For those looking to earn some extra cash, the ease of being able to rent out their spare room or property at the push of a button (without the paperwork of being a landlord) has increased the number of Airbnb hosts.
Over 4 million people use the home sharing platform in over 100,000 cities around the world.
But one city fell in love with the app.
Florence, one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations, now plans to ban landlords from turning to short-term rental platforms like Airbnb to help solve its housing crisis.
Short-term rentals causing a housing crisis
As students in Florence camp out in tents on campuses to protest the lack of affordable housing, its mayor has criticized the central government’s ‘completely ineffective’ crackdown on rental housing that is driving up rents and affecting housing availability .
“The housing emergency has become a national emergency, at the top of the agenda of many cities in our country,” said the mayor of the Tuscan city, Dario Nardella. pointing to over-tourism and the explosion of short-term vacation rentals as the main drivers of the crisis.
In response, Nardella has taken matters into his own hands, announcing yesterday that new proposals will be passed by local government to block any new short-term rentals.
Its measures, dubbed “saving historic city centers”, will not impact properties already active on Airbnb or similar.
But, according to local Italian newspapersthe measures now prohibit owners of the Unesco site from listing their property on sites like Airbnb.
Additionally, the mayor plans to incentivize current short-term vacation home hosts to convert their homes to long-term rentals with tax breaks.
Under the plan, property taxes on a second home would be waived for up to three years, which could represent up to thousands of dollars in savings, for owners who stop using Airbnb.
A global problem
Florence is not the only city where homes are held hostage by those who want to take advantage of vacationers.
Cities in the United States, Portugal, Spain, Britain, Canada, France and more are complaining that the highly profitable vacation rental market has created a shortage of supply, driving up rents, driven out residents and resulted in “ghost towns”.
A popular coastal hotspot in the UK, Cornwall, has 20 times more properties available on Airbnb than it has for long-term rental. Meanwhile, in New York last April, the number of rental units available was around 7,669 compared to more than 10,500 Airbnb rentals, according to AirDNA.
This prompted many cities, including New York, to draft restrictions on short-term rentals similar to those proposed by Nardella.
But unsurprisingly, that didn’t go over well with Airbnb.
The San Francisco-based online vacation home market yesterday filed a lawsuit against the Big Apple over the new law which it described as a “de facto ban” on short-term rentals.