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Airbnb dominated by professional landlords (dw.com)
212 points by frgtpsswrdlame on Aug 6, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 348 comments

Look, we have a couple problems: low interest rates, large variance in productivity / earnings, really shitty hotels because they're operating on old-world assumptions.

One under appreciated thing about apps like Uber and AirBnb is the star rating system. I know I'm a five star tenant. I know I never shit in the sink. I know I never leave a bunch of condoms or cigar butts all over the balcony or hotel room. But the hotel doesn't know that. They need to steam clean the sheets and install super-fat-person-proof toilets. And elevators for the disabled. And a hotel room with a stove and usable fridge? Hah! Only two times have I had that and one was in a room that cost $10k a week (don't ask, I was the +1).

Then it comes to AirBnb and global housing stock. Someone like me who is currently in Kiev in an AirBnb is always going to be able to out-spend a local. The key is to align incentives. I literally would not have come to Kiev if they'd banned AirBnb. I would have gone back to Lithuania (love Vilnius) or to Turkey or Estonia. With the drive to pull in tourist money going on worldwide why should cities ban AirBnb (or Uber for that matter)?

"Because it's driving up rents!"

Ok, so let's solve that problem. I have no issue with cities imposing a 30% tax on AirBnbs and using the income to build up the housing stock for locals. They should do this, it makes perfect sense.

"Because AirBnbers are loud and disruptive!"

Make hosts responsible for noise complaint fines and pretty quick loud tenants are going to get bad ratings.

"Because I want community, not a bunch of transient AirBnbers that don't even speak the local language!"

If it is getting really, really bad, (say 20% or higher of housing stock in a community) maybe scale up the taxes to combat this. But let's not miss the positives either. I've met a number of cool people both hosting them in my place just before traveling or by interacting with them in areas I never would have been in had I been staying in a hotel.

Don't throw out the baby with the bath water and all that.

Airbnb is one of those rare products that cracked open an entire world of possibilities for me. For the first time, I've gotten the chance to live as a local all around the world, for even less money than at a hotel or sometimes even a hostel. Ordinary folks just didn't travel like this in the past, getting to know distant cities right from the ground floor. Adjustments should be made on a city-to-city basis, but you can't put the genie back in the bottle. The rewards are just too sweet!

(For the record, I've mostly stayed in shared accommodations, since entire apartment rentals are very expensive for prolonged travel. It seems people are mostly OK with this side of Airbnb.)

> Ordinary folks just didn't travel like this in the past, getting to know distant cities right from the ground floor.

Not quite true. In 2005, I did a long road trip in Italy. In that year, in almost every gas station in Italy, you could buy books with listings of local B&B's and "agriturismo" locales, which were essentially B&B's that were on farms and usually included a farm dinner with the hosting family, in addition to breakfast and accommodations. The cost to stay in these places was always a fraction of the hotel. It was a little inconvenient to use them though: you needed the books, and then you needed to dial the owners and ask if their place was available ahead of your arrival.

You can imagine why this market exists in Italy: the hotels in every city are geared toward tourists (thus, lots of $$$) but Italians have such a beautiful (and geographically small) country, and they needed a way to do local tourism at affordable prices. I imagine the fact that you needed to call the owners (and speak Italian to them) acted as a barrier against tourists.

I am a huge fan of Airbnb. I point this out, however, because I always personally viewed Airbnb less as an "improvement over hotel travel", and instead as a "platform that brought efficiency to the B&B market".

Basically, B&Bs were a great way to travel, but most people didn't hassle to do so, because inventory/availability was too hard to scan, and it usually required at least a little local knowledge.

In 2005, if you had done a road trip through Italy like I had, while seeing the kinds of transactions going online, you could have put 2 and 2 together and realized this needed to exist as an international service. But, even I didn't see it, then!

AirBnB is significantly different from those B&Bs in that with B&Bs, you had to interact with the family, that family may have scrutinized your coming and going, and you had to eat their food which may have been inferior to other local dining options. Now that AirBnB is dominated by people renting out a flat that they themselves don’t live in, your only interaction with the owner is just picking up the keys (and a lot of AirBnB hosts you never actually see, since they leave the keys somewhere for you to pick up).

I love staying in various cities for prolonged amounts of time and soaking up local culture, but I definitely don’t want to be forced to interact with the proprietors. I’d rather just get out into the city and interact with the people I choose. There is a lot more privacy and choice involved in AirBnB, which is essential to enjoyable travels.

