In the last twelve months, Airbnb listings in Reykjavík have increased 90%, and now account for 44% of the properties on the rent market, Visir reports.
The figures come from a report by Professor Jeroen Oskam from Hotelschool The Hague in the Netherlands, who has been studying the impact of Airbnb on the rent market, tourism and local life in various European cities—including Madrid, Amsterdam and London.
The impact of the rental service is being felt across the continent, but nowhere else has Oskam observed a change as radical as the one in Reykjavík.
A harsh reality.
According to the data, around 23.5% of properties on Reykjavik’s rent market were registered on the Airbnb website in 2016, accommodating around 380,000 tourists. Now, following the 90% increase the local population has found it progressively more difficult to find housing.
To add insult to injury, around 72% of the Airbnb listings are rented out as whole apartments. In comparison, in Berlin the ratio between shared flats and whole apartments is at around one to one.
The report confirms the difficult reality facing students and low-wage workers looking for apartment in the capital. The increasing demand has made finding housing more difficult and caused an increase in prices. Yet, so far only baby steps have been taken towards a concrete solution.
The role of the courts
Last year, Alþingi set limits to the number of days Airbnb could be rented out without a license, and the maximum income apartments could generate. Who is in charge of supervising and enforcing the law, however, remains unclear.
Similarly a policy has been lacking in regards to constructing infrastructure that could help connect the suburbs with the city centre. Which would help decrease the pressure tourism is having on the downtown area.
In the meantime, the local courts have been dealing with Airbnb cases with an iron fist, especially when it comes to apartment blocks.
Last year, a district court deemed it necessary for a couple who had been renting three flats on Airbnb to get approval from all 70 residents living in the block before moving forward. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will ponder the possibility of expanding the ruling, forcing Airbnbers who plan on renting flats in apartment blocks to apply for permission from their housing associations.
Ending local suffering a priority
Action has been taken against Airbnb take overs in cities from Berlin to San Fransisco, and with the first steps taken in Reykjavík we can only hope for more.
Because the problem isn’t due to individuals renting out a room in their apartments, or when they holiday. But because when apartments are bought with the sole intention of being rented out on Airbnb, then they get taken out of circulation for the local population and effectively become hotels. And you know what serves that purpose better? A hotel.