Lisbon’s ‘Renda Segura’ program could be problematic for Airbnb if successful
Following the recent announcement from Lisbon’s Mayor pledging to ‘get rid of Airbnb’ once the coronavirus pandemic is over by turning short-term rentals in to affordable housing, industry experts said that program could be really problematic for Airbnb if successful.
Airbnb’s unique business model, which once offered the company rapid growth and adaptability, could now hinder its recovery process in the medium-to-long term because of the negative opinions formed by its meteoric rise in popularity within major European cities, and the impacts this growth creates in local communities.
Airbnb causes locals to be priced out of central areas. Plus, a high growth in Airbnb properties often coincides with overtourism, which may have an impact on neighborhoods losing their cultural ties. Unsurprisingly, some of these reasons were noted by Fernando Medina when he outlined the new ‘Renda Segura’ program.
The worry for Airbnb is that other cities that have not yet configured a strategy to combat the growth of short-term rentals will be keeping a close eye on this initiative and may indeed replicate. In fact, landlords could prefer renting out their properties in this way as the program attracts long-term tenants, offering a more reliable and consistent stream of revenue.
Although landlords would be able to charge two or even three times more for international tourists per day, the immediate impact of COVID-19 means that city center bookings for short-term rentals across Europe will undertake a gradual recovery, which may not provide enough revenue for hosts in the short-term.
Airbnb could be more forceful in arguing the positive economic impact that it regularly states it provides for families that rely on renting their rooms out to pay the bills. However, this argument may fall on deaf ears. It is not this kind of host that local governments have an issue with. The rise of ‘buying to short-term let’ with absentee landlords is the key issue that is now being clamped down on.