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Housing Crisis Encapsulated: Short-Term Rental Listings Nearly Triple Available Apartments In NYC

New York City apartments

Apartments being rented out for short-term stays are far more prevalent in New York City than those being offered as places to live.

NYC has as many as 20,000 residential units available for short-term rentals on sites like Airbnb and Vrbo, Curbed reports. But finding housing remains a struggle for many: The number of residential apartments on the market was just shy of 8,000 last month.

Two sites tracking short-term listings found far higher numbers of rentals available for short stays in the city than for residential units. AirDNA, a third-party site, found more than 10,500 entire-apartment and entire-home Airbnb listings available. But that number could be as high as almost 20,400, according to Inside Airbnb, which scrapes listings data from the rental site.

“The data provides an unfairly narrow look at rental unit availability in a portion of the city versus scraped short-term rental data for the entire city,” an Airbnb spokesperson told Crain’s New York Business.

Short-term rentals’ impact on available housing stock is well-documented. Airbnb has garnered a reputation for accelerating gentrification and worsening housing crises in cities all over the world, as landlords seek higher profits via short-term rentals in place of long-term leases. 

NYC has recently sought to curb the short-term rental market’s impact on its housing stock. Late last year, the city council passed measures for rentals shorter than 30 days, requiring Airbnb and similar sites to share listing data and host information with the city, as well as for a host to be present in the property. NYC remains one of Airbnb’s biggest U.S. markets, The New York Times reported.

Those measures don't appear to have met the crucial moment in NYC’s housing market, which is facing a shortage of apartment units and rocketing rents.

Residential vacancies in NYC have increased, according to the 2021 Housing and Vacancy Survey released earlier this week, The City reported. Just 3.63% of apartments were vacant in 2017 versus 4.54% in 2021. The HVS designates anything under 5% as a housing crisis, and the market has only gotten tighter in the months since the survey was taken.

Rents are soaring, and lower-cost apartments are increasingly hard to come by. Between the 2017 and 2021 surveys, NYC lost 96,000 apartments with rents under $1,500 per month but added to the number of apartments with a monthly rent of $2,300 or higher. A third of all households were severely rent-burdened, paying more than 50% of their income toward rent.

Vacancy rates for apartments in the bracket of $2,300 and up are 12%, according to the survey. Manhattan had a 10% vacancy rate, compared to the Bronx’s 0.78%.

Average monthly rent in Manhattan was nearly $4K in April, according to appraisal firm Miller Samuel, while rents in Brooklyn and Queens were roughly $3K per month.