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Airbnb Rentals Skew Market in East Village, Hell's Kitchen, Williamsburg

By Gwynne Hogan | June 29, 2016 4:22pm
 The most 
The most "impactful listings" were in the East Village, Hell's Kitchen and Williamsburg neighborhoods, a study found.
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WILLIAMSBURG — The Airbnb listings most detrimental to the city's rental market are mostly located in the East Village, Hell's Kitchen and Williamsburg, a study released this week found.

The report, commissioned by tenant advocates Housing Conservation Coordinators and MFY Legal Services and researched by BJH Advisors, focused on what it called "impact listings," or apartments that are effectively taken off the market due to short-term rentals.

The researchers identified 8,058 apartments across the city which fit three categories they'd designated as harmful to the rental market: the entire home or apartment is listed, the apartments are regularly rented out for less than 30 days and those deemed "commercial" meaning that they're rented out the apartment for at least three months.

If added back into the city's rental housing market, which had 75,458 vacant units in 2014 according to the city's Housing and Vacancy Survey, there would be 10 percent more vacant apartments and the city's vacancy rate would bump up to 4 percent, instead of hovering at 3.45, the report argued.

"This report proves what we see on the ground every day in Williamsburg and Greenpoint: residential units are being removed from the rental market for illegal short-term rentals," said Rolando Guzman at housing advocacy group St. Nicks Alliance. "We see long-term tenants facing harassment and risk of displacement from their rent regulated apartments by landlords with a never ending appetite for higher incomes."

Airbnb spokesman Peter Schottenfels contested the researcher's findings saying it was misleading for a number of reasons.

The data, which researchers took from Airdna which scrapes the site's data, isn't always accurate, he said. Some hosts don't regularly update their calendars and open dates don't necessarily mean they're available. 

Secondly, he said, the report was misleading because the it lumps the "impact listings" in with only rental apartment vacancies, though they could condos or single-family homes.

"We need to work together to find solutions that actually benefit middle class New Yorkers, including how to protect responsible home sharers, rather than protecting the interests of the hotel industry," he said.

In 2014 the state's Attorney General Eric Schneiderman found that 72 percent of the sites listings between January 2010 and June 2014 were illegal, meaning they were full apartment rented out for less than 30 days.

When Airbnb agreed to release data on rentals last year it did so only after purging 1,500 listings, the company later admitted.