Nearly a third of the revenue generated by San Francisco-based home-sharing giant Airbnb in 12 of the largest metropolitan U.S. cities comes from hosts who offer short-term rentals for 360 days a year, according to a first-of-its-kind report released Wednesday by the American Hotel & Lodging Association.
The report, “From Air Mattresses to Unregulated Business: An Analysis of the Other Side of Airbnb,” looked at short-term rentals offered between September 2014 and September 2015 in cities including San Francisco, where unhosted short-term rentals (in which the permanent resident is not present during the guests’ stay) are illegal.
In fact, the report – conducted by researchers at Penn State University’s School of Hospitality Management – found that out of 10,651 hosts in San Francisco during that period, there were 308 hosts who offered short-term rentals year-round, making it one of the two West Coast cities with the largest number of full-time operators, along with Los Angeles.
Full-time operators in The City generated more than $43 million in revenue for Airbnb, some 22 percent of the overall $194 million brought in by all short-term rentals in that time period, according to the report.
Kathleen Lugar, president and chief executive officer of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, likened the practice to illegal hotels and said full-time hosts who are more or less a commercial business should have to operate under the same rules as hotels.
“These are not individuals simply making some extra money… they’re corporate landlords engaged in clear commercial activity,” Lugar said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday morning.
But Airbnb disputed Wednesday’s report, contending that most of its users are middle class residents who share their homes to help supplement their income.
“This report uses misleading data to make false claims and attack middle class families who share their homes and use the money they earn to pay the bills,” Nick Papas, a spokesperson for Airbnb, wrote in an email to the San Francisco Examiner.
“The overwhelming majority of Airbnb hosts are middle class people who occasionally share only the home in which they live and while Airbnb hosts keep 97 percent of the price they charge for their listings, hotels take most of the money they earn out of the community,” Papas said.
Short-term rentals remain greatly disputed in San Francisco, where many contend the practice has exacerbated The City’s housing crisis. San Francisco first legalized short-term rentals last year, but a measure to restrict them even more failed at the ballot in November.
Still, the battle to further regulate short-term rentals is far from over. Earlier this month, the Planning Commission unanimously rejected a request from a Nob Hill property owner to convert her three-unit residential building to hotel use only, marking the first time since the short-term rental law took effect that a property owner applied to convert residential units into hotel units.
Wednesday’s report used data sourced from Airdna, a site that tracks Airbnb revenues and operations to provide pricing and revenue information to Airbnb operators.
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