Airbnb and its Commercial Landlords Threaten D.C. Communities

Short-term rentals around the country are being allowed to run rampant without clear rules to follow, destroying neighborhoods and threatening the safety of residents. New research has revealed the extensive role Airbnb short-term rentals play in Washington, D.C., and the many ways their growing presence puts neighborhoods at risk.

Homes around the country are being taken off the market by big-money commercial operators, driving up rent, and transforming the communities that residents have come to love. Now, this is all happening in our nation’s capital.

Between the rapid growth in the number of rental units and the alarming percentage commercial landlords, the new facts from the D.C. Policy Center show a clear need for action!


Washington has more short-term rental units per capita than most U.S. cities:

Out of all U.S. cities, Washington, D.C. ranked second in active Airbnb house or apartment rentals per housing unit. As of May 2017, there were 7,788 D.C. units available for rent in Washington, a 68 percent increase in active listings over the previous year.

With each new unit, D.C. neighborhoods become less about community and more about hosting transient strangers. Parents have no way of knowing who rents the unit next door. These are the neighborhoods where our kids play, but now lifelong residents are being evicted by commercial landlords, in order to convert residences into short-term rentals.


Big-money, commercial landlords have a growing grasp on D.C. communities:

Airbnb was meant to allow homeowners to make extra cash by renting out their spare room… but the data shows that this is far from true in D.C. In fact, properties owned by commercial landlords account for 30 percent of all listings, with 197 hosts in the city offering anywhere between three and six separate properties. The largest active portfolio of belongs to “Lara and Alex,” who rent out a staggering 36 units in Washington. 

These commercial landlords pose serious threats to D.C. communities. Usually, their listings have longer minimum stay requirements, and are concentrated in high-rent and high-demand neighborhoods, making D.C.’s already devastating affordable housing crisis worse.

It is clear that D.C. is reaching a critical point in how it deals with short-term rentals. Despite the number of units and commercial operators steadily increasing, lawmakers have yet to pass any updates to its short-term rental laws.

In order to protect residents and preserve the communities they call home, city council members need to set clear rules for hosts that promote safety, accountability and fairness for short-term rental hosts, ensuring that commercial listings can do no more harm to our capital city!