BALCONY - Business and Labor Coalition of New York
June 27th, 2016

By Sally Goldenberg

A new report examining the impact of Airbnb on New York City’s rental market concludes the company is responsible for removing at least 8,000 apartments from the city’s housing stock and driving up lease prices.
The analysis, titled “Short Changing New York City; The impact of Airbnb on New York City’s housing market,” was prepared by BJH Advisors LLC for two organizations that are part of a coalition critical of the short-tern rental company – Housing Conservation Coordinators and MFY Legal Services.

The report found that in 2015, 8,058 Airbnb listings – 16 percent of the company’s total in the five boroughs – were what the authors classified as “impact listings,” which refer to those likely to have the biggest effect on the city’s residential market.

The designation refers to listings that meet all of the following criteria: rental of an entire apartment or home; “regular short-term,” which means booked for fewer than 30 days, booked for more than one reservation per month and containing at least one non-booked day a month; and “commercial,” which is defined as those listed for at least three months a year by hosts with more than one unit on the site or those listed for at least six months a year by hosts with only one unit on Airbnb.

In New York, it is illegal to rent an apartment in a three-unit building or larger for fewer than 30 days without the host present.

The 49-age report found that more than half of the so-called impact listings were managed by hosts who control multiple Airbnb units.

It also concluded that Airbnb activity is concentrated in several neighborhoods in Manhattan and Brooklyn – the East Village, West Village, Williamsburg and Bedford Stuyvesant, for instance.

The report states that in addition to increasing rental prices, Airbnb rentals are often in violation of health, safety, building and zoning regulations.

The analysis was presented at a press conference on the steps of City Hall Monday morning.

“Airbnb and companies like it do way more harm than good,” said Peter Ward, president of the Hotel Trades Council, the politically powerful hotel workers union that has been critical of Airbnb. “Airbnb comes to communities like New York and it operates illegally most of the time. It breaks our laws. It avoids taxation. … It has a terrible effect on affordable housing.”

Public Advocate Letitia James said the company “is one of the biggest factors contributing to our affordable housing crisis.”

Airbnb dismissed the findings as inaccurate and politically motivated.

“If the hotel lobby that funded this misleading study was serious about affordable housing, they would have urged politicians in Albany to act on real solutions like restarting the 421-a tax credit program,” company spokesman Peter Schottenfels said. “Instead, they made targeting middle-class people their top priority.”

Schottenfels was referring to the development tax incentive program for residential properties that expired in January when the building trades coalition and the Real Estate Board of New York could not reach an agreement on construction worker wages for projects receiving the tax break.

“We need to work together and find solutions that actually benefit middle-class New Yorkers, including how to protect responsible home sharers, rather than protecting the interests of a well-connected hotel industry,” he said.

A spokesman for the anti-Airbnb coalition, ShareBetter, said the analysis was paid for by Housing Conservation Coordinators and MFY Legal Services, not the Hotel Trades Council.

Airbnb also said 95 percent of the company’s entire home hosts only have one listing.

The Hotel Trades Council teamed up with the Real Estate Board of New York to push the passage of a bill in Albany that would increase fines on illegal Airbnb listings.

Ward, in his comments, said he hopes Gov. Andrew Cuomo will sign the bill.

A spokesman for Cuomo emailed in response, “This is one of 554 bills that passed both houses of the Legislature at the end of this session. They are under review by Counsel’s office.”

Read the study here: