With continuing pressure on the national housing market, concerns are being raised that some communities are being ‘hollowed out’ by short term rents. Airbnb is a key digital platform currently enabling this trend.
But to what extent is this true?
Not withstanding the wider debate around how sort term rents may have an effect on communities, we can also look to quantify this impact. The Data for Airbnb’s listings are publicly available on its website. They have been collated for some cities by an organisation called Inside Airbnb, and used within several published analyses. Using a simple spatial analysis we can examine where these neighbours of interest may be in London.
We have estimated the proportion of local households in August 2018 listed as an ‘entire apartment’ available for rent on Airbnb. We’ve used census 2011 output areas (containing around 130 households) as well as the Airbnb property locations. Like most spatial analysis we must consider any error margins. Airbnb’s locations are anonymised and properties are ‘scattered’ within about 150 metres of the actual address. Some locations will fall in its neighbouring census area. But the results give us useful estimates when looking at London-wide general patterns.
Not surprisingly the biggest likely demand, and therefore existence of Airbnb lets are in the central tourist areas. Most of the outer boroughs of London have an estimated 1% or less of Airbnb lets in any local area. But some central areas have an estimated 20% of housing listed as places to rent on Airbnb. Whether this level is enough of a tipping point to impact significantly on communities would require further research, but spatial analysis can reveal the relevant areas of interest.