City Comptroller’s Response to Airbnb Guest Commentary

Image credit: NYC Office of the Comptroller.

[The following guest commentary is a response to Airbnb’s commentary published here.]

New Yorkers are facing a growing affordability crisis, and over the years my office has examined many factors that have proven to contribute to the burden of rising prices – including, most recently, a report on the impact of Airbnb on New York City rental prices.

Our report offered a sober, independent analysis of how Airbnb’s growing presence in many of our neighborhoods has served to push rents up by increasing demand for housing. Like other analyses that have studied “the Airbnb effect” on housing markets around the world, ours confirmed that more Airbnb listings did contribute to rising rents in New York City.

In response, Airbnb essentially claimed it’s a coincidence that their listings and rental costs are on the rise at the same time – but our carefully designed study shows otherwise, and finds that Airbnb listings contributed to 9.2 percent of the overall increase in rents between 2009 and 2016.

Not 100 percent. Not even 50 percent. 9.2 percent.

Next, Airbnb claimed that we failed to account for other factors. In fact, we examined available data on Airbnb listings in New York City and used the kind of straightforward regression model employed by academics and economists around the world to account for other factors that contribute to rising rents – such as population growth, household incomes, and employment.

Finally, the company insists that we mistakenly equated Airbnb listings with removal of those apartments from the rental market. In fact, we measured the average effect of all types and durations of Airbnb bookings, whether one night or many months – the duration was irrelevant.  What mattered in our analysis was the concentration of Airbnb listings in a neighborhood.  A higher concentration of Airbnb listings would tend to push rents higher for any number of reasons, including constrained supply.

If Airbnb was genuine in its concern for New York City, it would do what every editorial board in the city has already urged it to do: Provide the City with the raw data necessary to weed out illegal postings. We support New Yorkers who use the website within the confines of the law, but right now it’s impossible for anyone – except Airbnb – to distinguish between legal hosts and the few bad actors who are converting once-affordable buildings into illegal hotels.

In the meantime, we in the Comptroller’s Office will continue to do our work to make sure New York City is a place where everyone can afford to put down roots and raise their families. With a growing affordability crisis that’s touching every corner of our city, we must consider every measure when it comes to our housing market. That’s why we wrote this report in the first place.

This is not a new priority for me. I have been committed to increasing affordability in New York since my days in the State Assembly, and since becoming Comptroller, our Budget Bureau and Policy team have released one report after the next on the status of our affordability crisis and possible solutions to our housing shortage.

So here’s my message to Airbnb: I stand by our work 100 percent, and you can be assured our office will continue to examine any and all factors that make it harder for New Yorkers to live and thrive here – no matter how many high-priced lobbyists you send our way.


To read CityLand‘s coverage on the Comptroller’s report, click here.


By: Scott Stringer, New York City Comptroller.


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