What impact does Airbnb have on the controversial temporary rental platform for tourists?

A woman makes a photo in New York

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Millions of people use Airbnb when they travel, but their popularity sometimes causes conflict with neighbors in those cities. How do short-term holiday rentals affect a neighborhood?

In the decade that it was created, the online rental platform Airbnb has added millions of rooms around the world.

But she has also been involved with disputes with the authorities from Tokyo to Berlin or San Francisco.

Some issues are repeated in these disputes: the number of annual nights with which a home can be rented; the rental of complete houses; the licenses; the tax conditions or how to apply the rules.

While Airbnb opens a number of neighborhoods to receive more tourism Often it is not popular with the residents of those same neighborhoods.

There are fears that the owners are choose more for short-term rentals that for the long term, which can generate greater benefits.

In the Lower East Side of Manhattan, for example, a study concluded that properties that were rented full-time through Airbnb were on average between two and three times more than the average annual rent of a normal rent.

Tourists in Barcelona

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The Gothic quarter of Barcelona is popular on Airbnb.

Recently, a law was passed in New York City that requires online rental services to provide data about hosts to combat commercial operators benefiting from these services.

The goal is " protect our park against affordable housing for the millions of New Yorkers who could not live without him, "says Carlina Rivera, a member of the New York City Council.

Limitations on short-term rental worldwide

  • Amsterdam : the rent of complete houses is limited to 60 days per year and this is halved
  • Barcelona: Short-term rental must be licensed and new licenses are not issued
  • Berlin : owners need a permit to rent 50% or more of their principal residence for a short period
  • Lond beef : short-term rental of entire houses is limited to 90 days per year
  • Palma: the mayor has announced the ban on short-term rentals
  • N New York : It is usually illegal to rent flats for 30 consecutive days or less unless the host is present
  • couple í s: Short-term rental is limited to 120 days per year
  • San Francisco: Hosts must register as a company and obtain certificates for short-term rentals. The rental of full properties is limited to 90 days per year
  • Sin ur : the minimum rental period of social housing is six consecutive months
  • Tok I or: the share at home it was only legalized in 2017 and is limited to 180 days per year

sources: Airbnb, city council of Amsterdam, government of the Balearic Islands, Reuters, New York Times

Although Airbnb represents a small percentage of all available housing in a city, it can be assumed a very important percentage in some neighborhoods , as happens in the old center of Barcelona.

A study from 2015 indicated that 9.6% of the houses in the historic center of the city were on Airbnb, and near the Gothic Quarter, within the old quarter, the percentage reached 16.8%.

To conduct the study, 42 neighbors were interviewed, 40 of whom presented the problem of displacement, including the expulsion of the neighbors , intimidation of real estate and the problems caused in their daily lives.

Barcelona has stopped issuing new licenses for tourist rental, without which a short-term rental is illegal. The council says that illegal housing creates & # 39; speculation and illegal economies and their activities leave nothing positive to the neighbors, causing them discomfort and complaints. "

The study on Barcelona and some others, including those on the cases of Boston, Los Angeles and the entire United States, also have the existence of a link between the concentration of Airbnb properties in a neighborhood and the increase in the rent .

The study in Los Angeles indicated that in 2014 nearly half of the properties on Airbnb were concentrated in seven neighborhoods, where rents were a third higher than the city average.

The largest study in the United States suggests that an increase of 10% of the properties available on Airbnb caused a rise in rents of 0.42% and a rise in house prices of 0.76%.

Cause and result

Of course, many factors influence housing markets. And the author of the Los Angeles report suggested that Airbnb's growth might be both the result and the cause from the broader issues of accessibility to housing.

But the report also suggests that Airbnb advantages of illegal rental that "provoke the rise in rents, reduce housing supply and exacerbate segregation".

Los Angeles

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Los Angeles neighborhoods with the most Airbnb rentals are also where prices have risen the fastest.

In addition to concerns about affordability, there is concern about how the rapid growth of short-term rentals can change the environment in an area.

The watchdog of the Edinburgh tradition fears that " the personality of the old quarter in particular, is changing "due to short-term rental, although it recognizes that they are promoting tourism and helping companies.

In another study, the authors interviewed a small group of neighbors on the Hawaiian island of Oahu about their perception of this problem. The study identified both positive and negative effects, but more of the latter.

The interviewees were especially concerned about the possible damage to the sense of community this is mentioned more than twice as often as the value of the properties or the affordability.

"This is changing the sense of belonging of the neighborhood, it changes its environment, with what is almost a revolving door of strangers," said a neighbor.

Excessive tourism

Others are also worried that holiday homes aggravate the problem of excessive tourism. Barcelona and Venice , For example, they receive each More than 30 million visitors per year , which resulted in great debates.

At other times there were complaints about the behavior of these visitors, including parties with high decibels or the creation of traffic jams.


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Tens of millions of people visit Venice every year.

But Airbnb and other platforms can also offer positive experiences both for visitors and for the hosts.

Many visitors try to save money with regard to what a hotel would cost, or have a more "authentic" holiday experience in less touristy neighborhoods.

In my research, I saw that up to 90% of Airbnb users claimed to be "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with your stay.

Hosts have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world while making some extra money.

And with regard to the community, Airbnb can accommodate more tourists and increase business customers in practically residential areas.

Airbnb in turn ensures that it helps diversify tourism promoting areas that need more visitors and reducing overcrowding in tourist centers. He says that the money that the hosts earn provides economic and social benefits for families, communities and governments.

"While the travel and tourism industry continues to grow faster than the rest of the economy, it is very important that residents and communities benefit from the numbers, in many cases a record of visitors to their cities," said an official. Airbnb representative.


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Airbnb was an official partner of the Edinburgh Fringe festival this year and claims to contribute millions to the local economy.

The company added that it works with governments around the world on clear rules "to ensure that hosts and visitors use the platform with confidence and certainty".

The rapid expansion of short-term rental companies, such as drones or cars without a driver, is a relatively unexpected phenomenon that some governments have reconsider existing regulations.

Airbnb is aiming for home 1,000 million visitors per year from 2028. The scope of the targets means that regulatory battles are likely to continue in the near future as more cities try to shape and control their impact.

We can see more stringent measures, such as those being taken in places such as Japan, Barcelona and Palma.

It may even be the case that jurisdictions use a more conciliatory approach Limit a number of types of properties and require more information about rental activities to be shared.

This may slow the growth of the company, but it can also help to formalize and legitimize the presence of Airbnb as a permanent phenomenon in neighborhoods around the world.

This piece of analysis was commissioned by the BBC by an expert outside the organizationn and eTHISada by Eleanor Lawrie.

Daniel Guttentag is assistant professor in hotel management and tourism at the College of Charleston, South Carolina (United States). He is also director of the Office of Tourism Analysis of the department.

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