Airbnb Short-Term Rentals and Commercial Hosts Grow Rapidly in London

A report published in Housing Studies, “Home or hotel? A contemporary challenge in the use of housing stock,” examines the rapid growth of Airbnb short-term rentals in London since 2014. The number of listings grew from 13,327 to 79,761 (498%) between 2014 and 2019. The number of entire-home listings grew from 6,631 to 44,463 (571%). In 2019, 18% of hosts had multiple listings and these commercial hosts accounted for 47% of listings. Multi-listing hosts increased by 326% between 2015 and 2019.

Airbnb enables homeowners to rent out their space (e.g., an extra bedroom or an entire apartment) over a short-term period. The company brands itself as a positive force for the sharing economy. Critics argue that the platform facilitates displacement of long-term residents. Because the company restricts access to its data, the researchers used two sources of web-scraped Airbnb data. The sources were AirDNA, a for-profit organization, and InsideAirbnb, a non-profit activist group.

The analysis found a 571% increase in entire-home rental listings from 2014 to 2019. In 2019, entire homes accounted for 56% of all listings. Twelve percent of multi-listing hosts accounted for 44% of entire-home listings, leading the authors to question whether these listings are really part of a sharing economy or whether they represent the further commodification of housing.

Forty-one percent of entire-home listings were available more than 90 days in a year and 61% of those with multi-listing (i.e., commercial) hosts were available for more than 90 days, indicating these homes likely could have been long-term rentals. The authors estimate that between 10,000 to 18,000 rental homes are unavailable as long-term rentals because they are operated as short-term rentals.

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