One reason local governments are often hostile to Airbnb and similar home-sharing websites is that politicians believe that the interests of short-term renters and long-term renters are opposed- that is, that Airbnb wastes housing units that could be used by long-term renters. This claim is of course based on the assumption that the interests of long-term renters are more important, because short-term renters are usually rich tourists with plenty of money to spend.
If short-term rents were always as high as those of fancy hotels, this argument might make sense. But in fact, some Airbnb rents are comparable to rents in the long-term market, and some Airbnb landlords in fact will rent property for months.
I discovered this while playing around with Airbnb listings in New York City. In particular, I looked at rentals for the entire month of August. I found rents as low as $827 per month (for a furnished room in Hollis, Queens).
Even after limiting my search to full-fledged apartments (as opposed to sharing a room in someone’s house) I found some listings that were comparable to those in the long-term rental market. I found a listing for $1800 in Staten Island, and $1826 in Midwood (in southern Brooklyn) – far less than what I pay. The cheapest Manhattan listing (a walk-up in Murray Hill) was $2400, about what I paid before I got married. I did another search for 3-month tenacies (from Aug 1-Oct 1) and found comparable results: the cheapest fully private space rented for $1752 (in East New York) and the cheapest Manhattan listing rented for $2453. The cheapest roommate arrangement was $736- in Bensonhurst.
In sum, it appears that if you can afford a traditional apartment, you can probably afford a low-end Airbnb listing- despite the regulatory obstacles that government uses against the latter. It logically follows that the distinction between “long-term renter” and “short-term renter” might actually be pretty blurry.