Study Finds that Airbnb Promotes Social Inequality Skip to content
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Photo: Golli.

Study Finds that Airbnb Promotes Social Inequality

Over 60% of registered Airbnb owners in the capital area are renting properties in downtown Reykjavík or adjoining neighbourhoods. Kjarninn reports that  Airbnb properties are concentrated on six downtown streets: Laugavegur, Hverfisgata, Grettisgata, Berþórugata, Óðinsgata and Bjarnarstígur. Up to 70% of the properties on several of these streets are registered as Airbnbs.

These findings were published on Friday in a study which examines the impact of Airbnb on the housing market in the capital area. The study, a research project that Anne-Cécile Mermet, a lecturer at Sorbonne University in France carried out, in partnership with the Icelandic Tourism Board, the City of Reykjavik and the Housing Fund, found that of registered Airbnb owners in the capital area, 80% were located in Reykjavík. Of these, 37% rent out properties in the 101 postcode (Reykjavík city centre), 17% in 105 Reykjavík, and 7% in 107 Reykjavík.

As of April 2019, there were 2,567 property owners in Reykjavík registered on Airbnb, 58% of whom are operating without a legal license. The number of capital-area homeowners with registered properties on Airbnb has dramatically increased in recent years. In January 2016, there were 2,032 owners registered on the website. By January 2018, the number had almost doubled to 4,154.

The study showed that homeowners who rent out their properties on Airbnb are not a homogeneous group of people with a homogeneous set of goals and/or business practices. Therefore, the consequences of these individuals renting their properties vary. While in some cases, Airbnb has led to property ownership being shifted to investors and business entities, in others, it has helped individuals be able to afford to remain in their homes or make ends meet.

One of the primary findings of the study was that Airbnb and short-term rentals have helped promote social inequality in the capital area. Namely, the website helps individuals who already own assets secure their foothold on the housing market. Further consequences are, of course, a reduced supply of rental properties on the market and higher prices.

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