Skift Take

You can expect Airbnb to run campaigns to push for local laws that would allow renters to put their apartments on Airbnb.

By the time a Gen Zer in the U.S. reaches age 30, they’ll have spent approximately $145,000 on rent on average. In comparison, millennials spent roughly $127,000 by the same age.

Airbnb wants to win new business and ease some of this financial strain by pushing for measures that would allow renters to become hosts on Airbnb — if they get the permission from their landlords.

The company said Friday it will advocate for renter-friendly short-term rental policies. Airbnb said cities including Raleigh, North Carolina; San Diego, California, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, have adopted renter-friendly laws. 

“Homeownership should not be a barrier to entry when it comes to sharing your home,” said Mike Signer, Airbnb’s North America policy director. “The vast majority of hosts in the U.S. share their space to help cover the rising cost of living, and we want to partner with cities to develop sensible short-term rental policies that grant renters the opportunity to do the same.”

This is an interesting counter-point to the early days of Airbnb when it encouraged renters to flout local regulations and lease provisions that barred them from putting apartments on Airbnb.

Airbnb is also donating $100,000 to aid renters in financial distress through the Flagstone Initiative, a  non-profit organization that offers financial assistance to help struggling renters and prevent eviction. Other initiatives include programs like Airbnb-friendly apartments, which help renters find an apartment where the building management permits hosting part-time on Airbnb. 

The company claims this is part of its story and legacy — founded over 15 years ago, Airbnb began with hosts opening their homes to guests to cover rent expenses. 

Short-Term Rental Arbitrage

In addition to renters using their apartments part-time as short-term rentals, homeowners and renters have long been putting properties on Airbnb through short-term rental arbitrage.

In the case of renters, it works by signing long-term leases on apartments and then renting them out on a short-term basis on platforms like Airbnb. The top markets with high premiums in 2023 included Charleston, South Carolina; Providence, Rhode Island; Jacksonville, Florida; and Nashville, Tennessee, among others. 
In the first half of 2021, strong demand for short-term rentals combined with limited supply made for good arbitrage activity. Short-term rental revenues made through arbitrage netted premiums (the percentage difference between the revenue and rent owed) as high as 179%, according to AirDNA.

Whether it’s with renters offering their apartments on Airbnb when they might be away for a weekend or on vacation, or people renting out unit with the idea of engaging with short-term rental arbitrage, Airbnb’s effort to ease local regulation could lead to an increase in supply. That might lead to a decrease in premium for renters engaged in arbitrage.

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Tags: airbnb, dwell, home ownership, home rentals, online travel, online travel newsletter, real estate, short-term rental arbitrage, vacation rentals

Photo credit: Airbnb is pushing for renters to be hosts. Source: Airbnb Airbnb

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