While Portland politicians crow about “landing” Airbnb (while quietly working to change rental rules to accommodate the business), residents in some cities are finding themselves priced out of the market as residential apartments are converted into short-term rentals advertised on Airbnb’s website. Apartments in many cities can be rented out for $150 a night, which translates into a hefty profit each month.
These folks may lease an apartment only to rent it out repeatedly on a short-term basis, raking in enough cash each month to cover not only the lease, but the mortgage on the home they’re actually living in. People are starting to get annoyed:
On Wednesday, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed two separate lawsuits against short-term rental “scofflaws” who egregiously — and illegally — converted residential apartments into commercial lodgings they advertised on Airbnb and other sites.
“In the midst of a housing crisis of historic proportions, illegal short-term rental conversions of our scarce residential housing stock risks becoming a major contributing factor,” Herrera said in a statement, promising more lawsuits to come. “We intend to crack down hard on unlawful conduct that’s exacerbating — and in many cases profiting from — San Francisco’s alarming lack of affordable housing.”
And it’s happening all over the place: New York City, never one of the most affordable places to live, estimates a minimum of 20,000 apartments have been taken out of the market; others in the city suggest the number may be double that. Airbnb says it’s all about “the sharing economy” – whatever the hell that is.
Affordability and availability of housing stock is only one of the concerns raised by critics. According to the New York attorney general — who has dragged Airbnb into a messy lawsuit — Airbnb is violating various rental and zoning regulations.
Fortunately for them, Porkland’s politicians appear willing to bend over backwards and stuff their heads completely up their butts in order to accommodate Airbnb’s new customer service hub in the Pearl District. Change the regulations? Hey, no problem, bro – welcome to Porkland!
According to the neighbors of Airbnb users, the site is bringing overcrowding, loud parties, and even brothels into their buildings — leading some tenant groups to self-police and report residents illegally listing units on the site.
Stories of trashed apartments abound, although Airbnb claims to be willing to “work with people” affected by such incidents, which the company maintains are rare. But there are other little catches, as well: casual renters who, say, want some extra cash for their vacation, often offer their digs on Airbnb for the time-frame when they plan to be out of town. It doesn’t occur to them that in many places, that’s illegal.
Next thing they know, they’re evicted – and likely facing steep fines as well. Great; try scraping together first and last plus security deposit for a new place (assuming you can find one) while on the hook for a few grand in fines and court costs.