The number of hosts who list two or more entire homes on Airbnb is growing faster than any other category, a sign more commercial users are cropping up in the Hub.
Airbnb hosts who list at least two entire homes surged by 58 percent over the last year, according to the company. The increase is dramatically higher than the number of hosts who have just one full-home listing, which grew by 40 percent, and those who list part of a home, such as a spare bedroom, which went up 32 percent.
And though the number of multi-unit hosts remains small — 190 among about 3,300 hosts in the Boston market — the steep year-over-year rise shows commercial hosts are increasingly listing their properties on the popular online marketplace. In many cases, hosts have far more than two listings.
A Herald review conducted last year found numerous companies listing dozens of units each, including San Francisco-based Sonder, which lists more than 100 units in the Hub.
Airbnb also has a feature in which current hosts can list their friends’ homes, which could account for some of the growth, the company said.
In a statement, Airbnb said it will continue to work with city and state governments to develop regulation. In other major cities, including San Francisco, Airbnb has banned hosts with multiple listings, and has said in the past it will work with municipalities to ensure regulations are based on their individual preferences.
“We have worked with cities and communities around the globe to develop local-specific rules that support tourism, protect neighborhood quality of life, and allow people to share their homes,” Airbnb spokeswoman Crystal Davis said in a statement.
The number of overall listings, about 4,000 in Boston, remains relatively paltry compared to the number of houses. Still, officials worry the quickly growing industry is driving up rent and taking good housing off the market so the locations can serve as year-round Airbnb rentals. Last week, Cambridge proposed requiring that any short-term rentals be owner-occupied.
“We feel that the person who is picking them off across the city is having the most impact on the housing market and having the most impact on the housing crunch. Those are ones we are most concerned about,” said state Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston), who is leading the House of Representatives’ effort to introduce short-term rental legislation.
Michlewitz’s bill would differentiate between personal, commercial and business hosts, and tax and regulate them accordingly.
“We think they’re different business models, and we think they should be treated as different types of businesses,” Michlewitz said.
Airbnb has sought to show off hosts who list part of their houses in television advertisements, touting the economic benefits to both hosts and their neighborhoods.
This article originally appeared in the Boston Herald on March 12, 2017.