The Bedroom Boom: Airbnb and London

by | Sep 2, 2016 | Housing Supply & Rents, Reports

‘Sharing is caring’ but is this the case with the rise of the sharing economy? Airbnb is a key facet of the sharing economy and is growing significantly worldwide. There are now more than 42,000 listings in London alone.

This research builds upon the previous Residential Landlords Association (RLA) report ‘The Rental Revolution: What the Sharing Economy is doing to the PRS?’ and sets out to explore the explosive growth in Airbnb listings. In the first report, Simcock and Smith (2016) identified that 64% of entire home/apartment listings were available for more than 90 nights per year with an estimated annual revenue of £144,227,328.

It was argued that this is removing a significant amount of housing supply, restricting the amount of properties available to families and workers, and potentially pushing up rents.

This research investigates the growth in the usage of Airbnb between February 2016 and June 2016. From the analysis of the data it was found that there had been a substantial growth of 27% for the number of listings in London. Moreover, the number of entire home/apartment listings had increased by 24% to 21,861.

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Growth in London Listings

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Growth in Home/Apartment Listings

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Number of Home/Apartment listings available for more than 90 nights

61% of these entire home/apartment listings were found to be available for more than 90 nights per year, and an increase from 11,296 listings in February to 13,320 in June. This is an 18% increase in the number of listings available for more than 90 nights over a period of 4 months. Furthermore, these highly available home/apartment listings were let on average for 98 nights per year. This finding shows that the number of listings possibly not adhering to planning regulations has increased dramatically and could be removing the supply of homes.

Furthermore, there is increasing concern over the commercialisation of the listings on Airbnb, with an increase of 38% in the number of listings classified as multilistings (i.e. where the host has more than one listing).

We at the RLA are calling on the Government and the London Mayor to review the impact of the use of property sharing sites such as Airbnb on housing affordability and safety. The sharing economy is enabling businesses and individuals to profit on properties being used for long term on Airbnb and is preventing families, workers and young people from accessing affordable housing. We further recommend an assessment on the impact on London rents, and the education of tenants and landlords on the issue of sub-letting and the possible breaches of mortgage, insurance and licensing conditions.