RentalsTechnology

Share Better coalition video ad hits Airbnb — and real estate big shots — where it hurts

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The Share Better Coalition, a nationwide group of elected officials and activists working against sharing platforms like Airbnb, recently released a campaign touting the benefits of the short-term rental sites … for real estate moguls.

The parody video, which is one among many that the organization released July 6, is filmed in UNICEF-style, begging the viewer to help out the “clearly suffering” Wall Street millionaire.

The 60-second ad features three wealthy landlords in front of luxury items like a Porsche convertible and a Gulfstream private jet and with diamonds in hand. The ad says that nearly half of the revenue from the site goes to “real estate moguls,” a figure taken from the New York State Office of the Attorney General’s “Airbnb in the City” report from October 2014.

“Not only does Airbnb have a large number of illegal users but 40 percent of the site’s total revenue comes from commercial users. Those are people who don’t actually live in the places they are renting,” Austin Shafran, a representative of the Share Better coalition, said.

“That certainly flies in the face of Airbnb’s claims of helping regular folks make a few dollars to rent out their homes. Airbnb is branding itself on a stack of lies.”

The report found that commercial users, or hosts running a large-scale operation, accounted for 6 percent of the hosts on Airbnb but raked in $168 million from more than 177,000 reservations.

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So although there are only 1,406 hosts, compared with the 24,057 everyday hosts, commercial users are reported to be running anywhere from three to 272 unique units.

The report does also state, however, that following the investigation lead by the NYAG, Airbnb publicly cited that it had barred some large commercial hosts from accepting any additional reservations from the website.

According to Shafran, a member of the Share Better Coalition, the video ad was created in response to an ad that Airbnb released, which defends the tenants who choose to rent their homes to travelers. The Airbnb ad represented these individuals as people who are using the money generated from Airbnb to help pay for rising rents and expensive bills.

“It’s clear from various studies and law enforcement investigations that they are not helping struggling people,” Shafran said.

“They are making commercial real estate giants richer at the expense of everyday residents and taking affordable housing units off the market. We’re peeling back the facade of the altruistic brand that they’ve spent tens of millions of dollars pushing out the door.”

Shafran said that following the law is the most important component in the argument. Getting everyone to play on the same field fairly could help to keep Airbnb afloat and keep increasing housing prices at bay, he said.

Email Kimberly Manning.


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