- The pandemic sparked a boom in Airbnbs as buyers see vacation rentals as a sound investment.
- Locals and officials in popular cities say Airbnbs drive up home prices and disturb neighbors.
- New Orleans, Chattanooga, and six other cities are trying to prevent Airbnbs from taking over.
People flocked to Airbnb and other short-term-rental platforms during the pandemic, trying to maximize their returns by renting homes to growing numbers of vacationers, travel nurses, and remote workers.
For many, it’s paying off. Airbnb reported that the average US host’s income grew to over $13,800 in 2021 — an increase of 85% since 2019.
But the number of owners and property managers cashing in have left some of their neighbors feeling frustrated.
Locals say the mounting presence of short-term rentals in their neighborhoods can lead to a range of issues, from mundane annoyances (they host noisy parties) to substantial challenges (they make it more difficult for regular people to buy homes).
On the Gulf Coast of Florida, the issue is coming to a head. Caitlyn Marriott — who lives in Venice, Florida, a city about 20 miles south of Sarasota — has had enough. She told Insider she’s moving out of the Sunshine State because of the headache short-term rentals have caused in her area.
“Once Airbnb became a thing, it became common that houses being sold down here would be purchased by investors, whether they were big companies or just mom-and-pop looking to buy a vacation home,” she said.
The rise of short-term rentals in southwest Florida predates the pandemic. In a 2019 Sarasota Magazine article, “Is Airbnb Ruining Our Neighborhoods?”author Cooper Levey-Baker noted that 100,000 guests stayed in Airbnbs in Sarasota County in 2018, up from 67,000 in 2017. That number is undoubtedly higher now.
According to Visit Sarasotatotal visitors increased from 2,796,580 in 2019 to 3,008,900 in 2021.
The lack of housing available to rent or buy is a problem all over the country. Realtor.com reported total active sales in February were down 26% year-over-year.
And in cities like Sarasota, as Marriott observed, investors rival everyday buyers to nab the few homes that are available.
According to Florida Realtorsactive listings in Sarasota fell 54.7% from December 2020 to 2021, from 1,253 to 568. Meanwhile, Sarasota has the highest Airbnb occupancy rate in the US, at 82% — 39% higher than Los Angeles, according to DPGOa pricing tool for Airbnb hosts.
Residents are fed up and starting to take action. On April 24, demonstrators in Sarasota participated in a March for Our Futuresprotesting housing inequality and a host of recent abortion, education, and immigration laws passed in Florida.
Here are eight cities where residents and local politicians are fighting back against short-term rentals.