If your partners are AirBnb, WeWork and Covene...

David Goldsmith

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Airbnb and RXR nix resi conversion deal at 75 Rock
10 floors of the 33-story tower would have housed 200 hotel-style units

A deal between Airbnb and RXR Realty that was touted as a “21st-century hospitality model” will never see the light of day.
The short-term rental giant and the landlord are pulling the plug on a 10-floor residential rental conversion at 75 Rockefeller Plaza, according to Business Insider. The companies said last year that they would bring 200 hotel-style units to the 33-story office tower.
The coronavirus pandemic has battered demand for hotel rooms, making it difficult to justify new supply, RXR CEO Scott Rechler told the publication. “Airbnb and RXR mutually agreed that under the circumstances it didn’t make sense to proceed with the project,” he said.

RXR, which has overhauled 75 Rock since it took control of the building in 2013, had positioned the building as a startup incubator.

Shared office-space provider Convene — which counts RXR and Brookfield among its backers — has 28,000 square feet in the building. The startup was also tapped to run “Club 75,” an invitation-only penthouse lounge at the top of the tower.

WeWork was set to manage 90,000 square feet of shared-office space at the property, but the Business Insider report did not provide an update on the status of that deal.

With falling revenues, hospitality firms have been cutting staff and seeking federal relief

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
But I guess it could be worse:

“Nightmare” on Broad Street: lawsuit
Complaint pins drug dealing, harassment on Sonder guests at Metroloft's 20 Broad

Short-term rentals in a luxury high-rise — what could go wrong?
Try “nightmarish living conditions” ranging from armed robbery to harassment, according to a lawsuit by two tenants at 20 Broad Street in the Financial District.
In a 54-page complaint filed Monday in New York, the disgruntled tenants at Metroloft Management’s office-to-residential conversion detailed a myriad of grievances that they largely pinned on Sonder, a hospitality startup that occupies the first eight floors.
“Sonder is the worst kind of nightmare neighbor one could imagine,” the complaint said. “It showed up unexpected and uninvited, trashed the place and the neighborhood, and now refuses to leave.”

Founded in 2012, the San Francisco-based company inked a master lease for 169 units at 20 Broad in 2018. Nathan Berman’s Metroloft acquired the leasehold for the building in a 2015 deal valued at $200 million and converted it into 533 luxury apartments. Available rentals include a studio asking $3,500 a month and a two-bedroom asking $5,546, according to StreetEasy.

In the complaint, the tenants claimed neither Metroloft nor a leasing agent from Bold New York told them Sonder operated in the building. Upon moving in, the complaint said, they found “unfinished” conditions including no gas or hot water in the kitchen.

But they alleged the bigger issue was the security threat posed by guests of Sonder, which is valued at more than $1 billion after raising more than $400 million from investors.

“While Sonder is venture-capital backed and has raised several hundred million dollars to date, its business model betrays a total lack of accountability to, or concern for, the communities in which it operates,” the complaint states. “Sonder’s guests cause a disproportionate number of issues, including but not limited to drug use, drug dealing, theft, harassment, armed robbery, and assault, all of which have occurred in the building in just under a year.”

Sonder and Bold declined to comment. Metroloft did not immediately respond to a request for comment. All three were named as defendants by the lawsuit.

Short-term rental companies, including Airbnb, have taken steps to enhance safety. But the homes they offer are generally unattended and lawsuits have been filed by residents unhappy about them being rented out for short-term stays.

In their complaint, the tenants at 20 Broad claimed neither Sonder nor Metroloft did enough to ensure their safety. Citing documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Law, the complaint cited nine police reports associated with the building in 2019.

In November, the complaint said, six armed men walked in the front door, rode the elevator to the ninth floor, crashed a Sonder party and “viciously beat one of the attendees” with a gun before leaving the same way they came.

The incident, which the New York Post reported, stoked fear among residents given that building staff with a special key fob can enter any residence. According to the complaint, building representatives occasionally used their fobs without permission and in some cases entered apartments “when residents were engaged in extremely private and sensitive moments without clothes.”

The complaint further alleged that in February residents were informed that the city’s Department of Health was testing the water below the 12th floor for the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease. Over the next few weeks, as the coronavirus tore through the city and New Yorkers stayed home, building management shut off the water to do plumbing work.

According to the complaint, Sonder’s background checks on guests are insufficient, particularly since 20 Broad is adjacent to the New York Stock Exchange. “Sonder and Management have potentially created a major national security vulnerability,” the suit stated.

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
Airbnb banked on short-term rentals. Can it continue without them?
The home-share giant invested in niche players as it grew. Now it’s in survival mode as the wider market crumbles

Just over a year ago, Lyric was riding high.
On the heels of a $160 million funding round led by Airbnb, the short-term rental startup was plotting a massive expansion in the spring of 2019. Employees mused about buyouts and stock options.
“It was a big deal,” said a former Lyric executive who asked not to be named. “We were depending on a fundraise to grow the company, plus to have a big and well-known company like Airbnb back us was definite street cred.”
The euphoria was short-lived. Lyric all but shut down in late June after coronavirus ravaged the travel and hospitality industries.
Over the past decade, Airbnb created a booming industry for short-term rentals, investing in smaller players and seeding a sprawling network of startups. As of 2018, the global market value of the short-term rental industry was estimated at $169 billion, according to a Skift research report. With the market now reeling, the strength of that expansive network is being tested.

Zeus Living, the corporate housing startup that Airbnb backed in December, laid off 30 percent of its staff this spring. Oyo Hotels & Homes, the fast-growing budget chain out of India backed by both Airbnb and SoftBank, is shuttering hotels after losing $335 million last year. A partnership with home-share startup Niido, led by Miami developer Harvey Hernandez, recently dissolved in litigation. And by July, Lyric had all but shut down after closing most locations and pivoting to software development.

Other investors might have bailed out their struggling companies, and some did. In May, Zeus got a $15 million lifeline from backers including CEAS Investments I and Soros Fund Management — but not Airbnb.
“At their core, they’re not an investment firm,” Seth Borko, a senior research analyst at Skift said of Airbnb, which saw its valuation fall to $18 billion from $26 billion in March.

“You have to ask yourself, are [side investments] nice-to-have or need-to-have?” Borko noted. “If you’re Airbnb, any investment in a company other than your own is no longer necessary.”

In a May 5 letter to Airbnb employees, CEO Brian Chesky put it this way: “This crisis has sharpened our focus to get back to our roots, back to the basics. This means that we will need to reduce our investment in activities that do not directly support the core of our host community.”
The domino effect
Since its 2008 launch, San Francisco–based Airbnb has spawned businesses ranging from property managers to rental empires. In recent years, to build a comprehensive travel platform, it began backing some of the very businesses it inspired.

Doing so was a “win, win, win for those plugged into the ecosystem,” Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s global head of policy, told Bloomberg last year.

For startups, the upside was obvious: associating with Airbnb boosted their profile and hiring power in a cutthroat industry. “Being able to say ‘We’re the horse Airbnb chose to bet on’ matters,” Borko noted.

Smaller players could also expect Airbnb to drive traffic to their sites, even if the investment didn’t require firms to exclusively list properties on Airbnb, which most didn’t. “Their value proposition resonated with a lot of startups,” said Jordan Nof, co-founder and managing partner of Tusk Venture Partners, which also backed Lyric.

For Oyo, the stakes were even higher. The budget hotel chain was already well-funded by SoftBank and other venture capital players when Airbnb invested a rumored $150 million to $200 million last year. That came as Oyo was looking to expand globally, and it validated the company’s narrative as a travel-industry disruptor.

