AirbnbWATCH today announced the launch of a six-figure, multi-platform advertising campaign that exposes the negative impact of Airbnb’s commercial operators running illegal hotels at multiple properties in Washington, D.C. The $350,000 ad campaign will include major radio, print, digital, and bus shelter advertisements.
AirbnbWATCH is launching this campaign as the Council of the District of Columbia sets to consider the
Short-term Rental Regulation and Affordable Housing Protection Act of 2017
during its fall legislative session. This bill would require every Airbnb host to obtain a Basic Business License; require short-term rental platforms to verify and post online listings; and address limitations on the number of nights per calendar year a property can be utilized as a short-term rental when the owner is not present. This would help address concerns about the short-term rentals of low-income, subsidized, rent-assisted or otherwise designated affordable housing properties.
This bill protects true home-sharing, while putting a stop to the commercialization of short-term rental activity and the operation of illegal hotels in the District’s residential neighborhoods. While the current draft bill goes a long way in regulating the abuses that take place on short-term rental platforms, such as Airbnb, it’s critical that the Council address some key provisions.
To adequately address resident concerns, the final bill should establish the lowest possible ‘cap’ on the number of days that a home is available as a short-term rental, so that they are not able to operate as illegal hotels, and a limitation on the ability of a host to rent out an additional property outside of their primary residence, which would otherwise lead to continued rampant commercial abuse of short-term rental platforms.
“Illegal short-term rentals in the District gobble up precious housing stock, exacerbating already astronomical rents and threaten the safety and community fabric of our neighborhoods,” said Lauren Windsor, executive director of American Family Voices, which is sponsoring the campaign. “We are calling on any Washington resident whose neighborhood is being infiltrated by commercial operators running illegal hotels to reach out to their council members now and urge them to pass legislation
to stop the proliferation of illegal hotels in the District.”
AirbnbWATCH is a project of American Family Voices and represents a broad and inclusive coalition of advocacy organizations focused on affordable housing, disability rights, economic justice, worker’s rights, and tenant’s rights.
"The DC Federation of Civic Associations is not opposed to Airbnb, but to the abuse of our housing and lodging laws. Those doing business in the District must pay their fair share of taxes in order to fund vital functions of our local government, such as our school system. Further, proper regulations ensure access to safe, secure lodging for those visiting our city,” said DC Federation of Civic Associations President Graylin W. Presbury.
Short-term rentals are infiltrating neighborhoods and exploiting loopholes in cities across the country, including in Washington, D.C. Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms help commercial operators rent out multiple properties, year-round, just the same as hotels and motels, without abiding by common-sense safety, security and residential zoning requirements that all other lodging businesses must observe.
True home sharing, where the owner is present during the guest’s stay, accounts for only 23% of Airbnb’s business in Washington D.C., according to a recent
. 77% of Airbnb’s revenue in the District – $81 million out of a total of $106 million – comes from whole-unit rentals where the owner is not present. Furthermore, 29% of Airbnb’s total revenue in D.C. is generated by multi-unit operators who rent out two or more entire home units. Among those multi-unit hosts, 24 percent of revenue in DC is derived from hosts who operate 20-plus entire units. Multi-unit, entire home hosts are the fastest growing segment of Airbnb’s business in the District - the revenue derived from these multi-unit, entire-home hosts rose 134% from 2015 to 2016.
Cities from coast to coast are fighting back. Working together, communities are holding short-term rental sites like Airbnb accountable for the actions of illegal hotel operators that thrive on their platforms while threatening the safety of neighborhoods and the traveling public with unsafe properties.