Lights and shadows, to use an overused expression, on Ddl Santanchè which aims to give a uniform discipline to the thorny problem of short-term rentals in Italy. If on the one hand the professionals of the sector, from online platforms to property managers to hoteliers, are satisfied – even if only partially – on the other hand the mayors are not at all, since, in their opinion, the law does not resolve any Thus the housing emergency would not give the administrations greater power over the territory. Below we explain why it doesn’t.
Ddl Santanché, doubts about the minimum stay of two days
The satisfaction with the Santanchè bill of property managers gathered under the acronym Aigab, hoteliers, platforms such as Airbnb and trade associations, including Confedilizia, is only partial; if everyone applaudsintroduction of the National Identification Code for those who sell apartments for tourist rent, which should eliminate most if not all of the undeclared, doubts arise regarding the minimum stay of two days – an obligation which constitutes a limitation for the owners and could lead to the proliferation of “illegal” stays – and to sanctions, deemed too mild and insufficient to replace an effective control system against illegal activity.
Short-term rentals, disappointed mayors
But to be really disappointed are the mayors of the cities, especially those with a higher tourist density, which they hoped from this bill a solution to the problem of the housing emergency. With the assumption, never abandoned by them, that the proliferation of short-term rentals is directly responsible for the increase in rents and therefore of the fact that students, professionals and residents in general find it increasingly difficult to find affordable housing, leading to the emptying of cities or, conversely, the overcrowding of indecent apartments at shamefully high prices. But is it true that the two situations are related?
Short-term rentals and expensive rentals: correlation studies
The point on which clarity should be clarified, if we want to find a solution to what is undoubtedly a social problem, even before a real estate one, is precisely this: identify the cause of high rents. In this sense, supporters of short-term rentals as the cause of all housing problems support various justifications for their request to introduce further restrictions on tourist accommodation in Italy.
First justification: all of Europe does it. Amsterdam, Berlin and Barcelona are among the most cited examples of the restrictions aimed at limiting the presence of tourists in historic centres, which should thus once again be populated by residents with affordable apartments.
Second justification: the increase in short-term rentals increases rents generally. The Press mentions it Tortuga study (of 2020, with very different inflation from today) which shows that, for each 1 percent increase in Airbnb penetration in a city, there is a corresponding growth of about 7 percent in rents. We emphasize:
correspondence is shown, not correlation between the two circumstances, since the study did not analyze other parameters such as, trivially, the relationship between the demand for housing and the existence of vacant housing available,
or between the percentage of short-term rental accommodation compared to the share of “traditional” rental homes, parameters that would help explain something of the dynamics of supply and demand that drive rents.
A third justification it is precisely that the increase in short-term rental accommodation is responsible for the decrease in housing availability rented out traditionally, and in particular to students and young people. Some data provided by Link University Coordination to Corriere della Sera, for example, they show how in Italy there are 40,000 bed places compared to a housing demand by 421,000 off-site students, then asserting that the 50,000 homes present for short-term rentals on the AirBnb platform between Bologna, Rome and Milan (main university cities in Italy) would be the main causes of the reduction in the supply of available bed places. Without thinking that, even if all those houses were present on the student rental market, even assuming a total average of 100 bed places, however, they would not cover half of the total requirementwhich needs much more to be satisfied.
Tourist rentals in Europe: is limiting them a solution?
But the question is: how much truth is there correlation between tourist locations and expensive rents, and, above all, can limiting the former be a solution for the housing emergency? Because, if the answer is: “nothing”, and “no”, then a bill that intervenes on short-term rentals cannot have an effect on the housing emergency, by default.
Given that there is no – or we are unaware of – a study showing the actual cause-and-effect link between the increase in the number of houses intended for short-term rentals and theincrease in rents, which is linked to a myriad of contributing factors each of which should be analyzed as part of a complex phenomenon, what can be noted is that the cities mainly cited as virtuous examples for introducing restrictions on tourist rentals they have not experienced corresponding declines in rents.