The connection to Airbnb also lent gravitas to Oyo’s 26-year-old founder, Ritesh Agarwal, as he led the company toward a presumptive IPO.
“You’ve got the SoftBank capital, you’ve got the very aggressive expansion plans, you’ve got the astronomical valuation,” said Michael Norris, a researcher at AgencyChina, a marketing firm that tracks Oyo. “What you perhaps are missing is the star-studded board that makes the 20-something-year-old founder and CEO look like he’s surrounded by the smartest people in the room.”

For Airbnb, the investments were part of a growth strategy crucial to its own prospective IPO. Having evolved beyond its couch-surfing roots, Airbnb was hungry for professionally managed inventory, which it found in Niido, Zeus, Lyric and others. “They wanted to be a broader, travel umbrella brand,” Borko said. “Those investments had a lot to do with trying to ensure a flourishing ecosystem on its platform.”

In particular, the deals boosted Airbnb’s access to inventory in big cities, where it previously tangled with local politicians anxious to curb the growth of short-term rentals. With $3 billion in backing, Airbnb had enough dry powder to not only fill gaps in its offerings, but also test different models. Zeus opened the door on corporate travel, Lyric targeted upscale urban travelers, Niido promised a pipeline of managed multifamily developments, and Oyo gave it a foothold in the fast-growing Indian travel market.

“For Airbnb … the intel of what these companies are up to is probably worth the price of admission in and of itself,” said Bradley Tusk, CEO of Tusk Ventures.
In 2017, Airbnb and Miami-based Newgard Development Group announced a deal to develop several Airbnb-branded buildings. The partnership was designed to streamline short-term rentals and overcome the regulations that threatened them, according to Hernandez, CEO of NDG and a co-founder of Niido.

“[Airbnb] knew if they wanted to grow they needed to be multifamily and they wanted to be in an environment where their actual product and the owner of the real estate embraced that activity,” he said. “Why? Because you see how every city is fighting them.”

But Niido’s partnership with Airbnb imploded even before Covid. Airbnb sued in January, claiming it invested $11 million in the partnership with NGD, which failed to deliver 12 of 14 planned buildings. Airbnb further alleged Hernandez siphoned $1 million of the investment into another one of his projects. The case has since been settled. Hernandez declined to comment on the matter, citing confidentiality.

Airbnb’s bet on Oyo also lost its luster as reports of the Indian chain’s “toxic” culture and financial mismanagement surfaced. After a splashy launch in the U.S., Oyo faced regulatory scrutiny when it failed to secure franchise rights in several states.

“There was a strategic rationale,” Simon Lehmann, co-founder of travel industry advisory firm AJL Consulting, said of Airbnb’s investments. “But to be perfectly honest, it felt more like trial and error.”
With that in mind, observers speculated Airbnb wasn’t in it for a big payday.

“Traditional lead investors will think about reputational risks” and invest as much as possible to make “venture math” work in their favor, Tusk Ventures’ Nof said. “For Airbnb, the relationship and partnership is what they’re after.”
Plagued by the pandemic
Even if Airbnb emphasized relationships over profits, no one saw Covid coming.

“There was a strategic rationale. But to be perfectly honest, it felt more like trial and error.” — Simon Lehmann, AJL Consulting
In Beijing, Airbnb bookings plunged 96 percent from January to March, according to analytics firm AirDNA. In the U.S., hosts saw $1.5 billion in bookings disappear almost overnight.

“In this crisis, it felt like I was a captain of a ship and a torpedo hit,” Chesky told NPR in late April.
Oyo, valued at $10 billion before the pandemic, slashed thousands of jobs as it bled cash.
Smaller companies, buoyed by Airbnb’s deep pockets just months earlier, fared no better, nor did companies adjacent to the travel startup. Loftium, a Seattle firm that leased 700 units and rented them to Airbnb hosts, laid off half its staff in March after failing to pay rent. In an interview with the Seattle Times, CEO Yifan Zhang blamed the “sudden and significant” loss in Airbnb income.
“The ones that were hinging on Airbnb to validate their business model, now they’re stuck,” Nof said. “The space got really crowded, really quickly. [And] all of a sudden it came to a grinding halt.”
The slew of players with master lease agreements — including Lyric — were in a particularly tight spot, facing lost revenue and mounting bills. “That’s the fatal flaw,” said Jesse DePinto, co-founder of Frontdesk, another short-term rental player that has both master leases and revenue-sharing agreements with landlords. “They had guaranteed rent payments that they were more or less obligated to pay in good times and bad.”

For many, things came crashing down. Unable to sustain itself, Lyric laid off the majority of its employees and moved to close most of the 400 units in its portfolio.
“Many people would probably have thought, ‘Oh shoot, Airbnb is investing in Lyric and Zeus. Clearly they will use their massive ability to put their thumb on the scale to help those companies succeed,’” said a source familiar with Airbnb’s investments. But Covid underscored that fallacy. “Where was the Airbnb firepower? Where was the strategic component of the investment? It’s hard to point to any obvious evidence of that happening in either case,” the source said.
Zeus Living, which lost $2.5 million in bookings in March, asked many landlords to cancel leases or switch to a revenue-sharing model. But there were bigger financial problems looming. Bloomberg reported it lacked the cash to comply with a covenant tied to a loan from Soros Fund Management. Zeus, which raised $55 million last year, got a $15 million lifeline in May. The round valued it at $110 million — barely half of its $205 million valuation last year.
Kulveer Taggar, Zeus’ CEO, did not respond to requests for comment.
Airbnb itself found itself in a similar boat. With its IPO uncertain, it raised $2 billion in debt and equity in April but saw its valuation plunge.
After the pandemic hit, some startups were comforted knowing Airbnb was facing a similar tsunami. “When you’re in the short-term rental industry, you cannot ignore Airbnb,” said Omer Rabin, managing director of the Americas for Guesty, an Israeli startup that helps hosts manage their properties.
“The ones that were hinging on Airbnb to validate their business model, now they’re stuck.” — Jordan Nof, Tusk Venture Partners
On average, 60 percent of the company’s bookings are Airbnb. In March, Guesty placed 10 percent of its employees on unpaid leave and cut executives’ salaries. Staff were later notified that the period of unpaid leave would be extended and salaries would be further reduced. The company was also looking to “reduce costs through other means unrelated to human resources,” a spokesperson told Calcalist.
“We all shared the panic,” Rabin said. Since May, when travel restrictions eased, he added, “We’re all sharing the optimism of the industry bouncing back.”
Rebound mode
Early June brought the first signs of that possible recovery.
After an uptick in bookings, Chesky revisited the idea of an IPO this year, noting that Airbnb wasn’t ruling it out.
That same month, the company agreed to hand over listing information about its hosts to the New York City government, settling a yearslong legal dispute in one of its biggest domestic markets — a significant stumbling block in its path to a public debut.
Even before the pandemic, Airbnb was under pressure to go public, with two tranches of employee equity set to expire in November 2020 and in mid-2021, according to the New York Times. The company was reportedly leaning toward a direct listing rather than a traditional IPO.
But Airbnb also looks very different from its pre-Covid self, after laying off nearly 2,000 employees and paring down its focus to its core business — stripping away novelty projects such as transportation, Airbnb Studios and luxury rentals.
Against that backdrop, investments in outside firms seemed inconceivable. “I will go on the record to say that travel will never, ever go back to the way it was,” Chesky told Axios in late June.
Nonetheless, Airbnb is banking on its hosts to ensure it can meet demand when travel resumes, in whatever form that may take. In particular, the home-share giant is betting that guests will prefer staying in homes over hotels to minimize their virus exposure. “Homes is still a critical driver of Airbnb revenues,” said Makarand Mody, an assistant professor of hospitality marketing at Boston University.

