Airbnb Study Says They're Not Making Rent Worse In L.A.

The cost of living in Los Angeles continues to grow, but the frequently scapegoated Airbnb says, "It's not our fault."

On Tuesday the popular roomsharing website released their own study—done in conjunction with members of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs—which concludes that Airbnb is not negatively impacting the housing market in L.A. This contradicts a study from March by the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), which says that Airbnb is taking thousands of units off the long-term rental market.

"The assumption that every advertisement of a complete unit for short­-term rental is equivalent to the loss of a long­-term rental unit is inaccurate," writes UCLA Assistant Professor of Urban Planning Paavo Monkkonen in the preface of Airbnb's study, "as many people rent out their entire primary residence while they are away."

According to Airbnb's findings, the majority of listings on their site are rented only on a short-term basis each year, with 80% rented for no more than 90 days out of the year. "Entire home listings do not represent housing units taken off the market, but rather the homes of regular citizens that are rented during the resident’s vacation, work assignment, or other temporary absence," says the study's summary. Furthermore, the study says, the vacancy rate in Los Angeles has not changed from 2005 to 2013, "underscoring that the Airbnb community has no material impact on housing availability in the City of Los Angeles."

LAANE questioned Airbnb's findings, finding it fishy that units were being rented out more days out of the year than the average worker gets off. "There’s no way you can live there full time and rent it out at the rates we're seeing,” LAANE research and policy analyst Roy Samaan told the L.A. Times. "We stand by our conclusions."

Monkkonen says in his study preface that the focus on fixing the rent crisis in Los Angeles shouldn't be on services like Airbnb, but instead on making sure more units are being built. "Every year, restrictive zoning and neighborhood groups block thousands of new units from being built," he writes, putting NIMBYs on blast. "These units would be disproportionately built in the high-demand high ­rent neighborhoods if local governments would allow them."

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