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What Does Banning Short-Term Rentals Really Accomplish?

Concerns that short-term rentals fueled by platforms like Airbnb have caused long-term rents to rise in major cities has caused some governments to place limits, including bans, on them. But research of New York City found that short-term rentals are not the biggest contributor to high rents, especially when it comes to the most vulnerable segments of a city’s residents. Given that short-term rentals have benefits, bans are a poor solution.

Cities around the world have seen rising house prices and rents and an influx of tourists over the past decade. Over the same period, an increasing number of travelers have been using short-term rentals, enabled by digital platforms like Airbnb and VRBO. These coinciding trends have led residents to blame rent increases on Airbnb and politicians to pass laws restricting the availability of short-term rentals. Short-term rental laws vary, with the most stringent resulting in almost complete bans. That’s the case in New York City, where Local Law 18 now requires hosts to register with the city, be present in the residence while hosting, and host at most two travelers.

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