“If you’re Airbnb, any investment in a company other than your own is no longer necessary.” — Seth Borko, Skift Research
In the U.S., two-thirds of Airbnb’s supply comes from professional hosts or investors. For that reason, Mody said, the company is keeping a close eye on what percentage of supply makes it through the pandemic.

The startup’s relationship with many of its hosts was tested after Airbnb changed its cancellation policy in response to the pandemic, triggering a backlash that prompted Chesky to apologize and launch a relief fund for hosts. Still, some opted to leave the platform in favor of long-term rentals, as they struggled to make ends meet without a steady flow of short-term guests.
“Airbnb is in a damage limitation mode,” Mody said. “They don’t want to lose too many of the professional investors; that’s the model that’s been driving Airbnb’s growth over the last five years.”
Branching out
In addition to retaining hosts, Airbnb’s strategy of offering more than just home-sharing — a move that predates the pandemic — remains in motion. In July, the company announced that its online “experiences” platform had become its fastest-growing product.
“There’s certainly been a concerted effort to expand out of the short-term accommodation segment of travel and expand into increasing their wallet share of travel spending in general,” said Arun Sundararajan, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business.
And as people look for rural escapes, there is far less demand for urban units operated by the likes of Lyric, Zeus and others. Airbnb data show that while overall host earnings have slowed during the pandemic, hosts in rural areas saw a 25 percent bump in June, with earnings over $200 million.
Airbnb has also been promoting longer stays, appeasing nervous hosts and capitalizing on demand among city dwellers looking for a break from cramped apartments. Rabin, of Guesty, said short-term rental inventory is not lost; it’s simply changing hands. For example, after U.K.-based Hostmaker, an Airbnb management service, went out of business in March, rival Houst picked up some of its assets.
In the U.S., Frontdesk has acquired abandoned units from failed competitors. “Coronavirus is clearing the deck of amateur hosts,” said DePinto, whose company raised a $6.7 million Series A funding round during the pandemic. He said there was a moment in early March when he thought of calling it quits. Since then, he has watched competitors drop. “All we have to do,” DePinto said, “is survive.”
Similarly, hospitality startup Sonder raised $170 million in June from investors bullish on its outlook. “A crisis like this is really a crucible for business models and for individual companies,” said Frits van Paasschen, former CEO of Starwood Hotels and a Sonder board member. “The ones that survive a test like this … have very good long-term prospects.”
Lyric co-founder Joe Fraiman, who quietly left the company in July, told Forbes he didn’t know if the startup would last another year.
But like many in the business world, he sees promise through the wreckage.
“Change in the industry is going to create new opportunity,” he said. “And I want to go after it.”

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
Airbnb tore through $1.2B in year before IPO
Report shows how pandemic accelerated company’s cash burn

You’ve got to spend money to make money, right?
That could be Airbnb’s mantra after burning through a reported $1.2 billion in the year leading up to its initial public offering.
Journalists at The Information obtained financial documents that offer new insight into the company’s position between mid 2019 and mid 2020. The publication’s report this week shows that most of the $1.2 billion was wiped away in the first quarter of 2020, as Airbnb was weathering the collapse of global travel and a barrage of refund requests from guests and hosts.

The company bolstered its cash reserves in April when it raised $1 billion in equity and debt — at 11 percent interest — in a funding round led by Silver Lake and Sixth Street Partners. It raised another $1 billion in debt, again with high interest, later that month.

As it tried to stabilize, Airbnb’s revenues were in a nose dive, dropping 72 percent in the second quarter, the report said. To cut costs, the company laid off almost 2,000 staff and slashed spending on advertising and product development.
Still, the company went through $850 million in the first half of the year, according to The Information, including a $114 million restructuring fee.
The company also reported a $53 million non-cash investment impairment charge. As The Real Deal reported, several of the companies Airbnb invested in, including Lyric, Oyo and Zeus Living, have struggled financially since the pandemic hit.

Airbnb, which is expected to go public in December, is hoping its sharp uptick in bookings in recent months convinces investors that its business model is both resilient and sustainable.
According to Reuters, the company is looking to raise $3 billion for a valuation of $30 billion.

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

Barcelona may tighten rules on short-term rentals…again​

A tourist hub, Spain’s second largest city has already heavily regulated industry over the years​

The mayor of Barcelona is proposing new restrictions on short-term rentals.
Mayor Ada Colau wants to bar the rental of a room in an apartment for anything less than 30 days, according to Bloomberg. The measure will go to public review and then a vote by the city council. With nearly 1.5 million people, Barcelona is Spain’s second largest city.

Colau’s proposed rule would make permanent a similar measure that has been in place since August.

The law is meant to “guarantee the social function of housing and avoid a saturation of tourist rooms,” that would hurt housing and local trade, according to a statement from her office.
The city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and there are plenty of residents that say the short-term rental industry is out of control. Lawmakers in other European tourist hubs, like Paris, have also regulated short-term rentals.

Barcelona has heavily regulated the short-term rental industry over the years. It started in 2011 with a licensing requirement for short-term rentals of entire apartments. In 2018, the city rolled out a host identification system to verify if units on short-term rental platforms like Airbnb were legal.
Those measures appear to be having some impact. The number of tourist beds in central Barcelona has dropped by 940 since 2017, although overall the number of beds is increasing because of growth in the city’s outer boroughs.

The city has passed some tenant-friendly laws in recent years. As of 2019, landlords must negotiate leases based on benchmark prices set for each of the city’s neighborhoods.

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

Airbnb’s losses balloon to $4.6B in 2020​

Revenue dropped 30% YOY​

Despite the luster of its eye-popping IPO, Airbnb reported a $4.6 billion net loss in 2020 in its first earnings report as a public company.
The hospitality startup, which is banking on a travel rebound, generated $3.4 billion in revenue last year, a 30 percent year-over-year decline. Although the pandemic whalloped the travel industry, Airbnb’s net loss was also driven by $2.8 billion worth of stock compensation expenses it incurred in its IPO in December.

During the fourth quarter, those expenses led to a staggering $3.9 billion net loss. But that wasn’t the only reason: During the last three months of the year, Airbnb generated $859 million in revenue, down 22 percent year over year.
Still, things could have been far worse.

With most major cities on lockdown last year, Airbnb projected its 2020 revenue could be less than half its $4.8 billion in earnings in 2019. Overnight, the company lost $1 billion in bookings and was forced to lay off 25 percent of its staff.

By August, travel began to pick up and Airbnb disclosed it would go public by the year’s end.
In a letter to shareholders Thursday, Airbnb said 2020 demonstrated the company’s “resilience.” The letter struck a hopeful tone that travel would continue to open up and Airbnb would be ready when it did.
During Airbnb’s first earnings call as a public company, CEO Brian Chesky outlined the company’s history — from its start in San Francisco through the pandemic and its IPO. “We are still in a pandemic and a lot of people are hurting,” he said. “We know how lucky we are to be in the position we’re in.”

He said despite facing the “biggest crisis the travel industry has ever seen,” Airbnb’s business model has been “inherently adaptable.”
“We don’t think we’re ever going back to the world of travel in 2019,” Chesky said. “A world of Zoom is a world where people can work from home or any home on Airbnb.” With increased flexibility, people are booking extended weekends, or they are traveling for weeks or months at a time. “Many people are snow birding,” he said.

