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Study Shows Airbnb Rakes in Millions From Illegal Rentals

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The San Francisco Examiner reports today on a study from the American Hotel & Lodging Association that claims SF-based Airbnb is making "nearly a third" of its revenue ($194 million) from short-term rentals offered up 360 days per year. Of course, any report generated by an organization mainly composed of competitors would have to be read with a critical eye. However, this one (reportedly conducted by Penn State University's School of Hospitality Management researchers) looked at hosts in 12 American cities to make the conclusions—including San Francisco, where full-time, short-term rentals are illegal.

The study's stance is clear from the title: "From Air Mattresses to Unregulated Business: An Analysis of the Other Side of Airbnb." The Examiner article says that it looked at rentals between September 2014 and September 15, to determine how much revenue these sorts of "permanent" short-term rentals generated. They found that "out of 10,651 hosts in San Francisco during that period, there were 308 hosts who offered short-term rentals year-round, making it one of the two West Coast cities with the largest number of full-time operators, along with Los Angeles."

How much money are we talking about from SF? According to the report published in the Examiner, the illegal rentals bring in "more than $43 million" for Airbnb.

Unsurprisingly, the American Hotel & Lodging Association is calling for tighter regulation and Airbnb is crying foul. Airbnb spokesperson Nick Papas emailed the Examiner, saying: "This report uses misleading data to make false claims." In what has become a familiar refrain, he also said: "The overwhelming majority of Airbnb hosts are middle class people who occasionally share only the home in which they live."

As we have reported earlier, a law enacted a year ago requires: 1) vacation rental hosts to register with the city, 2) hosts to be full-time residents, and 3) whole-house rentals be limited to just 90 days per year. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, only 875 hosts out of an estimated 6,000 in the city have completed registration. The report says 1,300 owners have applied for the permit, 170 were rejected, and there are 251 pending applications. In other words, most hosts haven't registered.

· Millions of dollars in Airbnb revenue comes from full-time short-term rentals, study shows [San Francisco Examiner]

· From Air Mattresses to Unregulated Business: An Analysis of the Other
Side of Airbnb [American Hotel & Lodging Association]

· SF to Vacation Rental Companies: "Help Us Catch Violators" [Curbed SF]

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