Coalition of Concerned Citizens Urge D.C. City Council to Pass Legislation to Regulate Short-Term Rentals 

Diverse Group of Community Leaders Call on D.C. City Council to Better Protect Neighborhoods and Put #NeighborsFirst

On Tuesday, January 23, AirbnbWATCH was joined by a diverse coalition of community leaders to host a press event at the National Press Club. This event encourage members of the D.C. City Council to take up and pass legislation to better regulate commercial Airbnb operators in the nation’s capital, the Short-term Rental Regulation and Affordable Housing Protection Act.

Short-term rentals are infiltrating neighborhoods and exploiting loopholes in cities across the country, including in the District of Columbia. Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms enable commercial operators to rent out multiple properties, year-round, just the same as hotels and motels, without abiding by common-sense safety, security and residential zoning requirements that all other lodging businesses must observe.

Several community leaders spoke out at the press conference on the need to regulate short-term rentals in Washington, D.C. Below are excerpts from their remarks today at the event:

  • Airbnb hosts “cheat law-abiding, tax-paying D.C. residents and fracture our neighborhoods by replacing our neighbors with an endless revolving door of strangers otherwise known as ‘guests.’ These illegal commercial hotel operations are driving up our rental prices and lowering the availability of affordable housing for hardworking tax payers that work and live in D.C.”  Graylin Presbury, D.C. Federation of Civic Association
  • “With a revolving door of strangers coming and going from short-term rentals properties, tools like sex offender lists are becoming obsolete as there is no safeguard in place to stop a child predator from renting an Airbnb property next door.” Stacie Rumenap, Stop Child Predators 
  • “An extremely troubling study by Rutgers University found that Airbnb hosts were far more likely to turn away guests with disabilities in favor of guests without disabilities. This makes the rise of commercial Airbnb operators in Washington all the more troublesome.” Rebecca “Becky” Ogle, Disability Power & Pride
  • “As a single mother living in D.C., being able to provide for and protect my family is my main concern.  It’s disheartening to see my community teeming with commercial operators running illegal hotels out of residential homes and apartments. Every day, I see more and more strangers coming in and out of what used to be residential units, that were formerly occupied by friendly and familiar faces.” Yukia Hugee, The New Communities Initiative
  • “While our city grapples with finding fair and equitable affordable housing options for hardworking D.C. residents, commercial Airbnb hosts, funded by big corporations, are unfairly buying entire apartment complexes and renting them through Airbnb as if they are hotel suites. This is a causing already high rent prices to increase, and making a hard financial and personal situation for those already struggling even harder.” Rev. Dr. Unnia Pettus, Founder and CEO, Nobody But God

True home sharing, where the owner is present during the guest’s stay, accounts for only 23 percent of Airbnb’s business in Washington, according to a recent study. Seventy-seven percent of Airbnb’s revenue in the District – $81 million out of a total of $105 million – comes from whole-unit rentals where the owner is not present. Furthermore, 29 percent of Airbnb’s total revenue in the nation’s capital is generated by multi-unit operators who rent out two or more entire home units. Among those multi-unit hosts, 24 percent of revenue in Washington is derived from hosts who operate 20-plus entire units.

“The time is now for D.C. City Council to better protect residents from the dangers brought to their communities by commercial Airbnb operators,” said AirbnbWATCH spokesman Lauren Windsor. “Not only do commercial Airbnb operators make neighborhoods less safe by bringing a revolving door of strangers and transients into local communities, they also drive up the price of rent and deplete permanent housing options, making it more difficult for residents to find affordable housing in the District.”