The Problem with Commercialized Short Term Rentals

Though some hosts occupy their rentals and truly participate in the spirit of “home sharing,” a disproportionate number of rentals belong to commercial users who do not occupy their multiple property listings. Lack of enforcement allows these commercial ventures to wear down the economic and social fabric of residential neighborhoods in a variety of ways. Here are the realities that the optimistic propaganda of the “sharing economy” leaves out:

Venice_Keep-Neighborhoods-First.jpg1) Commercialized short-term rentals artificially inflate rental costs. Commercial short-term rental operators have figured out how to profit from evading city laws and converting long-term living spaces (including those under rent control) into short-term rentals. That means fewer homes on the market for long-term rentersand landlords that can expect a higher rent from tenants planning to operate a short-term rental. More on that here.


silverlake_Keep-Neighborhoods-First.jpg2) Commercialized short-term rentals make it impossible for most families to live in their current neighborhoods. As long-term residents get priced out of your neighborhood, who remains? Only those who already own a home (and don’t rent it out short term). Goodbye new families. Goodbye young couples struggling to pay the rent. Goodbye students, artists, and anyone who can’t afford to compete with vacationers’ budgets. Goodbye neighborhood diversity, goodbye affordable/workforce/rent-control housing.


Hollywood_Keep-Neighborhoods-First.jpg3) Illegal short-term rentals attract disruptive visitors. The influx of out-of-town visitors upsets the peaceful enjoyment of long-standing residential neighborhoods. Short-term renters have no stake in the community, and therefore no reason to care how the neighborhood around them suffers from their vacation activities. Zoning code laws keep hotels out of residential neighborhoods, and exist to accommodate the inevitable disruptions of tourism. Illegal short-term rentals ignore zoning restrictions and make virtually any residence into a hotel/party house. One creative traveler made his Airbnb rental the site of an orgy.

Are you wondering just how many illegal short-term rentals  (Airbnb, VRBO, Globe Properties, Flipkey, HomeAway, OneFineStay, etc.) are in your neighborhood? If you live in Venice Beach, CA, an area of 3.17 square miles, you share your residential neighborhood with approximately 1,000 to 1,500 listings, all of which are illegal in residential neighborhoods. Many of these are NOT shared homes; they are stockpiled apartments, houses, duplexes and condos that have been snatched away from the long term rental market.


Mar-Vista_Keep-Nieghborhoods-First.jpg4) Commercialized short-term rentals are frequently operated without paying taxes that benefit the surrounding communities. Illegal short-term rentals are unfair to the hotel industry and hotel workers: commercialized short-term rentals rarely follow fire and safety codes, provide worker benefits or pay transient occupancy taxes.


Downtown-Arts_Keep-neighborhoods-first.jpg5) Commercialized short-term rentals break city laws with impunity. Airbnb did not become a multi-billion dollar company by facilitating true home sharing. This false impression is part of a carefully calculated misinformation campaign. In reality, short-term rental platforms make enormous profits from turning a blind eye to illegal, commercialized short-term rentals. Airbnb puts the responsibility to figure out the complicated maze of zoning codes and other municipal requirements squarely on the backs of the inexperienced and uninformed residents using its services. Airbnb is now 10th in total lobbyist spending for the lodging/tourism industry, and they fund organizations dedicated to limiting regulation of these destructive practices.

Does all of this frustrate you? Sign the petition to stop short-term rental abuse.