Airbnb denies that Dutch hosts ignore rules; study used "flawed methodology"

Airbnb
Airbnb. Photo: Screenshot / airbnb.com

Airbnb refutes a by Trouw and other European newspapers last week that stated that about 40 percent of Dutch Airbnb hosts rent out their homes for more than the limit of 60 days per year. "The data is wrong and uses flawed methodology to make false conclusions", the home sharing site said in a statement sent to NL Times by Simon den Haak, press agent for Airbnb in the Netherlands.

The study in question was done by Trouw, De Tijd, Süddeutsche Zeitung and Le Monde, using data from Airbnb and data analyst AirDNA. According to the newspapers, the study also revealed that almost 20 percent of Airbnb rentals are no longer offered by individuals, but by professional owners. 

But according to Airbnb, this is incorrect. "The entire data set for the Netherlands is based on flawed data and methodology", according to Airbnb. "Public scrapes of our site use inaccurate information to make misleading assumptions about our community."

One misleading assumption is that hosts who have multiple listings on the site, automatically have multiple properties, according to the company. This is not necessarily true, as some Airbnb hosts share multiple rooms in one home on separate listings. Others manage the listings on behalf of others.

Another assumption is that the number of nights a listing is available is the same as the nights booked. Some hosts may list that their home is available 365 days a year, but are only looking to rent out their home for a small number of those nights, according to the company. 

Airbnb points out that the 60 day limit only applies to home sharing in Amsterdam, and not to the Netherlands as a whole. The company implemented automated hosting limits, through which Amsterdam listings that have reached their 60 day limit are automatically removed. "We recently released new data to show this measure is working and that the number of entire homes shared for more than 60 days in Amsterdam has reduced by almost two thirds, compared to the same period last year", Airbnb said. 

According to the company, a typical Airbnb host in the Netherlands earns an addition 3 thousand euros and a typical listing is shared for 28 nights a year. The Airbnb community generated an estimated 795 million euros in total economic activity in the Netherlands last year.

"The vast majority of Airbnb hosts are regular people who share their homes - typically their greatest expense - to boost their income and support their families", Airbnb said in the statement. "The Airbnb model is unique and empowers regular people, boosts local communities and is subject to local tax. It also makes Airbnb fundamentally different to companies that take large sums of money out of the places they do business.”

Figures from Amsterdam alderman Laurens Ivens are also much lower than those in the study. In May last year 13 percent of Airbnb hosts already crossed the 60 day limit, Ivens wrote to the city council last week, according to Trouw. In May this year, that was down to 5 percent. This 5 percent also includes buildings that have a permit to go over the limit, like bed and breakfast establishments. 

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