Ahead of its earnings, Airbnb’s market cap was $108.8 billion, after closing at $200 per share on Feb. 24. The closing price was $182 per share on Thursday, after the Nasdaq Composite dropped 3 percent. (Airbnb reported its earnings after the market’s close.)
Airbnb’s stock skyrocketed on its first day of trading in December. Ahead of the IPO, the company priced shares at $68. The price immediately shot up to $146.

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

City Council bill would tighten screws on Airbnb​

Measure would require rentals to be registered, aiding enforcement​

Putting a New York City apartment up for rent could get tougher.
City Council member Ben Kallos introduced a bill Wednesday that would require apartments rented through home-sharing sites such as Airbnb to be registered with the city, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The bill aims to reduce the number of illegal short-term rentals and increase the stock of permanent housing in the city, the publication reported. It also hopes to reduce competition for the hotel industry, which saw major losses due to the pandemic.
Renting an entire apartment in a building with three or more units for less than 30 days is illegal in the city, but the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement generally only finds out if a neighbor complains.

Kallos believes his bill would prevent thousands of illegal short-term rentals from ever being listed on Airbnb and other sites, the publication reported. Airbnb opposes the measure.
Alex Dagg, the northeast policy director for Airbnb, suggested the legislation would curb tourism when the city desperately needs it, but told the Journal, “We remain ready and willing to partner with state and city officials to regulate home-sharing across all five boroughs in a responsible and thoughtful way.”

Airbnb guests contribute billions of dollars to the city’s tourism industry and supported 17,000 jobs in 2019, according to the publication. But the apartments they use are unavailable for tenants, exacerbating the city’s housing shortage and affordability problem. They also divert visitors from hotels, which angers the hotel industry and the politically active Hotel Trades Council, which represents hotel workers.

The proposed legislation comes as pandemic restrictions come to an end and a big year for new hotel openings is forecast.
Listings would get a registration number that would be displayed on the platform, and the city would be required to maintain an electronic system for short-term rental sites to verify that a unit has been registered.

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

New York City, Facing Housing Crisis, Targets Owners of Illegal Airbnbs​

New legislation will require hosts of short-term rentals to register with the city — the latest move in a long battle between New York and the rental companies.

Airbnb recently announced that it had its best quarter ever, reflecting a surging thirst for travel and tourism as the pandemic’s grip loosens. But in New York City, the company is at the center of a different narrative: City leaders, after fighting for years to limit the proliferation of illegal short-term rentals, are poised to impose more stringent restrictions on the online platform.
The City Council on Thursday approved a bill that would for the first time require hosts to register with the city before renting out their homes on a short-term basis or for less than 30 days. The measure mirrors regulations in other cities like Boston and Santa Monica, Calif.
In New York City, one of Airbnb’s biggest domestic markets, city officials and housing advocates have long complained that landlords and tenants have exacerbated the housing crisis by circumventing laws and setting aside homes to rent out for a few days at a time to tourists or other visitors. Short-term rentals are often more lucrative than long-term leases.
And the hotel industry, which has been decimated by the pandemic, has long complained about Airbnb and similar online rental companies, accusing them off siphoning away business.

The new bill is designed to prevent rentals that violate those laws — including a New York State law that largely bars apartment rentals for less than 30 days when the host is not present — from even appearing online. Supporters said the new restrictions would lead to the gradual removal of thousands of listings for such illegal rentals from short-term rental websites.
“We don’t have enough housing, and anything we can do to put housing back on the market is a good thing,” said Councilman Ben Kallos, a Democrat who represents the Upper East Side and was a sponsor of the bill.

Both City Council speaker Corey Johnson and Mayor Bill de Blasio support the bill, city officials said, and the rules will take effect 12 months after the legislation becomes law.
The push to impose a registration requirement reflects the way that cities worldwide are trying to regulate short-term or vacation rentals offered by companies like Airbnb and its competitor Vrbo, now part of the Expedia Group. The regulation comes as the companies have been helped by a shift to remote work and a rebound in travel.

And it is the latest development in a long battle officials in New York have waged with the companies.

City officials, the hotel industry and advocacy groups have long criticized Airbnb for not doing more to clamp down on illicit rentals. In 2018, Airbnb sued after New York City tried to force it and other platforms to share more data about hosts, resulting in a settlement in June 2020.
The new bill is far more stringent, said Michael McKee, a member of the Coalition Against Illegal Hotels, a group of neighborhood and pro-tenant organizations.
“We think this will be the most effective way to get rid of illegal hotel activity,” said Mr. McKee, who is also part of Tenants PAC, an advocacy group that helped write the bill. “It might take two to three years, but eventually this is going to make it virtually impossible for bad actor landlords to convert what should be residential apartments into short-term rentals.”

Airbnb has opposed the bill, arguing that the company was helping New York City’s lagging economy during the pandemic.
Alex Dagg, the Northeast policy director for Airbnb, said in a statement this week that the bill “hurt middle-class families in the outer boroughs looking to make a little extra money” and was “especially puzzling given the city is trying to resuscitate tourism.”
The company also turned to hosts for support. Some of them argued that income from guests has helped them afford New York’s skyrocketing housing costs.
Expedia Group did not respond to a request for comment.
The debate over the bill highlights the tension between two forces playing out in New York. On the one hand, the city is a top destination for domestic and global travelers, and tourism has become a key pillar of the local economy, which has been battered by the pandemic. On the other, a severe housing crisis means there is a shortage of homes available to residents, driving up rents.

According to data from Inside Airbnb, an independent data-tracking website, there were more than 37,700 Airbnb listings in New York City at the beginning of November 2021. That was significantly below the prepandemic level of more than 49,200 in November 2019.
Still, the numbers last month were notably higher than for the same period in other big American cities. There were more than 6,500 listings in Chicago and more than 17,900 listings in Los Angeles, according to Inside Airbnb.
Several studies have shown the emergence of Airbnb can contribute to a modest increase in rents, though other research has raised questions about the link, said Kellen Zale, a law professor at the University of Houston Law Center who has researched municipal regulation of Airbnb.
The push to regulate short-term rentals has taken place mostly in higher-priced coastal cities or resort towns, she said, and governments have used a variety of different strategies, including outright bans, registration systems like the one being considered in New York and a cap on the number of days people can host short-term visitors.

In some cases, Airbnb has partnered with cities. In Portland, Ore., city officials and the company announced in 2019 after years of back-and-forth that Airbnb was going to build a registration system into its website and share data on listings with the city every month.
The bill passed by the New York City Council is modeled after a regulation in Santa Monica that led to a lawsuit from online home rental sites, which was ultimately rejected by a federal appeals court.
Ensuring that hosts do in fact register their homes with local governments has proved challenging in other communities.

The bill’s supporters said New York’s measure had been designed to ensure compliance because it requires online rental platforms like Airbnb to verify that a listing has been properly registered with the city before the platform can collect any fees. Fines for hosts who fail to abide by the rule would be up to $5,000, and platforms like Airbnb would be fined $1,500 for every illegal transaction.

