Your family members’ schedules finally all line up, and you can plan a week-long vacation together. You are hoping to find a place where you can all be together – not in separate hotel rooms that will probably end up on different floors. So, you start searching on a website like Airbnb or VRBO, where you hope to find a condo or house that will fit your entire family for the week.
This method of finding a short-term rental (STR) has only been common for about a decade. Such non-hotel vacation rentals have been available since the 1950s (mostly through newspaper advertisements), but they really took off with the growth of online reservation platforms.
An STR allocates a house or condo for vacation renters who stay less than 30 days, often for a week or just a weekend. This removes a housing unit from the local housing stock available to people who work and want to live in the local area, not just visit on vacation.
The simplicity of using the new online services inspired more property owners to try out their entrepreneurial skills, especially in vacation destinations like Carpinteria. Some occasionally rented out a spare room, while others rented out their entire house while they were traveling. Some ended up jumping in with both feet and buying one or more condos or houses and setting them up as full-time STRs.
This part of the new “sharing economy” has provided business opportunities for some property owners as well as reservation services (including Airbnb and VRBO), property management companies, cleaning services and other support businesses. But it has also introduced wide-ranging impacts to neighborhoods and entire communities.
Complaints about STRs are common from nearby neighbors concerning noise, parking, trash, crime, and neighborhood peace. Unfortunately, some short-term renters have, well, short-timer’s attitude: “I’ll be gone in a couple days, so I don’t care what the neighbors think.”
But even more far-reaching are the less obvious impacts to the entire community. When a housing unit is converted to a short-term rental for visitors, it is lost as a residence for people who want to live in the community and would either rent or buy that unit. Each STR unit, therefore, reduces the available housing supply, mostly the smallest units that would have the most affordable long-term rental rates.
But it gets even worse. Even as the supply of available housing decreases, the same number of people still want to live here, so some are left unable to find a place to live. Meanwhile, investors who want to create new STRs add to the number of people looking for properties. The result of decreasing supply and increasing demand is that prices are bid up. People find themselves hardly able to find someplace available to …….