For people looking to live like a local or rent out an entire home in Beverly Hills, there are few options on par with what short-term rental sites like Airbnb offer.
However, while visitors may love spending a night or two in a residential neighborhood, sometimes paying significantly less than the cost of a hotel room, neighbors aren’t always so keen to have a revolving door of visitors with no vested stake in the City coming and going.
Throughout the country, and even internationally, cities are cracking down on short-term rentals with new rules and restrictions. Beverly Hills Marketing & Economic Sustainability Manager Laura Biery told the Courier she plans to share a comprehensive report in Q1 2020 as a preliminary step for the City to take action similar to what Santa Monica accomplished. Malibu, West Hollywood and Los Angeles have all passed ordinances tightening restrictions on how short-term rentals can operate and Biery said she is looking at all of them, and others, in order to craft her report.
“Hotels would like to see an ordinance with more stringent parameters. A good example is what is being done in Santa Monica, where the owner has to be present during the rental,” said Beverly Hills Conference and Visitors Bureau (BHCVB) CEO Julie Wagner. “I think short term rentals are extremely disruptive to the hotel industry, and of course, one of the biggest attractions in our city is our iconic hotels.”
While Airbnb, which was founded in 2008, may be the biggest name around town, it is certainly not the only one. Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO), OneFineStay, booking.com, and even the TripAdvisor- owned FlipKey are among the most popular players in the market when it comes to renting a room or home via the World Wide Web.
A recent report via AirDNA, which tracks short-term rentals, for 90212 showed hundreds of local rentals, with an average daily rate $663 – an amount which Wagner said is keeping in line with local hotel price averages.
“What people give up when they choose a short term rental is certainty,” Wagner described. “When you go to a hotel, you know it’s going to be secure and that your every need will be anticipated. It’s a true getaway.”
In addition to removing needed housing stock from the long-term rental market, the preponderance of short-term rentals is also having a direct impact on local hotels.
“I do think that one of the biggest threats to the hotel industry in Beverly Hills, to all hotels, is the expansion and the trend of Airbnb, vacations.com, (and other) luxury home rentals. The ability for people to just be able to rent homes for any amount of time and moving their business away from luxury hotels is a real concern, and we have to do something about it,” said Peninsula General Manager Offer Nissenbaum, who served as the president of the Board of the BHCVB for FY 2018/19 where he actively sought to address the issue by educating the City about the threats of short-term rentals. “As we move forward, it’s now a bigger and bigger issue that has to be addressed.” While the specific amount of money that the City of Beverly Hills is losing out on due to short-term rental websites is indeterminate, Wagner estimated the tax loss to be in the millions. For the previous fiscal year, 2018/19, the City collected just north of $100,000 in Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) from short-term rentals. By comparison, TOT collected from hotels for FY 2018/19 was $50 million.
“There’s a lot of collaboration going on about what can we do,” Biery said. “We want to find something that’s successful for hotels and residents.”
Santa Monica’s current regulations governing short-term rentals are among the strictest in the nation. In addition to prohibiting rentals of whole homes to travelers for less than 30 days Beverly Hills now allows two “short-term” rentals of up to six months per year in single family housing zones hosts can only rent rooms to tourists and must be present throughout the stay.
Earlier this year Airbnb and Expedia Group’s HomeAway lost their case in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to the City of Santa Monica with the court upholding the ruling that short-term rental companies are liable for illicit rentals on their sites. Short-term rental websites typically put the onus on the property owners using the site to observe the rules that govern the specific cities.
“Just as we’ve done with dozens of cities across Southern California, we stand ready to work with city leaders and community members on fair, balanced regulations that preserve the benefits of short-term rentals and protect quality of life for Beverly Hills residents,” Airbnb spokesperson Mattie Zazueta told the Courier.