1200 Percent: The Airbnb Inauguration Spike

by Shilpi Paul

Airbnb inauguration rental on Capitol Hill.

At this time in 2009, DC hotels were filling up with Obama supporters. Many area residents had also taken to Craigslist in the hopes of finding out-of-towners willing to pay steep prices in return for lodgings close to the historic inauguration. As UrbanTurf learned, that didn’t quite pan out as some had hoped.

Four years later, another option has taken root as Airbnb is now much more of a presence in the short-term rental world. According to Airbnb spokesperson Emily Joffrion, only 150 people utilized the site to find a place during the 2009 inauguration. This year, she told UrbanTurf, the company expects 2,000 people to use the site — a more than twelvefold increase.

Due to the increased demand, rates are up as well.

“For an event like this, we typically see hosts increase their prices about 2.5x to 4x,” said Joffrion. Though the prices vary widely depending on the neighborhood and the size of the space, a quick glance at the current available rentals reveals a one-bedroom in Petworth going for $348/night, a room in Adams Morgan for $399/night and a Union Station three-bedroom for $920/night.

It’s hard to determine how many Airbnb-ers posted their homes just for the event, but many have changed the title of their listing to something like “Inauguration Special” or “Inaugural Deal” to increase exposure. The most popular place to stay this weekend is, predictably, Capitol Hill. Shaw and Dupont Circle are next on the list. Based on historical data, Airbnb estimated how many people would be staying in each DC neighborhood. Here is the rundown:

  • Capitol Hill: 240 people
  • Shaw: 180 people
  • Dupont Circle: 140 people
  • Columbia Heights: 120 people
  • Mt. Pleasant: 100 people
  • Adams Morgan: 90 people
  • Logan Circle: 80 people
  • Mt. Vernon Square: 60 people
  • Eckington: 50 people
  • Truxton Circle: 50 people
  • U Street Corridor: 50 people

See other articles related to: inauguration rentals, inauguration, dclofts, airbnb

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/1200_percent_increase_the_airbnb_inauguration_spike/6524


  1. jj said at 4:08 pm on Wednesday January 16, 2013:

    Of course most of these listings are illegal.  You need a business license to do short term rentals.  Airbnb undercuts regular B&Bs; and conventional hotels because the illegally don’t charge d.c. sales and lodging taxes (15%). And I’m pretty sure that none of these folks have the appropriate liability insurance either.  D.C. needs to make some simplified short term rental licenses for single units and require these folks to collect the right taxes.

  1. Kevin said at 11:31 pm on Wednesday January 16, 2013:

    Wow I didn’t know any of that JJ, thanks for the info.

  1. H Street LL said at 8:45 am on Thursday January 17, 2013:

    I thought Airbnb has insurance now included?

    Agreed that they need to pay taxes though!

  1. Stanton Park said at 10:07 am on Thursday January 17, 2013:

    Actually, the DC government is on record as saying an inauguration rental is an exception to the usual rental rules, and you don’t have to pay the 14.5% lodging tax.

    I don’t know about the basic business license part, but if you have a property that is already legally a rental you can rent it for this weekend and not pay the tax.

    I assume the logic in that is that the paperwork involved would be enormous for both DC and the property owner, and would likely have all kinds of idiotic consequences (like forever getting a tax notice from DC asking about your hotel business property tax for the upcoming year, etc.)

  1. Johnson said at 10:20 am on Thursday January 17, 2013:

    JJ sounds like Michael Bloomberg Jr., who just made some new law to make it harder for NYC residents to use Airbnb to make some $. The reason Bloomberg did this, because it hurt the NYC hotel industry and took money out of over-paid brokers’ pockets.

    My point, let the little guy make some $ by renting out the property they own and let them operate in a free market. As an airbnb host, I can tell you we have to pay taxes and they have liability insurance.

  1. jj said at 3:26 pm on Thursday January 17, 2013:

    @Stanton Park. Whether you rent a room in your house, your condo or a single family dwelling,in D.C. you must have a basic business license to rent it out. It’s not an expensive license (about $100/year), but does require a little leg work—which includes a safety inspection of the premises. If you rent it for less than 1 month, it is considered a short term rentals. Short term rental typically requires lodging tax (14.5%). BTW Most condo associations forbid short term rentals—too much wear and tear and security/insurance issues. Yes there was an exemption for the last Inaugural, so I suspect there will be one this time. There’s nothing wrong with the Airbnb concept, but a reasonable streamlined way to legally do it would make sense—this protects both the “little guy” and their guests and it would open up the market even further. @Johnson, YOU don’t pay sales/lodging tax, your guests do—if you charge them, that is. I’ve yet to see a d.c. add that mentions the lodging tax.  A typical B&B owner (who is also a “little guy”) in the city collects sales and lodging tax and remits it to the city and then pays all the regular taxes. Here is the airbnb disclaimer about that hotel tax issue: https://www.airbnb.com/help/question/164

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