[Credit: Airbnb]

Airbnb pledges to enable renters to host in their homes

US: Airbnb wants to open up home sharing for renters as well as homeowners and is advocating for renter-friendly short-term rental policies in the United States, as well as making a $100,000 donation to an organisation that helps renters stay in their homes.

At a time when a record half of all US renters say they are cost-burdened, the company wants to ensure that communities nationwide adopt sensible short-term rental policies that allow renters to share their space to earn supplemental income.

More than five million hosts around the world currently share their home on Airbnb to help supplement their income. In the United States, more than per cent of hosts say that the income from hosting enables them to stay in their homes, while an estimated 10 per cent claim that the money has helped them to avoid foreclosure or eviction, according to Airbnb.

Airbnb says that it is moving to help renters share their space while continuing to allow homeowners to do so, despite the fact that a number of US cities are adopting laws that impede a large segment of the population from leveraging their space to earn supplemental income, and that renters earn significantly less than homeowners.

Mike Signer, North America policy director at Airbnb, said: “Homeownership should not be a barrier to entry when it comes to sharing your home. The vast majority of Hosts in the US share their space to help cover the rising cost of living, and we want to partner with cities to develop sensible short-term rental policies that grant renters the opportunity to do the same.”

It comes as part of a wider action by Airbnb to collaborate with cities across the United States to pass short-term rental policies that are conducive for renters to share their space. Updated policies have already been enacted in the likes of Raleigh, North Carolina, San Diego, California, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, while a statewide bi-partisan bill has been signed into law in Virginia that requires localities that issue STR permits to property owners to issue the same permit to tenants with permission of the property owner.

In addition, the home-sharing firm has announced that it is donating $100,000 to the Flagstone Initiative, a non-profit organisation that offers financial assistance to help struggling renters and prevent eviction. The donation will enable the Flagstone Initiative to offer financial stability programmes to help renters avoid evictions.

Shin Inoue, CEO of the Flagstone Initiative, said: “Millions of renters live paycheck to paycheck and need help making ends meet. Airbnb’s donation will help provide creative upstream solutions to improve their financial stability and keep them in their homes.”

Airbnb is continuing to press forward with plans to support hosts and guests and increase the number of people who can host [and earn supplemental income] on its platform.

Last month, Airbnb confirmed the creation of an Airbnb Housing Council, including independent housing organisations and experts, to work together to identify long-term solutions to help increase housing supply and support communities facing urgent housing affordability concerns.

In 2022, the company debuted its Airbnb-friendly apartments [AFA] listing service, which initially partnered with 250 buildings in cities such as Houston, Phoenix, Jacksonville and New York City to enable renters to lease out their apartments on a part-time basis through the platform. Partners on the programme include Greystar, Starwood Capital Group, GoldOller Real Estate Investments, Milhaus, Space Craft, Equity Residential and UDR Inc.

When Greystar and Airbnb marked a year since their collaboration on the programme began in February, it was revealed that participating residents had earned more than $3 million in income from hosting and properties earned more than $950,000 from their share of hosting revenue over a 12-month period, according to Greystar.

The Airbnb-friendly apartments programme has since expanded to more than 400 buildings in the United States, while over 1,000 renters have created a listing through the AFA service to date.

Renters have also been able to make use of Airbnb Setup, a programme that simplifies the hosting process for new hosts by matching them with Superhosts.

A lack of housing supply, skyrocketing property prices and anti-social behaviour / disruption have been recently cited as reasons for regulating and restricting short-term rental activity in markets facing affordable housing challenges.

In Hawaii, short-term rentals could be phased out entirely in counties across the state if two bills that are currently moving through state legislature are passed. The market’s chronic housing shortage has been exacerbated by by numerous crises, including last August’s deadly wildfires on the island of Maui and Hawaii’s Big Island which killed more than 100 people, destroyed 4,000 homes and displaced thousands of residents.

Last month in the UK, meanwhile, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced that the government would scrap tax relief for holiday lets to improve the availability of long-term rentals as part of his Spring Budget. Hunt abolished the furnished holiday lettings tax regime after admitting that he was “concerned” that the current regime was creating a “distortion”, meaning that there are not enough properties for long-term rental by local people in their communities, while reports suggest the move could bring in an additional £300 million a year for the Treasury.

Furthermore, in Greece, short-term rental properties acquired through the Golden Visa programme could be restricted in a bid to tackle the shortage of properties for long-term rental in Athens and elsewhere.

While Airbnb faces mounting and tightening restrictions across the world, the platform is making it known that it wants to support both renters and homeowners to host, while not contributing further to existing housing supply challenges.

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