Airbnb and Housing in Seattle

At Airbnb, we take our impact on cities very seriously and made a commitment to strengthen communities around the world. In November, we released our Community Compact, outlining a series of commitments we are making to be good partners with cities.

That commitment means we are working to ensure the Airbnb community pays its fair share in taxes in communities around the world. We are doing this in over 190 jurisdictions globally and  we are proud that we have been collecting and remitting taxes in the state of Washington for nearly a year.

That commitment also means working with cities like Seattle, where leaders have identified a shortage of long-term rental housing as a critical issue. We have been working with the city to develop clear, fair home sharing rules.  Once such rules are in place, we also commit to coordinating with the city to tackle unwelcome commercial operators to prevent impacts to long-term housing supply.

We’re glad this discussion is happening in Seattle. That’s why we want to share the facts with you about our community.

SeattleInfographic

  • Entire homes rented full-time through Airbnb make up only 0.05% of Seattle housing stock. Recently, we took a closer look at the hosts who have listed entire homes in Seattle. There are 3520 entire home listings that were active as of July 1 of this year.  The vast majority of these would never be available as long-term housing (see below). We wanted to understand how many of these listings were booked full-time last year. Only 165 currently active listings were booked full-time as short-term rentals in the past year. That’s less than 0.05% of the 324,490 housing units in Seattle.2
  • One space listed on Airbnb as an entire home does not mean one unit of long-term housing is being removed from the marketplace. Opponents have made the false claim that any entire home listing on Airbnb could be a unit of long term housing – this simply isn’t true.
    • Most hosts share their permanent home: The overwhelming majority of hosts (87%) in Seattle are sharing space in the home in which they live.
    • Most entire home listings are shared for less than a quarter of the year. In addition, 50% of entire home listings hosted short-term stays for fewer than 30 days in the past  year, indicating someone is actually living in that unit for the other 335 days.
    • An entire home listing is not always equivalent to a viable long term housing unit. Many entire home listings are private suites in homes, lacking kitchens and other amenities required for long-term tenants. Others are rented out in-between visits from family and friends. Others are boutique hotel rooms or time-shares. And some are homes occupied part of the year by owners who travel or live elsewhere for work and want to keep their homes in the city.  The majority of our listings would never be available as long-term housing or may not accommodate a long-term tenant.

The most recent short term rental regulation proposal in Seattle creates unnecessary, complicated barriers to entry. Similar approaches in other cities have resulted in low compliance. This proposal would require anyone – even someone who only wants to share their home for a weekend – to get multiple city licenses. This is a step backward for our hosts who are occasionally sharing their homes: 50% of entire home listings hosted short-term stays for less than 30 days in the past year.

This proposal also would ban all second homes that are occasionally used as short term rentals, because the city has concerns about enforcing a cap limiting the number of nights rented by secondary homeowners without full data disclosure from Airbnb.

We have had productive discussions with the City regarding how we can provide the data and tools it needs in order to enforce a cap on second homes while protecting the privacy of our community. Our solution enables the City to preserve housing supply, while allowing Seattle families and neighborhood businesses to earn supplemental income from empty bedrooms.

We look forward to continuing our discussion with City of Seattle in the coming weeks in hopes of helping them craft fair regulations that allow middle class families to continue sharing their homes.

Footnotes

1 “Full-time” listings were defined as listings that hosted at least 270 nights during the year period; if the entire home listing has not been available on Airbnb.com for a year, it is considered “full-time” if it hosted 75% of the days since the listing was activated.

2 Seattle housing count taken from American Community Survey (ACS) data, 5-Year Estimates, 2014