Airbnb Is Making Things Worse For L.A. Renters, Report Says

Last year UCLA researchers concluded that Los Angeles was the least affordable city in the nation for renters.

L.A.'s housing crisis includes sky-high rents (about $1,400 for an average two-bedroom apartment), a relatively low median individual income ($27,749), low vacancy rates (3.3 percent) and home prices so steep it takes $96,513.65 in annual household income just to purchase a median-priced, $481,900 house in this market.

Now there's this: A forthcoming report by the pro-labor Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) says that Airbnb, the platform that allows folks to rent their residences to tourists, is making things worse.

The main problem, it seems (the full data is coming at you Wednesday), is that Airbnb is allegedly taking perfectly good units out of the regular rental market in order to let tourists use them.

That might be fine in other cities, but it's a burden in Los Angeles, where high demand has folks scrambling to find an affordable place to live, the nonprofit organization argues:

According to LAANE’s investigation, in only a few years AirBnB has managed to remove approximately 7,795 units from the Los Angeles housing market in some of the most desirable neighborhoods, including Venice, Santa Monica, Hollywood and Silver Lake. 

... Simultaneously, Los Angeles is home to the highest percentage of renters of any city in the country. While rents have continued to skyrocket, places to live in are in short supply. 

You might think that Airbnb isn't hurting anybody because it simply allows renters a much-needed way to make a few extra bucks by subletting a room available for a few nights.

Airbnb Is Making Things Worse For L.A. Renters, Report Says
File photo by Parker Knight/Flickr

But LAANE found that a vast majority of the local Airbnb listings it analyzed, 1,410 posted by 8,400 hosts, involved "professional management companies" that oversee two or more units at a time.

Those rental pros represent "89 percent of AirBnB’s L.A. revenue," LAANE states:

 ... Professional management companies and other investors renting out whole apartments or houses dominate AirBnB. 

The report also says that while Airbnb claims that it brings money-spending tourists and their tax dollars to town, 81 percent of potential tax revenue ascribed to the platform would come to Los Angeles "whether tourists selected to stay in hotels or AirBnB."

In other words, that money's coming to L.A. regardless, LAANE argues.

Airbnb promotes a "competition between resident and tourist dollars," the organization says.

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Stay tuned for more on that next week.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow L.A. Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.


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