Airbnb has spent millions to fight Jersey City’s efforts to curb short term rentals, but was dealt a stinging defeat this week that will likely see its rental listings shrink.  On Tuesday, Jersey City residents voted overwhelmingly for stricter regulations on Airbnb and other short term rental companies. The regulation, which passed with 70% of the vote, will go into effect Jan 1, 2020.

Besides requiring residents to obtain an annual permit to run short term rentals, Jersey City will roll out stricter rules on the practice. Most of these regulations prohibit investor-owned property rentals. According to The Hudson Reporter, the new regulations limit short term rentals to 60 days for properties where the owner is not present. Short term rentals are prohibited in buildings with more than four units, and renters can not host short-term rentals in any capacity.

Airbnb has over 3,000 listings in Jersey City, which generated an estimated $33 million in revenues during the 12 months prior to September, according to independent data aggregate Inside Airbnb. Most of the listings are investor-owned properties. According to Inside Airbnb, entire home rentals, which are often commercial rentals, account for 67% of all Airbnb listings in the area and generate 87% of revenues. Nearly 77% of the listings are multiple listings, which are listings from Airbnb hosts that contain multiple apartments, homes, or rooms.

A popular defense for short term rentals is touting the tourism revenues they bring to a city. Jersey City residents did not buy this reasoning, likely due the city’s proximity to New York City. Data gathered by Inside Airbnb suggests that New York City, and not Jersey City, reaps most of these economic benefits. The website reports that 92% of the Jersey City Airbnb rentals are 0.5 miles from the PATH trains that go into New York City, accounting for 91% of revenues. 

short term rentals in Jersey City
Source: Inside Airbnb

Due to Jersey City’s proximity to New York City, Airbnb knew this was going to be a tough battle. “From the start of this campaign, we knew this was going to be one of the toughest fights we’ve faced, with the big New York hotel industry determined to fight home sharing, but we had an obligation to stand up for our community,” Airbnb spokesman Christopher Nulty said in a statement. “There are Airbnb listings in over 100,000 cities around the world and we will continue to do all we can to support hosts.”

The Oct 30 Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) filings showed that Airbnb spent $3.3 million with Keep Our Homes, a lobbying group for short term rental companies, according to The Hudson Reporter. Meanwhile, The NO votes opposition, New York Hotel Trade Council and Share Better Education Fund, spent over $1 million, according to ELEC filings.

Categories: Regulations