Amsterdam for example, which is flanking the policy of restriction of the days available for tourist rental a plan for new buildings to increase the supply of available housing, as well as the regulation of a percentage of rents to a maximum of 1000 euros, is and remains the city with the highest rents in Europe.
According to theInternational Rental Index di Housing Anywherein the first quarter of 2023
to rent a one bedroom apartment in Amsterdam you have to pay 2250 euros, compared to 1800 in Milan and 1800 in Rome,
while for a room we are talking about 920 euros in Amsterdam against 720 in Milan and 520 in Rome. And the interesting fact is that compared to the previous year in Amsterdam an apartment costs 350 euros more and a room 140 euros more while in Milan we are talking about an increase of 100 euros and 72 euros respectively, and a Roma of an increase of 30 euros for a room e even a decrease of 50 euros for an apartment.
Furthermore, the Dutch capital is experiencing an increase in sales by homeowners, who do not find it convenient to rent at controlled prices, thus de facto subtracting apartments from the availability of rents.
A similar situation can be found if we look at the data of other cities such as Barcelona or Berlin.
Because short-term rentals don’t cause the housing emergency
That short-term rentals are then directly responsible the increase in rents in Italy and in general of the housing emergency which directly affects students and young couples, is a thesis that property managers have repeatedly contested, data in hand.
“The short-term rentals in Italy represent 1.7% of homes at a national level, with percentages that differ little between the various cities, – he explains Marco Celani, CEO of Italianway and president of Aigab, the National Association of Property Managers. – It’s possible that it all depends on them, when there are 9.5 million empty houses in Italyof which hundreds of thousands in historic centres, tens of thousands of public property?”.
So what is the cause of the housing crisis?
“We can find the cause in the first pages of any microeconomics textbook: it’s called law of supply and demand.
If in the face of a very high demand we have a shortage of supply, prices rise. Now, given how little the short-term rentals weigh numerically on the total number of accommodations, we really can’t think that the lack of supply is the “fault” of tourist rentals, which on the contrary bring wealth to the country. Instead, the cause must be sought in why there are so many empty houses, that the owners prefer to leave vacant rather than rent”.
And why, then, is there a shortage of rental houses?
“Complex phenomena must be analyzed by weighing the various components that have an impact. What has an impact on rents and the number of houses available? First point, the demographic growth. More births mean more residents and more demand for homes. The only Italian cities with demographic growth are Milan, Bologna and Florence. Second point: i interest rates increasing. The cost of mortgages is growing and young couples cannot afford to buy a house, therefore the demand for rental houses increases. Third point: inflation, which according to Istat brought the 4+4 contracts, which in Italy are 4.3 million, to an increase of 11 per cent. Fourth point: the attractiveness of some cities: Milan attracts young talents and, together with Bologna, Rome and Florence, has the best universities in Italy, which increases the number of non-residents and therefore the demand for housing. If the demand for real estate increases and the supply doesn’t increase, the cost of rents rises because more people are willing to pay a higher price. But in most Italian cities the phenomenon is reversed: the value of properties falls because there is an excess of supply and little demand”.
Could it be that the share of short-term rental accommodation is heavier in some cities than in others?
“Obviously every city has its own story: for example in zone 1 of Milan students have never been there. Removing those lodgings from the tourist lease would mean leaving them vacant or renting them out to those who can afford 8,000 euros per square metre, certainly not to students. After all, a lot is being built in Milan, also thanks to public policies that provide for affordable rents for a certain proportion of new buildings, so the market will find its equilibrium”.
THE Santanché bill did not satisfy the mayors, is that right?
“The bill looks at the national tourism problem, not at local housing policies, and moreover the Ministry had never stated that it wanted to give the mayors control over rents, which is what they were asking for. A public emergency cannot be solved with private assets. What is needed is a simplified national regulation compared to the twenty regional regulations, and a central control that allows operators to be selected upstream, contrasting the black economy which, at the local level, abounds.
With Cin’s obligation on anyone who wants to rent a house, those who are not in good standing simply cannot enter the rental market.
If we want to cite the examples outside Italy, Greece did exactly the same thing: introduced a national code and closed all businesses that did not have one. As Europe’s blackest market has become the most transparent”.