Mr. Johnson said that illegal rentals “are a danger to our communities and take away affordable housing at a time when we need it desperately.” He added that the bill would ensure the “lawful and safe use of our homes.”
It’s not clear exactly how many of the listings in New York City are illegal, and the effectiveness of the new bill will depend in part on how well the city enforces it once it is signed into law. In places like Santa Monica, Boston and San Francisco, data has shown a modest to significant decrease in the number of listings after a registration system went into place.
Based on the number of listings advertising short-term rentals for entire homes or apartments in the city, suggesting a host may not be present, supporters of the bill estimate that up to roughly 19,000 Airbnb listings could be illegal and eventually delisted.
But Stephen Smith, a co-founder of Quantierra, a real estate firm, questioned how much of an impact the new measure would have, saying that many illegal listings had already been delisted. And, he added, even if the estimates were accurate, it would not do enough to stem the city’s housing crisis.

“These politicians seem to think that this is going to do something for affordability, and in fact it’s likely to do very little,” he said.
The combination of the bill along with another city initiative to curb new hotel development could greatly reduce the number of affordable places visitors to the city can stay, Mr. Smith said.
“If you really make it difficult enough for people to come to New York, they’re going to stop coming to New York,” he said.

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
I don't feel badly for any landlord who knowingly rented to an AirBnb "host." If you rented 1 guy 4 units what did you think he was doing with them?


“Wolf of Airbnb” terrorizing landlords​

Apartment building owners say Konrad Bicher has sophisticated operation​

He calls himself the Wolf of Airbnb.
Konrad Bicher, 30, is making a fortune allegedly running an illegal Airbnb operation in Manhattan while skipping out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent, according to several landlords who say they’ve been menaced by the self-styled hustler.

The short-term stay tycoon has in several instances claimed Covid rent hardships and tried to strongarm buyouts from landlords, knowing the eviction bans and court backlogs gave him the upper hand, property owners claim.

“He’s using the eviction moratorium against landlords knowing it’ll take months or even years to evict him … basically just making even more profit,” said one landlord who requested anonymity because he fears reprisal.
In court records Bicher has denied running illegal short-term rentals, even though his Instagram page indicates he considers himself the Jordan Belfort of Airbnb rentals. When contacted by The Real Deal, he did not respond to questions about the specific allegations against him.

The one question he did answer directly was about his lupine label.
“The Wolf of Airbnb: It means someone who is hungry and ruthless enough to get on top of the financial ladder,” he wrote in a text. “They compare the ferocity to that of a wolf, because wolves are territorial, vicious and show no mercy when provoked.”
On Bicher’s social media accounts, influencer-style photos depict him enjoying private jets and exotic vacation spots. But court records paint a picture of a deadbeat who won’t pay his rent and refuses to leave when his lease expires.

In legal filings, owners claim he owes roughly $450,000 in rent dating to at least February 2020. In at least five different instances, Bicher made hardship declarations saying he couldn’t pay his rent because of the pandemic, court records show.
Landlord Michael Aryeh filed lawsuits claiming Bicher owes more than $223,000 for four apartments in West Harlem.

Bicher rented the apartments in early 2020 but didn’t pay and refused to leave the units a year after his leases expired, according to the filings.
“Based on what my property manager has told me, he is using the pandemic as well as the eviction moratorium with not paying rent while he successfully Airbnb’s the apartments and profits from every single room in addition to adding illegal bedrooms to maximize his profit,” Aryeh told TRD by email.

Most of the apartments Bicher rents are in Upper Manhattan. A few are in Hell’s Kitchen and on the West Side.
But exactly where Bicher rests his head is something of a mystery. In fact, he and his attorney have gotten two lawsuits thrown out because landlords’ process servers couldn’t track him down to properly serve him. One landlord claimed in court records that Bicher is believed to stay at the luxury MiMa rental tower on West 42nd Street.

Landlords claim that in addition to unpaid rent, Bicher’s Airbnb operations have led to city violations on their properties.
Short-term rentals without the owner or regular tenant present have been banned in New York since 2011, when state lawmakers made it illegal to rent out a full apartment for fewer than 30 days. That hardly curtailed the use of sites like Airbnb and Vrbo, however, so in 2016 the state made it illegal to advertise illegal short-term rentals.

Enforcement has continued to be difficult, though, and has mostly focused on landlords, although illegal short-term rentals are commonly orchestrated by tenants as well.
The mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement has gone after property managers and owners suspected of running illegal hotels. The Department of Buildings can issue fines up to $7,500 per infraction.

In 2020, Airbnb reached a settlement with the city in which the company agreed to share listing information with hosts’ names, phone numbers, addresses and other details on the places they rent.
Airbnb debuted as a public company later that year. Its latest earnings report showed net income was $834 million in the third quarter, up 280 percent year-over-year.

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
Yes, the phenomenal news is that based on all-time high bookings they didn't lose as much money as was anticipated.

Airbnb’s losses narrow as bookings hit all-time high​

Longer stays, higher prices helped company beat estimates​

Pleasure travel is back with a vengeance, and Airbnb is reaping the rewards.
The company on Tuesday reported a record 102 million night and “experiences” bookings for the first quarter, surpassing the 100 million mark for the first time despite the war in Ukraine, rising interest rates and inflation plaguing consumers.
Hosts charged higher prices, pushing Airbnb’s revenue to $1.5 billion, beating Wall Street analysts’ estimate of $1.45 billion. The total represented a 70 percent annual increase and an 80 percent gain from the first quarter of 2019, before the pandemic temporarily dried up business for the short-term rental marketplace.
The San Francisco-headquartered company’s first-quarter net loss narrowed to $19 million from $1.2 billion last year as it logged a record $17.2 billion in gross booking value — the cumulative value of its nights and experiences bookings.

Net loss per share came to 3 cents, beating analysts’ estimate of 29 cents.
The beat, along with a better expected outlook for the year, drove Airbnb’s stock price up more than 7 percent in early trading Wednesday. Shares of the company, which went public in late 2020 during the depth of the pandemic in one of the year’s largest IPOs, are still down nearly 10 percent this year.
It isn’t clear how much of the surge in bookings last quarter came from increased vacation travel or more folks taking advantage of “work from anywhere” policies, but people are staying with hosts longer. Nearly half of first-quarter night bookings were for a week or more, CEO Brian Chesky said on an earnings call Tuesday.

Stays of a month or longer are its fastest growing category by length of time, accounting for 20 percent of first-quarter bookings, he said.
“Millions of people are now more flexible about where they live and where they work,” Chesky said. “And as a result, they’re spreading out to thousands of towns and cities, and they’re staying for weeks, months, or even entire seasons at a time.”

David Goldsmith

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Staff member

Brookfield sues Midtown tenants over illegal Airbnb scheme​

Landlord claimed five tenants used nine units at 315 West 33rd Street​

Brookfield Properties is trying to clean house in a Midtown West apartment building after tracking down what it describes as an illegal Airbnb operation.
The landlord sued five tenants at The Olivia, the Commercial Observer reported, claiming they rented out nine apartments on the short-term stay platform. While Brookfield has tried to evict those tenants from the 333-unit building at 315 West 33rd Street, the lawsuit aims to remove the ones who have refused to leave.

Brookfield said the operation began in 2020, according to a complaint filed in New York County Supreme Court. The landlord didn’t learn about it until the following year, when smart-lock company Latch showed strangers coming in and out of the unit for short-term stays, generally prohibited by state law.
Tenants complained of noise and smoke coming from the units and strangers wandering around after being locked out of their apartment, according to the complaint.
Brookfield last August served Mei Ru and Rui Wang with an eviction notice, which they only complied with after the case went to court. But court records say the pair brought three other residents into the fold, some of whom have refused to leave, despite eviction notices.
An Airbnb listing for an apartment in the building charges $528 per night. Rental units at The Olivia typically range from $4,100 to $8,000 per month.
Brookfield is seeking to bar the five tenants from renting apartments in the building, as well as $70,000 in back rent and legal fees. The money could help the landlord if it is fined by the city, which has been cracking down on illegal Airbnbs.

