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CASA Working Paper 209

Beyond informality: The rise of peer-to-peer (P2P) renting

20 March 2017

The recent proliferation of peer-to-peer (P2P) renting, commonly associated with the 'sharing economy', is a unique phenomenon developing globally. This chapter focuses on a particular P2P platform, Airbnb, an online market for linking those who have accommodation to rent to potential renters. It is commonly considered as 'informal' or 'illegal' by many different groups because it is not heavily regulated by government unlike hotels and hostels. Our study examines Airbnb from multiple perspectives, including the nature of sharing in the 'sharing ecnonomy', the controversies surrounding Airbnb, its spatiotemporal dynamics, and the potential relationship between Airbnb to rapid gentrification in different areas of the city. From this study, we can draw preliminary conclusions that Airbnb is beyond 'informality' per se with it leaning toward a more decentralised online service. By using London as a case study, our analysis also shows that there the majority of the listings are 'entire home' property that might be associated with areas where there is rapid gentrification. This chapter contributes to the discussion of Airbnb and the sharing econnomy by providing a preliminary yet comprehensive approach to our understanding of the platform, and its impact on the city.

Author/s: Zahratu Shabrina, Yongping Zhang, Elsa Arcaute, Michael Batty

Download working paper 209 (file size 6.65MB, PDF format)