Nearly a third of the revenue generated by the short-term rental company Airbnb in 12 major markets comes from homes and apartments that are rented out on a full-time basis.
That was one of the conclusions of a study commissioned by the American Hotel and Lodging Assn., a trade group for the nation's hotels. The group said the findings point out a "very disturbing trend" that suggest the rentals are operating like "unregulated hotels."
Airbnb called the study deeply flawed.
As the cleaner laid out his tools, we made small talk, and I asked him where he lived. “Well, right now I’m staying in a shelter in Oakland,” he said. I paused, unsure if I’d heard him right. A shelter? Was my house cleaner — the one I’d hired through a company that has raised $40 million in venture-capital funding from well-respected firms like Google Ventures, the one who was about to perform arduous manual labor in my house using potentially hazardous cleaning chemicals — homeless?
He was, as it turned out. And as I told this story to friends in the Bay Area, I heard something even more surprising: Several of their Homejoy cleaners had been homeless, too. Read full article.
Scores of people packed a Tuesday hearing on how Los Angeles should regulate the short-term rental industry, launching a pitched debate over rules being proposed by city lawmakers. Members of the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management committee stressed that it was merely the beginning of the process of deciding how to regulate such rentals. Read full article
Early in the evening of July 4, Micaela Giles’s mobile phone started sounding alerts, and a series of messages straight out of a horror movie began scrolling down her screen.
Her 19-year-old son told her that his Airbnb host in Madrid had locked him in the fourth-floor apartment where he was supposed to be staying and removed the key. The host was still there, he said, rattling knives around in the kitchen drawer and pressing him to submit to a sexual act. He begged his mother for help.
When she called Airbnb, its employees would not give her the address and would not call the police. Instead, they gave her a number for the Madrid police and told her to ask the police to call the company for the address. But the number led to a recording in Spanish that kept disconnecting her, she said, and when she repeatedly called back her Airbnb contact the calls went straight to voice mail. Read full article
The study, published by New York Communities for Change and Real Affordability for All, found that more than 20 percent of the apartments in some of the city’s least affordable neighborhoods are offered for short- and long-term stays through the site.
The East Village topped the list, with a whopping 28 percent of its units available on Airbnb, according to the study. Also in the top 10 were the West Village, Lower East Side and Greenwich Village, with roughly 23, 20 and 18 percent of apartments, respectively.
By analyzing census data as well as listings on the site itself, the survey also found that nearly 60 percent of the offers were categorized as entire homes or apartments, which would make them illegal.
It also claimed that the site has taken over about 10 percent of the city’s available housing stock. Read full article.
Los Angeles has, by some measures, become the least affordable rental market in the country. And that’s pushed a growing number of renters to activism.
Renters are picketing outside buildings where landlords are trying to clear rentals to make way for condos. Others are protesting the construction of new luxury apartments, drowning out speeches by the likes of Mayor Garcetti. Read full article.
Many tech firms now recognize the organizing power of their user networks, and are weaponizing their apps to achieve political ends. Lyft embedded tools on its site to mobilize users in support of less restrictive regulations. Airbnb provided funding for the “Fair to Share” campaign in the Bay Area, which lobbies to allow short-term housing rentals, and is currently hiring “community organizers” to amplify the voices of home-sharing supporters. Read full article
The city council budget committee decided not to take any further steps toward setting up tax agreements with Airbnb and companies like it, and want the city to have a set of rules in place for the rentals before any taxes start rolling in. Why not? That’s what so many of LA’s neighbors have done. About two months ago, Santa Monica—predictably a very popular spot for short-term rental—passed super-strict rules that allowed only for genuine home-sharing, where the occupants rent out part of their house, like a room, a couch. (By that time, Airbnb had already dropped some of its biggest professional landlords from the site.) Malibu enforces existing laws they have for short-term rentals and is serious (like subpoena serious) about making people pay up. Read full article.
The victim, who rents the house though the site, kept valuables in a locked closet and office. Closed circuit TV images from the residence time-stamped April 30 clearly show Dominquez entering the locked upstairs apartment and a commercial establishment directly below it.
The theft wasn’t discovered until later and was reported to police on June 8.
The incident comes as services like Airbnb are waging a charm offensive intended to soften their image ahead of an upcoming ballot initiative in San Francisco that would curtail the number of nights each year that a person could rent a space through such websites. Read full article.