The Rise of Short-Term Rentals

In a recent study conducted in Gardiner, Montana, by the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana, unsolicited comments from nearly 50 percent of residents exemplified issues in Montana’s affordable housing crisis. Those comments ranged from complaints about high rent to unreasonable housing prices. And while the state battles an affordable housing issue, it’s also seen a surge in short-term rentals.

Short-term rentals, or vacation rentals, are defined as the rental of a home or a room in a home for less than 30 days. Many rentals are on a weekly basis, while some are a few days. Short-term rentals are currently flooding communities like Whitefish, Bozeman, West Yellowstone, Kalispell and Missoula. But smaller communities are seeing it too. Airbnb reported that in 2017, listings in rural locations accounted for 3.3 million guest arrivals in the United States, a 138 percent increase in one year.

Originally short-term rentals were considered a part of the sharing economy, offering travelers a low-cost option to pricey hotels or resorts. But a growing trend has emerged with commercial operators running hoteling schemes, which tend to fracture communities, raise safety concerns and increase the price of rent for residents while depleting affordable housing options.