Has West Hollywood been able to stop illegal short term rentals?
In our March 2018 report, we found that West Hollywood:
- Experienced 40% growth in short-term rental listings over a year
- Had more listings, given its size, than all but one or two other cities in the region
- Had fewer listings than nearby Los Angeles neighborhoods, adjusted for size
We wrote that report shortly after West Hollywood began strengthening its enforcement efforts with help from a specialized contractor. Those efforts have now had a little time to make an impact. In this report, we ask whether they’ve succeeded in stopping short-term rentals, or at least slowing them down. We’ll use Airbnb listings as a proxy for all short-term rentals.
In the last three years, the City of West Hollywoood has:
- Opened 365 code compliance cases for short-term rentals (235 of them have been closed/resolved, 130 of them are still open/being worked on)
- Sent 365+ warning letters
- Issued 75 citations
- Levied over $250,000 in fines
Another 500 warning letters have been sent out by the City’s new contractor, Host Compliance.
Number of listings
Airbnb had 809 short-term rental listings in West Hollywood in October 2018. The number represents one point in time during the month, when Inside Airbnb (an independent website) took a snapshot of listings. As far as we know, none of the listings were for legal rentals. Our understanding is that the only short-term rentals allowed by the City are by licensed homeowners who stay in their home with their paying guests (“hosted home-sharing”). Licenses will be issued soon, but there weren’t any in October.
The chart below shows the number of listings at 18 points over the last 3 1/2 years. The number stayed in the 600 to 900+ range. The earliest number we have is 604 listings in May 2015.
Unfortunately, Inside Airbnb didn’t collect data for West Hollywood between May 2017 and April 2018, so we don’t know for sure what happened during that period. We believe the number of listings rose fairly quickly and then came down again, based separate data from the City. It would be consistent with the Inside Airbnb snapshot for April 2018: 920 listings, the highest of all of their snapshots.
The number of West Hollywood listings shrank 4% between May 2017 and October 2018. We focus on that period because it gives us a “before and after” view of increased enforcement and it includes the most recent data.
The chart below shows the listing growth rates for nearby communities. West Hollywood was an island in an area with high growth. The growth rates in bordering communities included 24% in Fairfax, 41% in Hollywood, 48% in Beverly Hills, and 57% in the Los Angeles neighborhood north of West Hollywood. The growth rate was 20% in Culver City.
How unusual was West Hollywood’s shrinkage? Among 100+ Los Angeles communities with 50 or more listings, only two experienced a drop in listings. They were West Hollywood and Santa Monica, which has its own short-term rental licensing and enforcement program. The drop was bigger there at 29%.
Whole versus partial home
The City’s decision to allow some hosted home-sharing suggests that partial-home rentals are somewhat less of a concern than whole-home rentals. The chart below shows the percentage of listings that were for the entire home in West Hollywood and nearby communities in October 2018. In all cases, whole-home listings were the majority.
The range was 60% to 80%, with West Hollywood close to the top at 78%. Santa Monica and Culver City were on the low end around 60%. Hollywood was at 70% and Beverly Hills at 75%. The hills to the north were 81%, a bit higher than West Hollywood.
The whole-home percentage has gone up and down in West Hollywood since 2015, but the biggest increase was in the last year. It was 68% in May 2017. By April 2018, it was 74%. Now it’s 78%.
Short-term rental professionals with multiple listings
How much of the short-term rental market is controlled by short-term rental professionals with multiple properties? Our estimate is based on the number of listings placed by hosts who have multiple listings in the Los Angeles area.
Almost half of West Hollywood listings fall that category. The share started around 30% in 2015, rose into the mid-30s in 2016, then 40% in 2017, reaching 50% in 2018.
Many nearby communities had similar percentages in October 2018. Santa Monica’s was the same as West Hollywood’s. Fairfax and Beverly Hills were slightly higher. The exceptions were Culver City on the low end (36%) and Hollywood on the high end (63%).
Still listed 1 1/2 years later
We wondered how many of the listings from May 2017 were still available a year and a half later in October 2018. The answer was about a third. However, some of those may not have been active anymore. They hadn’t had a review posted since May 2017. We can narrow our search to more active listings that were available in May 2017 and had been reviewed since then. They represented a quarter of the recent listings.
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