A New Analysis Suggests Airbnb’s Attempt at Self-Policing Only Scraped the Surface of the Illegal Listings in Portland

Industry watchdog says Portlanders continue to violate city rules on listing in big numbers.

(Ann Gray)

An independent analyst says Airbnb's claims that it's cracking down on rule breakers are overblown.

Earlier this month, the company announced it had removed 524 listings since January by Portlanders who were renting out more than one entire home.

But despite the crackdown, new data suggests there may be hundreds more listings that are still operating in violation of Portland's rules for Airbnbs.

That data, which Murray Cox of the New York-based watchdog site Inside Airbnb obtained by "scraping" the Airbnb website, shows there are still 437 Portland listings in which the "host" had listed more than one entire home—which may violate city rules.

That suggests that landlords, instead of renting out spare bedrooms, are turning their properties into hotels.

Cox uses a software program to scrape all Airbnb listings for the city.
"It's very easy indicator of commercial activity," says Cox, who's been tracking Airbnb since 2015. "It shows us how Airbnb is really being used. They announce they have removed the bad actors. I wanted to see if that was true."

City rules require that Portland residents only rent out homes they live in and (with the exception of granny flats) rent them for no more than three months per year.

The policy's aim is to keep housing available for the city's renters.
Although Airbnb claims it's stepping up policing, the company hasn't produced data for outside inspection, including by the city of Portland. The company insists, however, that the independent data-mining Cox did misrepresents hosts' rental patterns.

"This third-party data scrape is inaccurate," Airbnb spokeswoman Laura Rillos says in a statement, "and falsely equates an Airbnb listing marketed as an entire space with a unit of housing removed from the market."

Here's what Cox found from looking at 2,667 Airbnb listings
for entire homes:

Entire homes listed by Portland hosts with more than one entire home for rent: 16%

(Ann Gray)

Entire homes listed for more than 95 nights per year: 64%

(Ann Gray)

Entire home listings that may violate one or both of the above city rules: 69%

(Ann Gray)

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