Illegal Airbnbs Could Take 1,500 Rentals Off Market

Comments

1

Airbnb isn't taking the rental units off the market--it's the new laws passed by the City Council that are making people like me take my 3-bedroom house off the rental market.

I may or may not use the rooms in an Airbnb-like way, I have not decided. But I will absolutely not be a rental landlord in Portland under the new requirements. And with 1 exception, every small landlord I know is getting out of the rental business in Portland.

If I don't have control of whom I rent to and what I charge, then I have no way to protect my asset--and I can't take a risk like that. My rental house is my only real financial asset. None of the small landlords I know can take a chance with the risk required by the new laws.

My house is for sale as soon as the current tenants' rental agreement expires, unless I do something else with it--but I won't be renting it out. That's 3 rented rooms off the market.

2

This is so, so dumb. The data from these "watchdog" groups is indeed unreliable. Go run a search for any given date in "Portland, OR" and then filter by "whole place," i.e., you get the whole place to yourself, not a shared room or semi-private space, and you end up with "300+" results. Yet somehow these "watchdogs" are claiming there are upwards of 2,000 units that fit this criteria?

Also, the City can easily get the info on who the owner receiving payment is - go try to set up your own AirBnB listing - to get payment, you will have to provide a taxpayer identification number, i.e., a Social Security number, for tax collecting and reporting purposes to get even a single dime of revenue from their system. This is income that will be reported to the State of Oregon. Can the city not get this info from the state?

This is a bunch of hand waving by Portland's impotent politicians who are trying to placate anger against AirBnB rather than doing something that would actually lower housing prices, i.e., upzone for more density and cut the red tape to allow for more and faster development of new housing units.

3

Sigh. Quick! It’s the media and PTU playing Airbnb boogeyman again. Gah this article is so poorly researched and written.

According to US Census there’s 375,000 housing units in Portland. That means 1,500 Airbnb units are less than 1/2 a percent of all housing units in the city. Did you ever read a chapter on stats in highschool? No way, no how, no debate that a 1/2 of a percentage is any way shape or form affecting Portland’s rental market or housing costs. And, it also incorrectly assumes all those 150,000 would be long term rentals if they aren’t Airbnbs with no data, facts, or even surveys behind it to verify. Many people would hold them as units for visiting relatives, or as second homes, or just home offices or they’d just remain vacant. So say, even 1000 units rather than 1500 due to that info above and we are now talking something so minuscule in housing numbers, thus whole article is a complete joke. It also assumes that each Airbnb would be a long term AFFORDABLE rental rather than say an illegal not to code can’t rent out basement with a kitchenette, a luxury condo in the Pearl going for $2500 a month on the market, an owner occupied unit, or an illegal treehouse or whatever that can’t be rented out long term.

Let’s go over it again: Airbnb & short term rentals aren’t the issue with Portkand’s Housing crises. Crappy zoning, excessive building and permitting costs, regressive cities policies like the relo ordinance, and a city gov neglecting their responsibility of affordable housing planning & investment for over a decade are the culprits.

4

It's called the free market system. Lots of poorer countries don't have that system. Perhaps some of us should move there.

5

Ms Healy 2 makes some excellent additional points - there is no indication whatsoever that the majority of these units would even become full-time rental units if they weren't able to be listed on AirBnB. Part of the appeal of AirBnB from an owner perspective is that you are free to block off chunks of time from available bookings so that your friends, relatives, etc., can stay in your space. Not to mention AirBnB has a dispute team, insurance, and other coverage available that significantly lessens your risk relative to Portland's existing (and getting worse) landlord/tenant laws.

And even if they were converted to long-term rental units, they would all be market rate because, guess what, they are all private units. This city has been so incredibly stupid when it comes to our zoning laws and housing policies, and this is just a distraction from that fact.

As for PTU, if they had their way, they would confiscate all the housing on the Portland market and distribute the best of it to themselves and their friends.

6

airbnb host-resident "private room" rentals (where the host lives in the same unit as the guest during the guest's stay to supervise the property and the guest) do not reduce housing stock (except perhaps for long-term roommate rentals) and should be encouraged by The City. This type of airbnb rental does all the good things that airbnb talks about -- like keeping people in their homes and offering a true value to tourists.

In contrast, airbnb host-absent 'entire place" rentals (currently theoretically limited to 90-nights a year) are the problem.

First, there is no way to for The City to effectively enforce the 90-night a year limit. airbnb could do this easily by limiting an "entire place" listing to rental up to 90-nights in a calendar year. airbnb simply refuses to do so for Portland -- although has offered to do so for some other cities.
Second city-wide average statistics are misleading because airbnb host-absent "entire place" rentals affect some neighborhoods greatly and others not at all. You need to assess the housing impact based on neighborhood or zip code.

Third, The City needs a separate "vacation rental" ordinance to cover short-term "entire place" rentals. Vacation rentals have existed in resort areas for decades and they have been subject to multiple regulations. What's new is "urban vacation rentals". 8 years ago "urban vacation rentals" did not exist. Now cities worldwide are trying to figure out how to limit or manage them.

This is why I say airbnb "talks the talk" about working with cities but does not "walk the walk". airbnb complains that data from screen scraping services is inaccurate, but airbnb refuses to release their actual data for cities to audit. airbnb could limit the number of nights an host-absent "entire place" listing can be rented each year but refuses to do so. airbnb could assess impact on housing stock by zip code, but to do so is not in their interest.

What's a city to do?

7

Steven Unger, it's almost like the city doesn't actually want to enforce this stuff. They are getting sweet, sweet tax revenue to play around with (the hotel tax, on top of the income tax for hosts, on top of the additional tourist dollars spent that translate into more income tax). They make a lot of noise about AirBnB being a "culprit" for housing prices, simply because they are too chickenshit to make the actual decisions that would result in lower housing prices, all for fear of upsetting their NIMBY voter and donor base.