REPORT: Airbnb price gouging for Boston area college graduations

Boston Airbnb hosts increase prices by as much as $1,015 per night Airbnb sent email to hosts to raise rates, suggested renting out an air mattress for $400

 

We recently released a report showing significant price gouging by Boston Airbnb hosts, most of whom are commercial operators running multiple listings, for rentals during local college graduations.

Click here to download a copy of the report.

The report reveals rates for many Airbnb rentals increasing by thousands of dollars per night during graduation weekend.  These are similar to findings in previously released reports during the Boston Marathon last month.  Now, during graduation weekend, an apartment in downtown Boston, which is normally rented for $309 per night, was being advertised for $1,284 per night for the weekend.  A typical three-night stay at that apartment would cost a total of $927, but the same length of stay during graduation weekend would cost more than $3,852.

 

The worst price gouger was a commercial Airbnb operator, Sonder.com, who has more than 40 short-term rental units in Boston and increased nightly rental rates by as much as 899 percent during the May 19-21 weekend, which includes college graduations for Boston College, Boston University, Tufts, Suffolk University and Simmons College.

 

“Airbnb’s price gouging was a dream killer for many families coming to see their family members run the Boston Marathon.  Airbnb is continuing that practice with folks looking to enjoy this special time with their loved ones as they graduate college,” stated Lauren Windsor, AirbnbWATCH’s spokesperson.  “Permitting their ‘hosts’ – who many times are commercial operators as opposed to true home sharers – to raise rent by these astronomical rates is a very worrisome precedent that Airbnb is setting at these widely attended events.”

 

In a San Diego Union-Tribune article, Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s Head of Global Policy and Public Affairs said, “It’s pretty clear that our hosts don’t engage in gouging.  When demand for Airbnb increases, supply also tends to increase.  When you look at big events, like for a Super Bowl weekend, there’s maybe a $20 increase.”

 

Windsor points to a recent email sent out to all of AIRBNB’s Boston hosts touting their ability to “earn up to $1,700/week during Boston graduation season.”  In the same email, Airbnb suggests hosts could charge $400 a week to let someone sleep on an air mattress or couch in their home.

 

“In what world is that not AIRBNB’s explicit approval for their hosts to price gouge unsuspecting families and friends coming to Boston to celebrate the graduation of a family member or friend?” asked Windsor.  “Friends and families were expecting to have a great weekend celebrating their new college graduates, they were certainly not expecting to be paying such high prices for lodging.  Commercial Airbnb hosts will be pushing graduation attendees’ wallets to the limits, while driving thousands of complete strangers into the streets of Boston neighborhoods.” 

Graduation for local Boston area colleges and universities, including Boston College, Boston University, Tufts, Suffolk University and Simmons College, is scheduled for the weekend of May 19-21 this year.

  

Airbnb’s in Boston Off event Rate/night Boston Area College Graduations

May 19-21 Rate/night

$ Rate Increase Percent Increase Hosted by
3 BR|2.5 BA Renovated House Parking Top Location $200 $1,015 $815 408% John**
Charming 4BR in Downtown Crossing by Sonder $309 $1,284 $975 316% Sonder**
Delightful 2BR in Downtown Crossing by Sonder $79 $689 $610 772% Sonder**
Handsome 2BR in Seaport by Sonder $69 $689 $620 899% Sonder**
Bi-Level 2BR in Downtown Crossing by Sonder $139 $759 $620 446% Sonder**
Chic 2BR in Seaport by Sonder $69 $689 $620 899% Sonder**
Boston Commons Condos 2BD 2 $553 $1,099 $546 98% Nadia**
Elegant & Cozy Boston Fenway 2-BR Apt!!! $457 $1,098 $641 140% Bluebird Suites**
Bluebird Lavish 2-BR Boston Apt + 24 HR Doorman $457 $1,098 $641 140% Bluebird Suites**
Renovated Gorgeous Luxury 2 BR, Private Patio $199 $465 $266 134% Lara**
Lux Studio Apt w/rooftop deck, gym, WiFi $229 $339 $110 48% Mike**
Boston Studio Across from Majestic Theater $128 $304 $176 138% Voyage**
Beautiful Studio and Great Location $149 $249 $100 67% Isa**
*All rates and unit availabilities subject to change per host preference

**Denotes commercial operator with multiple other listings including:

Host John (3 listings), Host Sonder (100 listings), Host Nadia (100 listings), Host Bluebird Suites (100 listings), Host Lara (5 listings), Host Mike (100 listings), Host Voyage Management LLC (20 listings), Host Isa (12 listings)

 

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AirbnbWATCH is a project of American Family Voices, bringing together a coalition of organizations and concerned citizens dedicated to a common goal: protecting communities and travelers by exposing commercial hosts who use sites like Airbnb to run illegal hotels in residential properties under the radar and by making sure all hotel businesses play by the same rules.