San Diego

Report Slams Airbnb's ‘Illegal Hotels' in Major U.S. Cities, Including San Diego

 A newly released independent report examining Airbnb rental trends is slamming hosts in select major U.S. cities, including San Diego, for running "illegal hotels" and making hundreds of thousands of dollars on the side. 

The independent report by Dr. John O’Neil, professor and director of the Center for Hospitality Real Estate Strategy at Penn State University, looks at AirBnB activity in 12 major U.S. cities, including San Diego. On Wednesday, the report was released by The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA). Airbnb is a website where people can list, find and rent short-term vacation spots. 

"Airbnb suggests that its hosts are largely using the platform to make some additional money on the side. It states that 'a typical listing earns $5,110 a year, and is typically shared less than four nights per month," the report says.

However, it goes on to slam an “alarming trend with respect to two overlapping hosts” and multiple unit operators who are renting out two or more units, and full-time operators renting out their unit(s) for 360 days or more a year.

An Airbnb spokeswoman told NBC 7 San Diego the information in the report is false and that “this study shows that the hotel industry gets what it pays for, which in this case is a specious study intended to mislead and manipulate.”

Some residents in San Diego's Pacific Beach, a popular destination for vacation rentals, have become fed up with short-term vacation rentals like the ones Airbnb offers.

“The controversy basically is whether it's appropriate to have mini motels spring up in what were otherwise normal residential communities,” said Phil Rath with Preserve Our Communities. “And that's really expanding for a lot of reasons and causing a lot of problems for people who live in those neighborhoods and have lived there for a long time.”

More and more people who own homes in single-family neighborhoods rent out rooms and houses for just days at a time through sites like Airbnb, Rath said. 

“People who happen to live next door to a house that's been converted into a mini motel have to live with these damages and have no recourse whatsoever to make it stop,” Rath said.

The report found that multi-unit operators who rent out their units for more than 360 days a year make up one large part of the generated revenue from the site. Hosts who rent it out for smaller periods of time, like 180 days or more, generate the second chunk of major revenue, according to the report's findings. 

“The neighborhoods in this area, a lot of the people do not want vacation rentals in the area,” said Pacific Beach resident Shelley Doty. “As a homeowner I can see their point. As a vacationer who uses these types of rentals, I love them.”

Doty said she has used a similar vacation rental site in her travels abroad, but as a homeowner in Pacific Beach, she is hesitant.

“It is actually a little frightening because you don't know are they supposed to be there,” Dot said. “Are they going to be breaking into the house? Are they going to be partying every night or just a normal vacation?”

Rath is one of many working on a future city ordinance proposal that would put restrictions on owners of vacation rentals.

“The rules really haven't caught up with the reality of what's happening in our neighborhoods,” Rath said.

In addition to San Diego, the report also looked at New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. 

Contact Us