Our favorite home away from home, AirBnB, has been under some fairly intense scrutiny as of late.
Many notable names, Senator Elizabeth Warren being a front runner, have expressed concern that Airbnb is negatively impacting the long term housing market in New York City.
Airbnb has readily expressed a willingness to comply with lawmakers.
Additionally, Chris Lehane of Airbnb stated that many of Airbnbs hosts are middle class citizens who rely on Airbnb as a way of addressing economic inequality.
This statement came just a week after Airbnb released data revealing that they have taken down a total of 2,233 listings in NYC that appeared to come from hosts listing multiple homes that "could impact long term housing availability."
The report states that Airbnb took down 1,585 listings in Manhattan, 464 in Brooklyn, and 126 in Queens.
Airbnb expressed their concern that these multiple listings could impact the long term housing market, and thus released the data as a way of showing their proactive action towards preventing their site from impacting the long term housing market.
However, a conflicting report states that rents have begun to skyrocket in areas where Airbnb is more popular.
The report states that Airbnb is responsible for the gentrification of primarily minority neighborhoods, as renters are seeking homes that they know would fare well on the Airbnb market.
The Federal Trade Commission has already begun the process of examining such short-term home rental sites like Airbnb and HomeAway, but their findings have yet to be released.
If Airbnb is really responsible for the rising prices in NYC's already outrageously expensive housing market, is it even worth the benefits it provides?
Airbnb is just a temporary solution to the larger problem in NYC: the housing market.
Rents are reaching all-time highs, so much so that Brooklyn is now known as the most unaffordable housing market in the United States.
Not only that, but there's nothing being done about the clear-cut consequences New Yorkers are already dealing with.
While the prices continue to rise, so do the apartment vacancies. Remember this report released in February that stated nearly 3% of Manhattan apartments remained vacant due to exorbitant rental prices? Oh, we most definitely do.
One would think that with so many apartments remaining vacant that landlords and homeowners would lower the cost of these apartments to make them more accessible to those that readily want/need them, right?
Unfortunately, that's not the case. This is New York City. Reasonable expectations are often the most readily ignored, and these houses remain vacant until those who are wealthy enough to take on these high rents come through. Simply put, those people are hard to come by, if they exist at all.
We also know that landlords are sketchy. Whether it's charging for square footage you can neither see nor use, illegally turning away poor tenants, or deregulating rents at the end of a lease, landlords aren't doing much to improve their image.
But these rent hikes not only affect homeowners, but also small businesses. With the continued expedited gentrification of the city, many small business owners have been harassed out of their leases by landlords up-charging these longtime tenants to an enormous degree.
This became such a notable problem that Mayor de Blasio recently signed a bill intended to protect local small businesses from getting shut out of this insane real estate market.
Simply put, Airbnb is an ill-placed bandaid on the surface of a deeper wound high rents have left on New Yorkers. With hosts buying up multiple vacant homes and doling them out on Airbnb, what will New Yorkers have left on the affordable long-term housing market?
Monitoring Airbnb hosts and prohibiting them from having multiple listings is only a minor first step taken to alleviate the problem of finding affordable housing in this city.
Minor though it may be, one can only hope that it's the first of many steps that'll be taken (hopefully) to assuage the cost of living in this city that we hold so near and dear to our hearts.
Until then, it might make sense to squad up, so to speak, and find a roommate. A good one. And good roommates are hard to come by. That’s not a joke. That’s why there’s Roomi.
Roomi is the free app that helps you afford living in a city you can't on your own. Download Roomi, and find a roommate that's actually good for you.
Check out 6 Best Ways to Get That Fresh Start in NYC.[via INC] [Feature Image Courtesy Instagram]