Holiday rentals and the right to housing: rethinking social justice in the tourist city

The use of holiday rentals has remarkably grown in the last years, especially after the creation of Airbnb in 2008. The fact that visitors increasingly consume housing as a form of tourist accommodation is generating a social debate in several cities. Commentators have highlighted that the most palpable impacts of holiday rentals are a shortage in the housing market and a consequent price increase, which escalate the housing crisis that is currently being experienced in a number of places. This view challenges the rhetoric of the ‘sharing economy’ which suggests, instead, that holiday rentals are supplied by families and individuals that rent a spare room in the homes in which they live. Despite the growth of the phenomenon, there is a lack of both empirical and theoretical analyses that shed light on the way in which holiday rentals affect the housing market as well as how they are produced and consumed.

This panel invites papers that can contribute to a broader understanding of holiday rentals and that, in turn, place tourism at the centre of critical urban theory. Special attention will be given to the way in which holiday rentals affect housing supply and affordability as well as how they change housing markets through investment and financialization practices. Research that focuses on the role of holiday rentals in the transformation of consumption and mobility practices is also welcome. The panel also proposes to explore the key challenges that holiday rentals pose to public policy and the role played by public actors in the regulation of private transnational corporations. Some of the research questions we seek to address in this panel are:

  • What are the impacts of holiday rentals in the housing market and how do they change investment dynamics?
  • Who are the suppliers and consumers of holiday rentals?
  • How are national, regional and local governments responding to the new urban dynamics boosted by blossoming holiday rentals?
  • Which types of regulations are being (or should be) implemented?
  • What are the methodological challenges that holiday rentals pose to research?
  • What are the theoretical challenges that holiday rentals pose for urban critical theory?


Agustin Cocola-Gant, University of Lisbon

Ismael Yrigoy, Independent researcher