Resources Help Cities Respond to Short-Term Rentals

A new study and a company that trolls short-term listing data on Airbnb and other sites can help cities understand and respond to short-term rentals.


Some cities have embraced the short-term rental app Airbnb and the sharing economy it fosters by updating rules and collecting new tax revenues. Other local governments respond to short-term rentals by enforcing long-standing rules, or passing new laws that address myriad concerns from maintaining existing affordable housing to respecting residential zoning.

“How to effectively regulate home-sharing and short-term rentals has therefore suddenly become one of the hottest topics among local government leaders across the country,” said San Francisco-based Host Compliance in its whitepaper introduction, A Practical Guide to Effectively Regulating Short-Term Rentals on the Local Government Level.

The company can compile data to help cities respond to short-term rentals and determine which listings violate local ordinances.

Ulrik Binzer, Host Compliance’s chief executive officer, told the Wall Street Journal that he was upset that his hometown of Tiburon, Calif., banned short-term rentals outright. “What we’re trying to get through is a transition from Wild West to something that’s a sustainable business,” he said.

In terms of affordable housing concerns, a new study by FiveThirtyEight determined that Airbnb has a small impact on rental markets in most cities. but could contribute to country’s housing shortage. The company looked at Airbnb booking and revenue data provided by consulting firm Airdna. The firm reviews Airbnb listing every three days for pricing and availability.

While Airbnb disputes the study, FiveThirtyEight spoke with urban land and policy experts, who said they feel the number of currently available short-term rentals in large cities is still too small to have a real effect on rents. But a rise in commercial short-term rentals (in the study, commercial is defined as an entire home or apartment, not just a room), could change that. If there is significant growth in the number landlords that opt to manage short-term rentals rather than conventional rental schemes, that could have an affect on rents.

Andrea Fox is Editor of and Senior Editor at Lexipol. She is based in Massachusetts.