Housing and the Airbnb Community in Los Angeles

Home sharing allows people to turn what is typically one of their greatest expenses into a tool to help make ends meet. Almost half of Airbnb hosts in Los Angeles work in the arts, entertainment and recreation industries. While most hosts use Airbnb to pay the bills, their guests generate sustainable, local economic activity that supports small businesses in many neighborhoods that haven’t benefited from tourism in the past.

But many home sharing opponents continue to make inaccurate statements about our community and our impact in Los Angeles. Opponents have asserted that Airbnb is removing ‘thousands of housing units’ from the rental market, a statement that is both baseless and mathematically impossible.

We wanted to learn more about our community in Los Angeles. Recently, our team of data scientists worked with members of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. They analyzed Airbnb data, publicly available census and community survey data, as well as third-party data to comprehensively understand the impact of the Airbnb community on housing in Los Angeles.

Here are some highlights from this work:

  • Most entire home listings are rented only occasionally. 92% of Airbnb entire home listings are rented on a short-term basis for less than six months months of the year. In fact, 80 percent of entire home listings are rented less than 90 nights per year. Entire home listings do not represent housing units taken off the market, but rather the homes of regular citizens that are rented during the resident’s vacation, work assignment, or other temporary absence.
  • According to our analysis, a housing unit in the City of Los Angeles would need to be rented more than 177 nights annually on a short-term basis in order to make it financially beneficial to convert from a long-term rental to a short-term rental. Although the average break even point in the City of Los Angeles is 177 days, in the neighborhoods where Airbnb is most popular, the break even point is typically higher – for example, in Venice, Hollywood, and Echo Park, a housing unit would need to be rented more than 220 nights annually to make it financially beneficial to convert from a long-term rental to a short-term rental.
  • Only 0.05 percent of all housing units in the City of Los Angeles are rented more than 177 days on a short-term basis via Airbnb
  • Similarly, less than 1 percent of vacant housing units in the City of Los Angeles are rented more than 177 days on a short-term basis via Airbnb.
  • From 2005 to 2013 the vacancy rate in Los Angeles has remained essentially unchanged, further underscoring that the Airbnb community has no material impact on housing availability in the City of Los Angeles. If landlords were converting long-term housing into short-term rentals, this number would have increased.
  • Asserting that the decades-long challenge of affordable housing is the result of a couple thousand middle class families sharing the home in which they live does a disservice to the broader problem. We look forward to working with everyone on smart, fair rules for home sharing.

Download the entire report and preface from UCLA Professor Paavo Monkkonen here.