Airbnb properties drive up neighbouring rental prices, study finds

The more Airbnb properties in a neighbourhood, the higher the rents of neighbouring properties, according to research at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. 

Researchers have examined the link between the platform and rental prices and found that Airbnb has an inflationary effect. “The more Airbnb homes are added to a neighbourhood, the more quickly rental prices rise,” says sociology professor Pieter-Paul Verhaeghe.

Verhaeghe compared the evolution of Airbnb supply with changes to rental prices in Brussels neighbourhoods between 2015 and 2020, before the Covid pandemic. Rents increased particularly quickly between 2016 and 2018.

“There was a general increase in Brussels then,” he says, “but if you look at the change in Airbnb density – the number of rentals in each area – you see that rents rise more sharply in neighbourhoods where this density increases the most.”

Data on rents is fragmented and not centrally available. However, the study concludes that for every additional Airbnb property per 100 households in a neighbourhood, there is an average increase in rental prices of 1.6 per cent.

"The professionalisation of Airbnb helps create scarcity on the rental market"

More properties being listed on Airbnb means shrinking supply in the rental market, which puts pressure on prices, while neighbourhoods with lots of Airbnb properties attract more tourists, pushing up the value of all properties, including shops and restaurants.

Figures released in April showed a record number of landlords using rental platforms like Airbnb. The share of professional hosts – investors buying entire properties or individuals buying second homes to rent out via Airbnb – has also been rising for years.

Easing the pressure

Brussels is trying to combat abuse of rental platforms. The city set up a cell in 2020 to identify and fine providers who offer more properties than permitted or rent for more than the allowed 120 days a year.

According to Anaïs Maes of, city councillor for Urban Planning and Public Space, nearly 500 properties have been removed from the platform and returned to the rental market as a result. 

“The professionalisation of Airbnb helps create scarcity on the rental market,” she said. “By going back to the initial philosophy – occasionally offering a room in your own home – we want to normalise the situation and hopefully ease the pressure on the rental market.”



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