Should Airbnb Help Pay for Affordable Housing?


1.2 million is about 6 - 10 units.
So we are talking worst case scenario about ~1,000 units. In other words, Airbnb is not your boogieman.
@3, There is no reason to assume that number will not get bigger. In the absence of aggressive taxes and regulation, there is a huge financial incentive for property owners to shift to short-term rentals because the investment on their end is minimal compared to the demands of a full-time renter. When you’re experiencing a housing shortage, even having “only” 1000 units off the rental market is a problem than needs to be redressed. It will only get worse.
This is absolutely the right thing to do.

It's a form of the suggestion I've advocated for Property Tax.

That is a person is not using his home for a primary residence, he should be taxed through the nose, especially if he is gouging others based on the housing shortage.

I advocate we do this even for sq. ft. per person. If you are using more than a certain amount (and this would help small apartment dwellers) the property tax should go up astronomically.

If you have a small home, are a long time resident who has contributed to the state over a number years, are a primary resident, then no, you should only pay your fair share.
Airbnb has about 2,700 listings in Seattle and about 41 percent of hosts have multiple listings, which means they're more likely to be running the rental as a business rather than just, say, renting out their apartment when they're out of town. (That's key to figuring out whether Airbnb is truly taking rentals off the market.)
"More likely", maybe, but that alone is nowhere near a reliable or even useful indicator of who’s taking space off the housing market by doing short-term rentals.

We have 2 bedrooms — a master with a king bed, and a guest room with a twin — and 3 listings on Airbnb.

Mostly we rent out the guest room to one person, for a period as short as two days and as long as a week.

The other two listings are entirely blocked out on the calendar, and dates for them are only opened up in special circumstances. One is for the master bedroom; that gets used only if one of us is out of town, the other is willing to sleep in the guest room over that time, and we want to fill some dates by offering a space for two guests. The other listing is for the entire place, for when we’re both out of town at the same time.

If we didn’t do short-term rentals with the guest room, it would be simply that — a guest room for out-of-town friends and family. We wouldn’t lease it out as a furnished room, in a roommate-type situation.

As an Airbnb guest in 2015 I’ve stayed with 12 different hosts in the US, Canada and Europe for a total of 30 room nights. Only one of those nights was in a space fully dedicated to short-term rentals. Six or so of the other hosts were like us, renting out a guest room that would otherwise be unoccupied. The rest included off-season student housing; a room in an established bed-and-breakfast which now also books through Airbnb; the apartment of a student who stays with her boyfriend when she gets a booking; the home of a musician couple who had an out-of-town gig; and a room above a bar usually occupied by musicians on a night they didn’t have live entertainment.

So, this year, less than four percent of my business with Airbnb as a guest has been in a place that might otherwise been leased out long-term.
Seattle and Washington State have such a fucked up tax system, and they seem hard at work trying to make it worse. How about raising property taxes in general? How about an income tax? How about a fucking estate tax -- you know, a tax on the 1% (or smaller) that only gets collected when the guy is dead?!!

No, don't want to do that. Better to tax the guy who is barely making ends meet, can't afford his mortgage but figures he should rent out a room to strangers.

Oh, and whatever you do, don't try and loosen up our zoning laws. No reason not to continue having one of the most restrictive set of laws of any big city out there. Otherwise, someone might just convert that house down the street to a duplex (Oh, the horror).
@4- The demands of a full-time renter are minimal provided that you have maintained the property reasonably well. How often do you have to call your landlord to fix something? And the hassle of dealing with a new Air BNB renter every day or so, along with cleaning the apartment in between, would far outweigh what you have to do with a long-term rental. It may be that people are making more money with short-term rentals, bu it sure as hell is not because it is less work.