New York and the Airbnb Community

Last month, we launched our Shared City initiative because we believe we should work with cities so everyone benefits from home-sharing.  We saw during SuperStorm Sandy just how much our New York community wanted to help the city it loves so much, when hundreds of our hosts opened up their own homes to people in need.  Countless other generous acts happen that don’t make any headlines, but we see them every single day.

We’re pleased that so many cities like Amsterdam, Hamburg and Paris have embraced home-sharing and Shared City is our effort to do even more to make cities around the world even stronger.

This initiative came about because we care deeply about cities and we strongly believe that Airbnb makes neighborhoods better places to live, work and visit. So when we hear cities express concern about how home-sharing might affect their neighborhoods, we take them very seriously.

For example, some cities have questioned whether short-term rentals might have an impact on affordable housing.

To help answer this question, we first asked Ken Rosen, a noted housing expert and professor at U.C. Berkeley to examine these issues for us in New York and San Francisco. He reported that short-term rentals aren’t driving up rents or having an impact on the rental housing market. Prices go up and down, and there are lots of reasons why cities are expensive, but our community is not one of them.  Rosen reported: “We believe that the short-term rental industry is having little effect on urban apartment markets.”

In fact, Airbnb makes cities more affordable. 87 percent of Airbnb hosts occasionally rent out only the property in which they actually live and we’ve heard from countless Airbnb hosts in New York who have been able to pay their bills and stay in their homes thanks to Airbnb. All told, 62 percent of Airbnb hosts in New York said Airbnb helped them stay in their homes and the typical Airbnb host in New York earns $7,530 per year — a modest, but significant amount that can make a huge difference for families.

The bottom line is clear: Airbnb makes New York more affordable for New Yorkers and our community generates real benefits for everyone in New York. The Airbnb community will generate $768 million in economic activity in New York in 2014 and support 6,600 jobs. Travelers will have the chance to stay in unique spaces and visit small businesses in all five boroughs, and the Airbnb community will pay more than $36 million in sales taxes.

We also received questions about the impact some Airbnb hosts were having on different neighborhoods. The New York Attorney General and other officials raised concerns about bad actors abusing our site in New York, so we decided to investigate this as well.

We know that our community of more than 500,000 hosts around the world creates amazing, personal, local experiences for millions of guests a year.  The vast majority of our hosts are just regular people, renting out their own home to travelers.  But some of our hosts have always managed multiple properties, either for others or on their own.

In many large and small cities and vacation destinations, the local economy relies on these kinds of property groups and governments embrace them.  They are providing safe, positive experiences to vacationers and they pay their fair share.

But when we examined our community in New York, we found that some property managers weren’t providing a quality, local experience to guests. These hosts weren’t making their neighborhood stronger and they weren’t delivering the kind of hospitality our guests expect and deserve. In some cases, they were making communities worse, not better.  We took a hard look at our community in New York to identify these hosts and we took action.

Earlier this year, we began notifying these hosts that they and their more than 2,000 listings would be permanently removed from the Airbnb community. While we are allowing these hosts to support their existing bookings, all are now prohibited from accepting new reservations and if you search for a place to stay in New York, you won’t find these listings.

In an attempt to distract from their vast data demand on regular New Yorkers, the New York Attorney General’s Office has circulated a list of Airbnb users with a large number of listings. Every host on this list that rents apartments has been notified that they and their listings will be permanently removed from Airbnb. That means they can’t accept new reservations. Their profile pages may still be available on our site, solely to support existing reservations. When their existing bookings end, there will be no trace of them on Airbnb.

Our efforts to review and strengthen our community in New York are ongoing. We are a young company, we are constantly learning. We are committed to making cities better and will, to the extent possible, investigate complaints when we receive them. And we will be taking even more steps to make communities stronger in the years ahead. We look forward to continuing to work with our community and city leaders around the world as the sharing economy moves ahead.


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