Jul 6, 2022 - News

Utah's short-term rentals are on the rise

Number of short-term rentals in select Utah counties
Data: Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

The number of short-term rentals in Utah between 2019 and 2021 increased by nearly 27%, according to new data from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

Driving the news: Critics say the rise of Airbnb and Vrbo has exacerbated local communities' housing shortage crises and driven up rental costs.

  • Airbnb and Vrbo are online marketplaces that offer lodging and short-term rentals.

What the report found: Unsurprisingly, Summit County, home to world-class ski resorts and the Sundance Film Festival, leads with the most short-term rentals in the state as of 2021.

  • It increased its inventory by nearly 1,000 units in those two years.
  • Short-term rentals in Summit County made up about a quarter of housing units in the county.
  • Five counties — Summit, Washington, Salt Lake, Rich and Grand — accounted for two-thirds of short-term rental growth over those two years.

Yes, but: "Short-term rentals are kind of like a Catch-22," said Dejan Eskic, a senior research fellow who wrote the brief.

  • He said short-term rentals help boost the local economy because they provide the infrastructure for tourism.
  • But at the same time, they can also be used for housing, Eskic added.

Of Salt Lake County's total short-term rentals, the majority are entire homes compared to private rooms.

  • Salt Lake County contained 3,420 short-term rentals in 2021 — less than 1% of the county's housing units.

Of note: The analysis was "not intended to draw causality" for home prices, but rather to give policymakers a look at the number of short-term rentals in the state.

  • "We could have a policy for some sort of regulation on [short-term rentals], but I think there could be unintended consequences," Eskic said.
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