Not long ago, AirBnB and other short-term vacation rental supporters touted Austin, Texas as a good example of how to regulate short-term rentals. We wonder how they are feeling now that Austin is moving toward banning all STRs in the City?
As cities all of the world are looking at how to regulate the STR industry—it is important that they look at the success and failure of other cities that were early adopters of regulation. There are good lessons to learn.
The City of Austin had allowed some short-term rentals for people that were actually sharing their homes—meaning that they were also at the home when visitors stayed. However, the City’s affordable housing shortage was exacerbated by short-term rentals—much like what is happening in Los Angeles. Now, all STRs will be phased out in Austin.
In our own backyards, Santa Monica passed restrictions that were just impossible to enforce. Airbnb and other platforms virtually ignored the new rules. Hence, the city seems to be moving toward tightening regulations.
And in New York, Airbnb pledged to cooperate and provide data. However, they recently admitted to removing more than 1500 units from the platform prior to releasing the data. AirBnB admitted to removing 1,500 listings from its platform that were controlled by commercial operators to paint a rosier picture of its operations.
AirBnB is now also admitting that nearly 40% of its revenue from whole-home listings comes from hosts listing multiple residential properties for short- term rentals. And many of the listings that were scrubbed are now back online. This shows that we cannot trust platforms to self-regulate and control the abuse that will inevitably occur.
Solving the negative impacts of STRs is not easy. It is going to take a lot of work. We hope Los Angeles is learning for other cities and ensures that any new regulations protect rent-controlled housing and hold the platform accountable for transparency.