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Airbnbs outnumber New York City apartments in hot housing market

Apartments were illegally offered through Airbnb at 385 Greenwich St., in TriBeCa, city officials said, on Jan. 28, 2019.NYT

The number of short-term rentals in New York City is outpacing the number of available apartments, putting a pinch on renters who are looking for space in a hot housing market.

The total number of active short-term rentals in the city’s five boroughs -- those listed on Airbnb and Expedia Group’s Vrbo -- has reached more than 22,000, according to third-party data tracker AirDNA. Meanwhile, rental inventory in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and a portion of Queens hovers just over 7,500, according to an April report from broker Douglas Elliman Real Estate. AirDNA defines active listings as those with one reserved or available day in the last month.

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Manhattan’s housing market is getting hotter by the month, with the median rent in April surging to $3,870 for new leases signed last month. There were 4,709 apartments to rent last month, down from 20,743 a year earlier, meaning landlords have the upper hand in negotiating with tenants looking for housing in the borough. The vacancy rate in Manhattan sat at just over 1.5 percent last month, the second-lowest level on record, according to appraiser Miller Samuel.

Critics say that Airbnb’s business model makes homes unaffordable in large cities that are attractive for tourists. Airbnb specializes in urban markets, while its competitor Vrbo focuses more on whole vacation homes. New York has tightened some restrictions on short-term rentals, requiring platforms like Airbnb to share hosting and listing data with the city if they want to rent out their home for fewer than 30 days. New York also requires that a host be present in the home if it’s rented out for fewer than 30 days.

Airbnb said the reality is different than the numbers suggest.

“As presented, 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 said in a statement, adding that the company’s listing supply has decreased in the last two years. Most of Airbnb’s listings are concentrated in Manhattan.

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New York real estate publication Curbed reported the data earlier.