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 https://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

Comments are closed.

DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way

See more Northern Virginia »


Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 neighborhoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »

Upcoming Seminars ▾