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As NYC rents rise, some ask if Airbnb is to blame

Airbnb's unintended consequences
Airbnb's unintended consequences

As Airbnb's valuation exceeds $25 billion, local governments and landlords are scrambling to figure out the answer to one question: Is the home sharing platform is a friend or foe?

Three large residential landlords have recently held talks with Airbnb, in an effort to see if they can share the revenue with their tenants when they use the service to rent their homes and apartments.

If the deal works out, companies like Equity Residential, AvalonBay Communities Inc and Camden Property Trust could generate more revenue, while Airbnb's expands its ability to grow users and revenue. But most landlords still are resisting any kind of partnership with the sub-leasing or "hoteling" service.

Meanwhile, apartment rent is rising fast. According to StreetEasy, a typical New York household will pay 65% of its total annual income to afford the median rent next year, up from 59% this year.

As rent rises and Airbnb grows, there could be a correlation. Renters might be willing to pay more under the assumption that they can rent out their homes when they are away, helping to supplement their costs.

" 'The Airbnb effect' artificially pushes rents up in the market and unbeknownst to landlords," Neeta Mulgaokar, a real estate agent with Mirador Real Estate told CNBC.

"This pushes the average price per unit up for everyone else, while one person is simply profiting without the landlord's consent," she added.

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As far as the pushback from landlords, Mulgaokar said she asks nearly all of her prospective renters if they plan on putting their home on Airbnb. If they sound like they might, she advises strongly against it and reminds them about most landlords' policies that forbid the practice.

Airbnb did not return comment to CNBC.

Landlords are concerned about the added liabilities that come from more traffic in and out of their properties, and in some cases they've fined tenants using Airbnb for as much as $20,000. Other landlords have started to use digital lock systems and surveillance cameras to cut down on Airbnb activity.

"It's a risk all landlords face," Mulgaokar said. "The hardest part is that now people are 'hoteling' their properties without their knowledge."