DC-area seniors like Airbnb income

WASHINGTON — Airbnb says the number of hosts in the D.C. area 60 years old or older has increased by 275 percent in the last two years, the fastest-growing demographic among Airbnb hosts.

And it says the average senior host in the Washington region earns just under $6,000 a year from the service.

In the District, Maryland and Virginia, senior hosts represent 12 percent of all Airbnb members. Currently, 1,561 Airbnb properties listed in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. are owned by seniors.

It can be good retirement income.

“Forty-eight percent of our hosts in D.C. say they use income from Airbnb to pay their rent or their mortgage, or for other expenses,” Airbnb’s Will Burns tells WTOP.  “The big idea for seniors is to have additional income on top of their retirement income.”

Many retired Airbnb hosts are empty-nesters, some with big empty nests. And senior hosts also enjoy the company.

“My mom is an Airbnb host in Cleveland, Ohio,” Burns said, “and she really enjoys meeting new people from around the world, and the little bit of income she earns supplements her retirement income and Social Security.”

Airbnb says about two-thirds of senior hosts in the D.C. area are women.

Among the top 15 neighborhoods with senior hosts in the Washington metro area, 10 are in the District.

Friendship Heights has the largest concentration of retired Airbnb hosts, at 33 percent of all listings. Takoma Park and Chevy Chase, Maryland, also rank high, as do Chevy Chase, D.C. and Silver Spring.

While Airbnb generates income for its hosts – seniors and otherwise – and provides affordable lodging alternatives for travelers, its business model has also raised questions about its hosts’ compliance with regulations.

Arlington County is the latest local jurisdiction that may consider rules to regulate Airbnb rentals.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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