Mexico City’s Airbnb bet ruffles residents with skyrocketing rents


Artwork: Allie Carl/Axios

Mexico City is betting big on digital nomads despite fears they will drive up rental costs and prices for premises.

State of play: Data from Mexico’s National Migration Institute shows a record number of Americans have emigrated to Mexico since the pandemic began. Many come to work remotely because the cost of living is so much lower than in the US

  • Many of them use Airbnb, which has seen a 30% increase in long-term rentals in Mexico City since 2019, according to the company.
  • Rents in Mexico City’s trendiest neighborhoods have risen about 15% since the first quarter of 2021, according to a report by El Economista and data available on a real estate website. Most residents are unhappy with the influx of American workers.

Drive the news: Airbnb and the Mexico City government signed an agreement last month that facilitates work-from-home tourism by promoting listings on the platform and encouraging Airbnb hosts to offer discounted rates for longer stays.

  • Mexico City’s government promises the deal will bring in $1.4 billion a year in tourism spending that will trickle down to local residents.

But the rights of tenants organizations and tenants say the agreement will further increase rents and segregate the city by forcing out tenants who cannot afford higher costs, especially seniors, Indigenous people and young adults.

Enlarge: After nine years of renting an apartment in the tourist district of Condesa, Paty Maciel was told she had 10 days to move out because her landlord was not renewing anyone’s lease in the building, she said. told Axios Latino.

  • The landlord hasn’t explained why, but most apartments are now Airbnb listings, Maciel said, and their monthly rates are up to 10 times what she paid when she lived there, or $400. per month.
  • “I make sure landlords can do whatever they want with their property, but just because it’s legal doesn’t make it fair. And the government, instead of regulating in favor of those who are vulnerable, invites more people to do it,” says Maciel.

What they say : Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said last month that inflation had also contributed to the spike in rents and that there was no evidence that Airbnb rentals were the sole cause. She added that many neighborhoods experiencing rising rents have long been in high demand.

  • The Airbnb partnership will also help showcase and attract people to less-visited areas through an association with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
  • Airbnb did not respond to requests for comment from Axios, but the Mexico bureau chief recently told a press conference that its services provide locals with a source of income in response to a question about fears of increase in rents.
  • But tenants and housing groups say many listings on AirBnb are owned by large companies, not individual local landlords.

The big picture: Cities around the world have been grappling with how to reconcile the lure of tourism through Airbnb and similar rental platforms and their disruption to neighborhoods in recent years.

  • Barcelona, ​​Amsterdam and San Francisco have in recent years impose restrictions on how Airbnbs can manage long-term rentals in response to concerns about housing affordability.

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