Housing advocates have for years pushed for action from the city to stop apartments being used for short-term rentals. Legal action against some arrangements have come as record high prices and low inventory worsened the city’s affordable housing crisis in the wake of the pandemic.
The city in July sued real estate broker Arron Latimer, who is accused of running a $2 million illegal short-term rental operation across six buildings in the city.
The city has a short-term rental registration program that will take effect in January. The law is designed to stop platforms such as Airbnb from processing transactions unless registration information matches a city database.
Brookfield Premier Real Estate Partners agreed to purchase the mixed-use building on West 33rd Street in 2020 from SL Green for $446.5 million. The property is 36 stories tall and includes 270,000 square feet of commercial space.

David Goldsmith

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How illegal Airbnbs slip through the cracks​

As it awaits new law, City Hall wages unwinnable war against short-term rentals​

In a three-story brick building in Queens, a couple was forced to move out of their one-bedroom rental in August because of an illegal Airbnb scheme.
But they weren’t the ringleaders. They were the ones who reported it.
Five months earlier the couple had nabbed the ground-floor unit in Flushing for just $1,700 a month. The husband, an undergrad student studying computer science, and his wife, a baker, signed a one-year lease and moved in by April.
Their joy was short-lived. At odd hours of the night, they would regularly wake to the doorbell ringing or furniture being dragged across the floor of the apartment above.

The pair, who requested anonymity to share their story with The Real Deal, told the landlord, who accompanied the husband upstairs to confront the tenant. Instead they found an Airbnb guest. The nighttime cacophony was coming from a steady parade of short-term renters.
The owner indicated this was news to her as well but took no action. And the noise continued.

With the racket becoming unbearable, the husband called 311. That got right back to the landlord, who casually told the couple — not the upstairs tenant — to move out. The upstairs tenant also found out about the complaint and threatened the husband during an encounter in the building.
Welcome to New York City’s short-term rental industry, where victims are powerless, profiteers run rampant and most visitors have no idea their stays are illegal.

The underlying problem: Illegal rentals are so common that the city can’t police them all, and Airbnb profits off them with little risk to itself.
“Any liability is going to fall on the host,” said the husband. “If any.”

A law in name only​

State law and city regulations are clear: Home rentals of fewer than 30 days are not permitted unless the permanent resident is present.

But that’s not clear at all to the millions of people who search Airbnb and other online platforms for a place to stay in New York City. The tenants and owners listing those units, however, do know they are breaking the law. They also know their chances of being caught are next to nothing. Safety in numbers.
The city and Airbnb have been at war over the issue for the past decade. Visitors who stay in Airbnbs help the city’s economy, but city officials want them to stay in hotels, not in apartments — especially with the tight housing supply driving up rents.

The city has enacted a series of measures intended to stamp out the problem, but each one has fallen short because of the incentives to break the law and the practical difficulty of enforcing it.

Now the Adams administration is hoping the latest statute, which aims to stop people from using the platforms without first registering with the city, will do the trick.

The enforcer​

All short-term rentals of entire homes are illegal in New York, but some are more illegal than others.
It is one of the most important lessons that Christian Klossner has learned in his seven years as executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, the unit tasked with stopping illegal rentals.

Airbnb has run ads portraying its users as single-property owners renting out rooms to help pay the bills, even to save their homes from foreclosure. The implication is clear: Why should that be illegal?
But Klossner and his 30 full-time staffers have neither the resources nor the interest to go after those owners. With about 13,000 homes in the city regularly being rented illegally, they target the operators taking the most units off the market.

“Someone who is living in their own home, occasionally renting it out a few times a year, and doing it in a way where they aren’t driving the neighbors crazy is not our priority,” said Klossner. “We have bigger fish to fry.”
In the 2000s, most of the work investigating short-term rentals was driven by complaints from 311 calls, community groups and elected officials. Large, Upper West Side buildings were a focus: Broadway Hotel & Hostel, Royal Park Hotel & Hostel and Marrakech Hotel.

Then, in 2008, Airbnb arrived. Renting out rooms became a do-it-yourself project, with the entire world as a customer base.
City regulators narrowed their efforts to commercial players with scores of listings and operators who generated complaints or put people’s safety at risk.
Besides alleviating the housing shortage, there was another motivation: protecting hotels and members of the politically powerful Hotel Trades Council who staff them. The union supported Bill de Blasio’s campaigns for mayor, governor and president and Eric Adams’ mayoral bid. It is supporting Gov. Kathy Hochul’s run for her first four-year term.

Large-scale illegal rental operations snatch business from the hotel industry. With lower property taxes and no hotel taxes, they can charge less than hotels. Most residential buildings also lack the extensive safety protocols required of hotels — which can have serious consequences.
“It’s an almost totally unregulated industry,” said Vijay Dandapani, president of the Hotel Association of New York City.

The hotel industry has funded private investigators and researchers to try to show that Airbnb is hurting New Yorkers, and the city has welcomed the assistance. Klossner’s team, which has lost more than 40 percent of its head count since peaking at 53 members in 2018, needs all the help it can get: Although it is easy for tourists to book illegal rentals, it is surprisingly hard to police them.

Catch me if you can​

For safety reasons, Airbnb doesn’t require users to specify the exact location of their listing so instead they use addresses a block or two away. Operators take that to the next level, using fake names, fake addresses and other tricks that make documenting illegality a painstaking enterprise.
“In the beginning, we had to rely on pictures of the apartment and descriptions of the neighborhood to find out where the listings really were,” Klossner said.

To efficiently find and shut down egregious operators, the city needed Airbnb’s private data. The company has long maintained that it does what it can to ensure its service is used legally, but it fought the city’s demands for extensive records, suing to block a disclosure law it considered too invasive.
In a settlement, the city got most of what it wanted in the law, which passed in 2020. Online, short-term rental platforms had to hand over quarterly data on bookings, including the address of each rental, the URL of the listing, details about the reservation, contact information about the host and bank accounts to which payouts were made.

The first major illegal operation identified using the law was an alleged $2 million scheme orchestrated by real estate broker Arron Latimer. When the city announced its lawsuit against Latimer in July, Airbnb released a statement that it had banned the host from the platform months before. It failed to mention that its action came after the city subpoenaed Airbnb for information on Latimer, or to explain why the operation had continued unchecked for four years.

Airbnb has a “one host, one home” policy, but, like a needlepoint sampler hanging on the wall, it is mostly decorative. The lack of imperative can be traced to Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act, which made online platforms legally immune from most of the content shared by their users.
“These online platforms hide behind this [federal] law while they let their users, who they say they care a tremendous amount about, take all the heat — and all the fines,” Klossner said.

Airbnb has for years sought legalization of short-term rentals in New York, which it says would generate substantial tax revenue for the state. But lawmakers have consistently rejected the offer, so the company has little reason to cooperate.
In a statement, Airbnb commended the Adams administration for taking action against illegal hotel operators.

“Airbnb currently shares information with the city, and looks forward to working with the city and state to build an effective and transparent regulatory framework to differentiate between the responsible hosts who should be protected under the law and operators of properties who have no place on our platform,” said Nathan Rotman, the company’s head of public policy in the region.

