Airbnb and affordable housing advocates are fighting a battle in cities around the world. Today, Airbnb made a big concession that could herald a truce between the two sides.
The company announced it will limit the number of days hosts in London can rent out homes they don’t live in and help Amsterdam officials enforce an existing, similar law. To operate what Airbnb calls “entire home listings” for more than 90 days in London, hosts will need to acquire a special permit. In 2014, Amsterdam and Airbnb agreed to a rule that would limit entire home listings to 60 days, and today Airbnb is implementing new automated tools to help both cities enforce these rules.
Airbnb is facing pressure from cities around the world to crack down on hosts who operate listings like hotels. Policymakers and affordable housing advocates say these commercial short-term rental operators take much-needed housing inventory off the market. Airbnb, on the other hand, says these “bad actors” represent a small minority of hosts.
In Seattle, the City Council is considering regulations that would effectively ban entire-home listings. Last month, Airbnb sued the city of New York over a law that enforces the city’s ban on entire-home short-term rentals. New Yorkers can still rent out spare bedrooms in primary residences. The motion follows similar lawsuits in Airbnb’s hometown, San Francisco and Santa Monica, Calif.
Airbnb’s agreements with Amsterdam and London are part of the company’s “Community Compact,” a public pledge to work with cities and housing advocates to find compromises. The company seems to be softening its stance on entire home listings, in the face of outright bans like New York’s.
“We want to be good partners for everyone in the city and ensure home sharing grows responsibly and sustainably,” James McClure, Airbnb’s GM for Northern Europe, said in a statement. “The new measures are an example to the world and demonstrate the positive results that can be achieved when policymakers and Airbnb work together on our shared goals of making cities better places to live, work and visit.”