Lily M. Hoffman – Airbnb, Short-Term Rentals and the Future of Housing

Professor Emerita Lily M. Hoffman just published a book titled Airbnb, Short-Term Rentals and the Future of Housing from Routledge with Barbara Schmitter Heisler (Professor Emerita of Gettysburg College).

How do Airbnb and short-term rentals affect housing and communities? Locating the origins and success of Airbnb in the conditions wrought by the 2008 financial crisis, the authors bring together a diverse body of literature and construct case studies of cities in the US, Australia and Germany to examine the struggles of local authorities to protect their housing and neighborhoods from the increasing professionalization and commercialization of Airbnb.

The book argues that the most disruptive impact of Airbnb and short-term rentals has been on housing and neighborhoods in urban centers where housing markets are stressed. Despite its claims, Airbnb has revealed itself as platform capitalism, incentivizing speculation in residential housing. At the heart of this trajectory is its business model and control over access to data.

In a first narrative, the authors discuss how Airbnb has institutionalized short-term rentals, consequently removing long-term rentals, contributing to rising rents and changing neighborhood milieus as visitors replace long-term residents. In a second narrative the authors trace the transformation of short-term rentals into a multibillion-dollar hybrid real estate sector promoting a variety of flexible tenure models. While these models provide more options for owners and investors, they have the potential to undermine housing security and exacerbate housing inequality.
While the overall effects have been similar across countries and cities, depending on housing systems, local response has varied from less restrictive in Australia to increasingly restrictive in the United States and most restrictive in Germany. Although Airbnb has made some concessions, it has not given any city the data needed to efficiently enforce regulations, making for costly externalities.


Table of Contents

Part One: The American Experience  
1. The Sharing Economy, Airbnb and the Financialization of Housing
2. Cities, Data and Data Wars
3. The Airbnb Effect: Challenges to Housing and Localities
Part Two: Moving Beyond the US   
4. Australia, Airbnb’s Most Penetrated Market
5. Germany, One of Airbnb’s Least Penetrated Markets
Conclusion: Repositioning Short-Term Rentals in the Housing Market


Lily M. Hoffman, Professor Emerita at CCNY and the CUNY Graduate Center, received her PhD in Sociology from Columbia University. Her research interests lie in the social/spatial impact of urban restructuring, including housing, tourism, urban governance and planning policy in comparative perspective. Among other publications, she is author of The Politics of Knowledge: Activist Movements in Medicine and Planning; co-editor of Cities and Visitors: Regulating People, Markets and City Space, with Susan S. Fainstein and Dennis R. Judd; and co-editor of Pandemics and Emerging Infectious Diseases: The Sociological Agenda with Robert Dingwall and Karen Staniland.

Barbara Schmitter Heisler is Professor Emerita, Gettysburg College. She received a PhD in Sociology from the University of Chicago and was the recipient of a German Marshall Fund Fellowship and the Berlin Prize. Her research, which has focused on international migration, racial and ethnic relations and housing, has been published in numerous journals and book chapters. Professor Heisler is co-editor of a special issue of the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science and the author of two books, From German Prisoner of War to American Citizen and An Artist as Soldier.