The city can penalize landlords and recover hosts’ illegally obtained revenue, but Airbnb’s profits — it pockets a minimum 3 percent commission on bookings — can’t be touched. In fact, one demand that the city dropped in its settlement with Airbnb was for rental platforms to disclose what they make from each transaction.
Although the 2020 law dramatically reduced the number of illegal listings and provides the city with quarterly reports showing lots of illegal rentals, the Office of Special Enforcement still has to observe illegal activity to penalize it. Like many city agencies, the unit is operating well below its budgeted head count. Another shortcoming of the law is that many transactions appear legal in the data but are not.

Klossner needed the Holy Grail: to make it impossible for hosts to book illegal rentals online in the first place.
The short-term rental registration law passed last year, which takes effect in January, could do that. It would for the first time require hosts to register their homes before renting them out. The city will vet applicants to make sure their homes are legal to rent for fewer than 30 days and provide a confirmation number, without which the platforms will not process the transaction.

The measure, which echoes others in cities including Boston and Santa Monica, also has teeth. Hosts face fines up to $5,000 and platforms can be dinged $1,500 for every illegal booking.
“I am confident that once this law is fully implemented, the scale of illegal activity on the site is going to be brought down to a manageable level,” said Klossner.
It will come too late for the husband and wife in Queens, who decided to leave, but not before doing considerable detective work to stop the illegal rentals upstairs.
“Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the time I’m a big advocate of minding your own business,” said the husband. “But when it affects my quality of life at home and I get threatened, I feel like this business becomes my business.”
However, because his neighbor’s listings did not show the address, it was like hunting for a needle in a field of haystacks. The wife persuaded one of the Airbnb guests to give her a screenshot confirming the booking. Knowing what the inside of the room looked like, the husband found the original Airbnb listing and the host, who had over 200 others across the city, according to the host’s Airbnb page.
“It just angers me, knowing that there’s a huge housing crisis right now,” he said.
It was unclear how many of the listings were for illegal rentals. Some were not active, and others allowed bookings beyond 30 days. At the very least, though, the host was violating Airbnb’s one-home, one-host policy.
In response to requests for comment from TRD, the Queens host blocked communication. TRD also contacted the landlord, who speaks only Mandarin, but she claimed to know nothing about the matter.
On Aug. 2, there was an update to the 311 complaint from June 25: “The Department of Buildings attempted to investigate this complaint but could not gain access to the location. Please schedule an appointment for a follow-up inspection by contacting the appropriate unit at the Department of Buildings.”
But the couple had already moved on, literally. After consulting a lawyer and realizing they could not afford to sue, the couple got the landlord to buy out their lease and moved to another apartment in Queens.
Although Airbnb did not grant an interview for this story, the company asked for TRD’s information on the host so it could investigate.
But the husband said Airbnb already has it. He said he complained to the booking giant about 20 times, offering detailed information about the host and the laws he was violating. Airbnb has yet to take any action.
“I fully expected it,” he said. “Airbnb investigated themselves and found nothing.”


David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
We are in a "housing crisis" but it is as much a situation of misallocation as shortage. Here in NYC owners are keeping close to 90,000 Rent Stabilized units vacant on purpose. There is an even greater number sitting empty because their owners can afford to use them simply to park money. But an increasing number of potential housing is being diverted to vacation rentals through websites like AirBnb. So many, in fact, that they are flooding that market.
#housing #Airbnb #realestate

David Goldsmith

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Staff member

The “Wolf of Airbnb” speaks out​

"Whatever rights that are out there, I’ll stand up for them”​

The man who gave himself the nom de guerre “The Wolf of Airbnb” shed some light on his origin story.
Konrad Bicher spoke to Curbed about about his colorful past and how he wound his way from a Mennonite family in Pennsylvania to the rentals of Upper Manhattan. His comments came prior to Oct. 28, when he was indicted for allegedly defrauding landlords with illegal listings.
Bicher, 31, claimed to the publication that his family thought it was a joke when he decided to move from Schuylkill County to New York City, eager to get a taste of the bright lights. When Bicher started listing his spare bedroom in Inwood on Airbnb, a light bulb seemed to go off.

“I was like, ‘Wow, what happens if I get 100 of these? Two hundred of these units?’ It was just a numbers game,” Bicher said. “That’s when everything changed.”
His alleged scheme took on mythic status in the succeeding years, roiling landlords around the city. He is accused of signing at least 18 leases in the past few years, collecting $1.2 million in income while dodging $1 million in rent payments. He’s facing multiple lawsuits from landlords seeking back rent.

Prosecutors also said Bicher’s companies allegedly used false information to secure $565,000 in Paycheck Protection Program loans.
Bicher implied to Curbed that his alleged scheme was a crusade against landlords, suggesting they were aware of his tactics and were actually exploitative.
“I’m a millennial. No one stands up for their rights anymore,” Bicher told Curbed. “I’ll always stand up for my rights. Whatever rights that are out there, I’ll stand up for them.”

After those comments, the wolf stopped howling.
Bicher’s arguments about rights might not carry much weight with prosecutors. New York in 2011 barred short-term rentals of fewer than 30 days without an owner or regular tenant present. In 2016, the state banned the advertising of illegal short-term rentals.
Bicher told The Real Deal that his self-appointed “Wolf of Airbnb” nickname “means someone who is hungry and ruthless enough to get on top of the financial ladder.”

He’s in danger of becoming the “Wolf of a Prison Cell,” though, as Bicher’s charges could carry a prison sentence of up to 42 years if he’s convicted. Bicher says he intends to plead not guilty.

David Goldsmith

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Staff member
Airbnb launches platform allowing renters to host apartments, partnering with major landlords

The company said a new page on its site will list so-called Airbnb-friendly buildings that let tenants host their apartments just as homeowners do.
Typically, rental buildings prohibit tenants from subletting for short stays.
To start, Airbnb is showcasing 175 apartment buildings in more than 25 major markets.

Airbnb is partnering with several major landlords and management companies to list designated apartment buildings where renters are allowed to offer short-term sublets on the site.

The company said Wednesday that a new page on its website will list so-called Airbnb-friendly buildings, which will give tenants the option to host their apartments just as homeowners can.

Typically, rental buildings prohibit tenants from subletting for short stays.

To start, Airbnb is showcasing 175 apartment buildings in more than 25 major markets, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Denver, Seattle and Phoenix. Some cities, such as New York City and Washington, D.C., are not available due to local restrictions on short-term rentals.

The platform will help tenants host their rentals, and help the buildings attract tenants who may want to host. How much tenants could earn will vary.

"It depends on the building, depends on the location, there are a lot of different assumptions," Nathan Blecharczyk, co-founder of Airbnb.

Given how much apartment rents have climbed over the past few years, along with home prices and other rising prices, tenants are increasingly looking for ways to supplement their incomes to make their monthly payments. Rents are starting to ease, but are still up 10% from a year ago, according to Apartment List.

Last year, rents rose more than 15% from the year before.

The new page on Airbnb's website will also offer a calculator to show how much money the tenant can potentially make per month. The calculation changes depending on the number of bedrooms and the number of nights each building allows, as well as the potential asking rents, given the building's amenities.

Apartment buildings can also charge the primary tenant a fee of up to 20% of the price of each Airbnb use. For those buildings that have been in test mode so far, Airbnb said tenants have hosted an average of nine nights per month with an average income of $900 per month.

All hosts in the participating buildings must be the primary resident, and the buildings can restrict how many nights per month the apartment can be sublet. That's generally between 80 and 120 nights per year. The restrictions, which can be enforced since the transactions all take place on the portal, are intended to prevent investors from taking part and subletting the apartments full-time.

