The median rental price for a unit in Bed-Stuy/Crown Heights is $2,370 a month. For people running a serious Airbnb hustle, the average monthly revenue from a listing in these neighborhoods is $2,530. And that’s if it’s only booked at an average rate for these renters, which is 66 percent of the time.
And therein lies one of the problems listed in a voluminous new report by rental advocacy groups Housing Conservation Coordinators and MFY Legal Services. Another, simpler, problem is that the money people make from renting out their apartments even occasionally is passed on to the landlord in the form of higher rent prices. If rent is $2,000 a month but you get $500 from renting it out a few days a month, you can probably afford if the landlord increases the rent to $2,200.
And Airbnb listings aren’t affecting each neighborhood the same. According to the report, Short Changing New York City: The impact of Airbnb on New York City’s housing market, “53 percent of Airbnb listings are located in one of the following five ‘macro-neighborhoods’: East Village/Lower East Side, Chelsea/Hell’s Kitchen, West Village/Greenwich Village/SoHo, Williamsburg/Greenpoint/Bushwick, Bedford Stuyvesent/Crown Heights.” Data for the report comes from the Airdna.
The report also noted that the rental vacancy rate in New York is between 3.4 percent and 3.6 percent. Anything lower than a 5 percent vacancy rate distorts a housing market, it says.
A March report from mapping company CartoDB, Understanding Airbnb’s impact through Census data, found that profitability was so high that in parts of Williamsburg it’s possible to pay a median rent with just five nights a month renting it out on Airbnb.
The Housing Conservation Coordinators report had a message beyond just that Airbnb is making these neighborhoods more expensive. It said that making neighborhoods more expensive pushes out the people that had been living in them, and changes the very chemistry of the place:
Neighborhoods with the greatest number of Airbnb listings have experienced significant changes in demographic characteristics that are linked to gentrification, including the proportion of white residents, the proportion of residents over 25 years old with a Bachelor’s degree, and median household income. … If this trend continues to occur, sustained rises in rental prices and neighborhood displacement are likely, as well.