As other neighborhoods in Los Angeles have discovered recently, conversion of regular rental units into unregulated short-term (often overnight) rentals advertised on services such as AirBnB and VRBO can cause a variety of problems for neighbors. While landlords are increasingly fond of such arrangements – because they can make more money on nightly or weekly rentals than they can on standard 6-month or 1-year leases — neighbors often complain that the properties are no longer well maintained, traffic increases, tenants are not well screened, and illegal or undesirable activity abounds.
Last week, Jason Peers, who lives in the Oakwood-Maplewood-St. Andrews neighborhood, alerted the Buzz to one particularly intense concentration of overnight rentals in his area. According to Peers, there are at least seven short-term rentals currently being advertised on AirBnB in the Gramercy/Maplewood area. And all of these – according to their AirBnB listings – seem to be outfitted and run as hostels, with rentals by the bunk, not as individual rooms or units. Also, according to Peers, the photos for the advertised rentals all show furnishings so similar, it’s pretty clear they’re all run by the same operator.
[Note: an AirBnB search by the Buzz of the same area this morning actually turned up 27 listings for single-bed spaces in 90004 that go for $32 per night or less, with at least 17 of them within a block of Wilton/Clinton/Gramercy/Maplewood. The listings – which, as Peers found, all feature very similar furnishings – describe the accommodations as a “real bed” in a “shared room.” Most of the properties in question seem to be single-family homes with R-3 multi-family zoning.]
Los Angeles has been struggling in recent months with the issue of short-term rentals. According to a city memo from 2014, as reported by CurbedLA, short term rentals are not allowed in residential areas (including, presumably R-3 multi-family areas)…but that hasn’t seemed to slow the AirBnB trend. According to a white paper released last summer by the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, Los Angeles is losing about 11 housing units per day to STR conversions.
According to Peers, in a letter to City Council District 4 officials and the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council last week, the homes now being rented by the bed in his neighborhood “previously had long-term renters who were forced out — the homes were all tagged for tear down, but so far only one has been demolished. The rest have been renovated and filled with bunk beds. “
Nikki Ezhari, CD 4 Field Deputy for the area in question, discussed the Gramercy-area problem at last week’s GWNC Board meeting, but said the city currently lacks laws to address AirBnB rentals, and there’s not much it can do until more specific rules are drafted and put into effect.
At the meeting, GWNC Board members suggested that occupancy limits and division of rental properties into possibly illegal units or use as “hostels” should fall under the current authority of the Department of Building and Safety. Ezhari sent a follow-up note to city officials after the meeting, but according to Peers, she has not yet reported a response.
In the meantime, according to Peers, “The yards and curbsides are no longer cared for and trash is everywhere. There are no longer gardeners tending to the properties, there are people coming and going all hours of the night and the properties are in general disarray. We were sad that the homes were marked for tear down but now we wish they were!”