Amid record rent hikes and a generally out-of-control real estate market, officials in the Southwest are employing a new strategy to increase housing options: giving Airbnb hosts a monetary lure to drop the platform and sign leases with locals instead.
The city of Sedona, Arizona, is joining a small group of other United States communities attempting to stop the scourge of rentals in use as short-term housing by offering cash to proprietors.
“Every day I get calls from folks losing their housing because their landlord is turning their housing into a short-term rental,” Sedona’s city housing manager, Shannon Boone, told Insider of the motive behind the City Council-approved “Rent Local” program.
That program will pay $3,000 to those renting smaller units (such as single bedrooms in a shared home) and $10,000 for those renting out larger properties to remove their listings from short-term rental sites, including Airbnb and Vrbo, and instead rent to workers in the immediate community for at least a year at a time.
This is only a sweetener for property owners to better serve their communities and not a ban on short-term rentals, Boone emphasized. Currently, nearly 1,000 of Sedona’s 6,600 housing units are in use as short-term rentals, Insider reported.
“It’s not our goal to end short-term rentals, it’s our goal to house our local workforce,” she said.
Time will tell if Sedona’s program is worth its budget, but similar incentives elsewhere have indeed worked. Summit County, Colorado, successfully housed 140 local workers by finding legally licensed short-term rental hosts — those on the fence about continuing to operate vacation rentals — and offering them up to $20,000 to sign long-term leases instead.
“There’s been a lot of positive reactions from hosts that maybe had been considering long-term renting. This was a way to try it,” Summit County housing director Jason Dietz told Insider. “It’s really just one tool in the toolbox. There’s no quick fixes for affordable housing.”
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.