The apartment building owner or management company also have the right to review the listings before they go live and deactivate a listing if it does not comply with the building's standards. They can also mandate a government ID from all potential subletters.

Equity Residential and UDR, which are apartment real estate investment trusts, or REITs, and Greystar, the largest apartment management company in the U.S., are among the major names offering apartments with hosting privileges on the new Airbnb platform.

"We believe this platform will provide the right tools for both owners and residents to effectively manage short-term rental activity without impacting overall housing supply," a Greystar representative said. "We are collaborating with Airbnb on this innovative approach to participate in the 21st century sharing economy in a thoughtful way."

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
If you still think AirBnb and other short term rental platforms don't have a great impact on the stock of long term rentals available for the actual residents of cities then check this out:
NYC Has More Airbnb Listings Than Long-Term Rental Units

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

A manager of 95 Phoenix Airbnbs is stunned that half his homes are empty over Super Bowl weekend. Is it the latest Airbnbust?​

Dan Latu

A home located in Phoenix, Arizona.

A home in Phoenix, Arizona. Getty Images
  • Phoenix Airbnb hosts were expecting to be fully booked over Super Bowl weekend.
  • A manager of 95 properties said he's half-booked and has cut one nightly price to $500 from $1,200.
  • Some US spots are experiencing a glut of short-term rentals that can hurt hosts' booking calendars.

It should've been the busiest weekend in years for Phoenix's Airbnb hosts.
But short-term-rental owners are scrambling to fill empty units with out-of-town revelers ahead of Sunday's Super Bowl matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Months ago, Ric Kenworthy, who manages 95 properties in the Phoenix area through his company Old Town Rental, anticipated they'd all be rented out ahead of the big game. Now, two days before kickoff, occupancy sits at just 45%.
For a prime three-bedroom, two-bathroom home that Kenworthy manages in Scottsdale, a suburb of Phoenix that prepped for a wave of Super Bowl visitors, Kenworthy initially thought he could fetch $1,200 a night with a five-night minimum. He's cut the rate to $500 a night with a two-night minimum — and it's still not booked.

"It's mind-boggling at this point," Kenworthy told Insider.
The Super Bowl letdown comes as hosts in some areas complain that bookings have slowed, Twitter users chatter about an "Airbnbust," and market data suggests the increasing number of Airbnbs in the US has outpaced increases in traveler demand. Some hosts are responding by switching to medium- or long-term rentals or prioritizing direct bookings. The analytics site AirDNA has predicted that revenue will drop slightly for hosts across the country in 2023 compared with previous years.
According to AirDNA, as of Thursday only 52% of available Phoenix rentals were booked. The site found that two recent Super Bowl host cities, Los Angeles and Miami, had over 80% of their available short-term rentals booked for their game weekends. A New York Times headline described Phoenix's Super Bowl short-term-rental market as a "fumble."
It's a signal not of a lack of travelers but of oversupply. Thousands of people are expected to descend on Phoenix ahead of the Super Bowl, but visitors have more rentals to choose from than ever before. AirDNA found that from February 2017 to January 2023, Airbnb and VRBO listings in Phoenix more than quadrupled, growing to 21,000 from 5,000. A request for comment from Airbnb was not immediately returned on Friday.

The Super Bowl is being held on Sunday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, near Phoenix. Christian Petersen/Getty Images
There are even signs of a recent surge in listings in response to the Super Bowl hype.
Kenworthy said an Airbnb representative told him that over 2,200 new listings came online in the past two months, which Kenworthy speculated stemmed mostly from locals who don't typically rent their spaces but were looking to "ride the wave" of the weekend.
Brian Harvey, a director at Rate Simple Mortgage who lends to and mentors short-term-rental investors in Phoenix, said his clients had faced similar bookings slowdowns.
One of them, he said, has a three-bedroom, two-bathroom unit close to much of the weekend's festivities. Guests initially booked it for $925 a night, but they canceled this week, saying they'd found a cheaper deal nearby. Now the house costs just $300 a night, and it's still available.

An Airbnb spokesman told the Arizona Republic that the last time Phoenix hosted the Super Bowl, in 2015, Airbnb hosts in the area collectively earned more than $1.1 million over that weekend. Harvey said many locals were eager to get in on the action this time.
In November, Harvey said, one of his clients bought a 1,600-square-foot three-bedroom home about 10 miles from the stadium for $388,000. The client had anticipated he'd be renting it out for $1,000 a night, but it's sitting empty this weekend.
While Phoenix will continue to be a popular vacation spot, Harvey predicted that the Super Bowl disappointment would motivate some owners to sell their short-term-rental properties.
"We'll see some of these people exit," he told Insider. "I'm sure of it."
Axel Springer, Insider Inc.'s parent company, is an investor in Airbnb.

David Goldsmith

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Staff member
People looking to rent their apartments on Airbnb may soon get fined if they do it illegally.

That's if landlords register their buildings on a city “prohibited buildings” list that launched March 6. The landlord can avoid the city fine, and their renters would get dinged.

What You Need To Know

  • Almost 1,500 landlords have applied for the prohibited buildings list where the city will deny short-term rental applications from prospective hosts
  • Meanwhile, only 52 prospective hosts have applied to legally register to list their unit
  • As many as 12,000 short-term rentals recently and frequently booked on Airbnb may be illegal, according to the city

Almost 1,500 landlords have applied for the prohibited buildings list. Meanwhile, only 52 prospective hosts have applied to legally register to list their unit.

As many as 12,000 short-term rentals recently and frequently booked on Airbnb may be illegal, according to the city, because a person can't rent out a whole unit for less than 30 days, and they must be at the unit for the person's stay.

As short-term rentals have grown in popularity, housing advocates have criticized the loss of these units from the long-term housing market, reducing inventory, thereby increasing rental prices.

“There is a ton of compliance that the property owner needs to meet, but not so much the tenant,” property manager Aaron Weber said.

Weber said he’s pleased City Council passed Local Law 18, which requires short-term renters to register with the city. The prohibited buildings list enabled the city to deny applications from prospective hosts where the landlord does not allow it.

“For management, it makes our lives much easier. And we know it’s more organized,” Weber said.

The list also passes along fines to tenants who are illegally hosting guests. Existing law said short-term rental hosts can have no more than two people staying inside their units. And hosts must be in the home for the duration of the stay.

“I believe in your home, you should do as you please,” Airbnb host Mareu Rabinovitch said.

Rabinovitch legally rented out two rooms in her Upper West Side apartment. But she has concerns about getting fined by the city if she leaves her apartment for any amount of time.

"I should be able to go out to dinner and not be here," Rabinovitch said. Rabinovitch is also worried about her privacy in having to register with the city.

The city counters that the information provided like name, phone number and proof of permanent occupancy are no more than a person would use for any other government service.

Rabinovitch, though, said she may stop renting out her rooms.

"I don’t think my two rooms are going to solve the housing crisis," Rabinovitch said.

“I think this law will wipe out a lot of people who will think twice about the fine for doing it,” real estate lawyer Adam Lindenbaum added.

Lindenbaum said most of his clients are landlords who don’t want their tenants posting apartments for short-term rentals, and he believes the new law will solve that dispute and help put more rentals back into the long-term marketplace.

"This is that rare situation where I think permanent rent-stabilized tenants who want to make their life here in the city and landlords are somewhat aligned, because everyone wants permanent tenants in rent-stabilized housing," Lindenbaum said.

The city will start issuing fines to people who violate the registration law in July.

To apply to either register to become a host or to have a building put on the prohibited buildings list, click here.