Airbnb is indeed a force to be reckoned with, but it is not the only factor influencing the availability of affordable housing in a hot rental market. As experienced Airbnb Superhosts accommodating both tourists and people relocating to our fair city, we’ve seen the impact the service has had on our community both positively and negatively.
In recent years, prices have been driven up in the Portland, Oregon area for many reasons including an influx of higher wage jobs, lower unemployment, a significant upswing in migration to the city, and gentrification transforming neighborhoods by removing the inexpensive housing and replacing it with more expensive new apartments and condos. Monster complexes (without parking) are springing up throughout the city charging exorbitant rates with 450 square feet studio apartments on the outskirts of town going for $1,000/month or more. But do note that these luxury apartments and condos are not sitting empty and most are not being purchased for the purpose of operating Airbnb exclusively.
From the point of view of a former landlord, the Airbnb experience is far superior. Individuals without the ability to rent their own space often have financial issues that preclude them from paying the rent on time on a consistent basis. Airbnb guests are, on the whole, responsible, considerate, and never late with rent since this is collected in advance and retained by Airbnb. These rental funds are released the day after a guest’s first night at a listing and automatically deposited into a host’s bank account. This predictability of revenue and ease of financial management is a huge temptation for many to work with short-term renters instead of traditional roommate or landlord situations.
The lack of availability of long-term housing is certainly not only the fault of Airbnb. The service simply gives the homeowner the opportunity to maintain their own personal freedom while remaining invested in their community as a property-owner and taxpayer. Any city experiencing large amounts of growth sees the inevitable pinch of affordable housing – think New York, San Francisco, and even Portland. The city’s approach to dealing with the issue is what is key. Partnership and establishing ground rules vs. antagonistic rejection of the burgeoning shared economy can make all the difference in favorable outcomes for the municipality.