Investors are snapping up condos in the heart of Boston like nobody's business, and Mayor Walsh's proposed regulations wouldn't do enough to stop them from squeezing out people who actually want to live in the city, according to a study by a consortium of neighborhood groups.
Some 70% of the Airbnb listings in "downtown" neighborhoods - Downtown, Back Bay, Bay Village, Beacon Hill, Chinatown, the Fenway, the North End, the South End and the West End - are owned by investors, a far higher percentage than in New York, San Francisco and London, according to a study released yesterday by the Alliance of Downtown Civic Organizations.
The alliance estimates there are currently about 1,730 total units in the neighborhoods available for short-term stays, and currently unregulated by the city.
Last month, Walsh proposed restrictions and fees on owners of units available for short-term stays, with the fees ranging from $25 a year for people who actually live in their units but occasionally rent out a room to $500 per unit for condos owned by investors. The proposal is now before the City Council for hearings.
The alliance argues that doesn't go far enough; that the city should ban investor-owned nightly apartment/condo rentals entirely, as some cities, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, have done.
In a statement, alliance Chairman Ford Cavallari says:
Many good, hard-working Boston residents are using AirBnB to help make the rent or pay the mortgage. This ordinance, however, overlooks the serious difference between residential owners listing their units short-term, and professional investors and speculators looking to exploit our market. Boston residents should be treated differently than investors, but they are treated exactly the same in the proposed ordinance. This needs to change. ...
These high numbers of multi-unit listers (aka investors) clearly demonstrate that AirBnB ownership in Boston is more a business than a residential pursuit. Boston should do what most other large cities, like San Francisco, LA, Portland and New York City are doing, and eliminate all investor units in the nightly market. If we want to save our housing stock, the formula is simple. Fewer investor-controlled AirBnB-type units means more affordable, available long-term housing.
Other findings in the alliance report:
- Most Airbnb listings - 62% citywide, 85% in Boston Proper - are for entire units, not just single rooms.
- 60% of all Boston listings are for investor units.
- Investors make up only 7% of the total Airbnb listing owners, but their properties make up 60% of the city's whole-unit Airbnb inventory.
- In Boston Proper, just 2% of the total listed owners account for almost 40% of whole-unit listings.