Airbnb, Short-Term Rentals Overwhelm Greek Cities, Neighborhoods

A general view of the city of Athens with the ancient Acropolis hill on the background, Tuesday Jan. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS – With Greece on a record run of tourism seasons and seen the world’s top destination this summer, short-term rentals led by Airbnb have engulfed whole city neighborhoods, driving out long-term residents and spiking rents elsewhere.

In a feature, Kathimerini outlined the phenomenon as out of control, with the number of properties on short-term lease jumping from 130 in 2010, just ahead of a near-decade long economic crisis, to more than 200,000 by the end of 2019.

That was the finding of a survey by the the Center of Planning and Economic Research and as successive governments haven’t acted to put on curbs despite protests from neighborhood residents.

Greece is one of just a few countries in Europe that have not introduced any restrictions to short-term property rentals – or effectively enforced those that already exist, the paper said, with resistance growing in areas such as the anarchist hotbed of Exarchia.

The absence of tax regulations and rules is making it difficult for renters to find a place, with the cost soaring and reversing a declining market during the crisis, and also threatening the prospects for the short-term rentals, the paper’s report added.

Data from Aimee Trusler, International Sales Manager at AirDNA – a company that monitors short-term rental trends – found the supply of houses through the Airbnb and HomeAway platforms rose from December 2018 to December 2019 by 24 percent.

The number of nights spent at such accommodation jumped by over 95 percent, but the occupancy rate declined by about 15 percent, showing a growing glut that could cut into revenues, especially if tourism doesn’t keep growing.

A recent study on the sector by the Institute of the Greek Tourism Confederation (INSETE) showed that revenues from the leasing sector for homes and apartments hit some 1.15 billion euros ($1.25 billion) from June, 2018 to the end of May 2019.

Greek tax authorities have moved to make the properties be registered and to include data listing the the names of hosts with the Independent Authority for Public Revenue (IAPR) which could deactivate their websites if they fail to comply.

Another survey showed the spillover effect of driving up rents and changing the whole character of neighborhoods suddenly trendy and emptied of long-time residents which could boomerang.

AirDNA data show 10,281 properties available for short-term leasing, at an average rate of 52 euros ($56.40) per day. Across the country in 2019 takings per rented home declined 9.4 percent to 43.5 euros ($47.18), from 48 euros ($52.06 ) in 2018, while occupancy dropped to 39 percent last year from 45.5 percent from just a year earlier.