> You can imagine why this market exists in Italy: the hotels in every city are geared toward tourists (thus, lots of $$$) but Italians have such a beautiful (and geographically small) country, and they needed a way to do local tourism at affordable prices. I imagine the fact that you needed to call the owners (and speak Italian to them) acted as a barrier against tourists.

That makes no sense. Of course Italians stay in hotels, and there are one-star hotels for those traveling on a budget, and hostels for young people, same as in any country. B&Bs were introduced later, as an even cheaper option. In Italy they are literally called "bed and breakfast", in English, because they are not a local invention: they were borrowed from the impoverished and benighted country known as the UK.

The agriturismi were not invented as a way to keep tourists out: you may notice that they have "tourism" right in the name. Quite the opposite: owners of small farms were seeking a new revenue stream, and took advantage of the fact that the Italian countryside is quite attractive in its own right. Think hills with small farms, villages, churches and castles, not miles and miles of corn. The idea was to visit the countryside itself, not to take a fifty miles detour to visit a city because the hotels are too expensive.

> In Italy they are literally called "bed and breakfast", in English, because they are not a local invention: they were borrowed from the impoverished and benighted country known as the UK.

I think they refer to these as "bed & breakfast" (in English) these days across EU countries, but back in 2005 when I traveled in Italy, that was not the term they used. They referred to them as "affittacamere", which translated literally means, "rooms for rent".

I never said that agriturismi (or B&Bs) were invented to keep tourists out.

I simply reflected on how it was an enjoyable mode of travel for local Italians visiting different parts of their own country, and also affordable. I remember how my own Italian family told me they never stayed in hotels when traveling through the country -- mainly due to cost, but also because it just didn't feel authentic to them.

As for the agriturismi themselves, they have their roots in state law in Italy; it's a special designation that, as you rightly point out, was meant to provide farm owners a new revenue stream. However, you may be surprised to learn that Italians themselves are often the customers. Usually cherished more for the opportunity to experience family style meals cooked from local ingredients than for the countryside views, but it's all part of the experience.

> Usually cherished more for the opportunity to experience family style meals cooked from local ingredients than for the countryside views

These people have their priorities straight.

I think the above poster means what you experienced in Italy on a global scale. That is, yes it already in a form in Italy, but now you can do that almost anywhere.

Your segment of the market is almost certainly a small one. In many cities where I've stayed in AirBnBs, whole-unit rentals dominated the listings, and these were always in touristy parts of town. As you'd expect, the "professionals" optimize by putting their listings in the parts of town with the heaviest tourist traffic.

AirBnB is one of those ideas that works fine at a small scale, but becomes pathological as it grows. There's no inconsistency in this observation. The backpacker tail of the market is small, and by definition, broke. As the idea pushes into the middle of the bell curve to reach scale, the offerings will become more like hotels.

I've used plenty of whole apartment airbnbs, and it's not the same as a hotel. As the OP said, you get a fridge/kitchen etc, and the host can trust you based on your rating.

I agree past a certain scale it can be troublesome. But I don't think it is like a hotel.

I think the market for shared accommodations will never be very big and the presence of an owner/tenant can keep neighbor-affecting bad behavior in check.

Speaking as someone who is experiencing the implications of a super low rental vacancy rate, I think most people in my situation are with me when we say shut it down, entirely, in any city with a low tenancy vacancy rate. It's hurting society at large to the benefit of a precious few.

I think most people in my situation are with me when we say shut it down, entirely, in any city with a low tenancy vacancy rate. It's hurting society at large to the benefit of a precious few.

You know, I've heard about some crazy cutting-edge technologies like steel frames and elevators that can allow us to raise the vacancy rate by increasing the total number of usable units in a given metro area.

We might need to consider not all cities are made to be tall. You cannot make Lisbon or Vienna go tall, otherwise it's not Lisbon or Vienna anymore... Also, it's silly to move local residents to the outskirts to have tourists right in the city center as tourists don't have to commute on a daily basis, they can be away from the center, it's perfectly fine for them.

Even steel frames are unnecessary in a lot of cities with a housing shortage. A cheaper wood frame can get you up to 5 stories at a fraction of the cost. I'd say a bigger problem is local low-density zoning restrictions, where it's legally prohibited to build more than one or two units per lot.

"Everything must be like a commieblock!"

Well I'm in your situation, and I disagree. Under the current socioeconomic system and pricing I'll likely never afford to own where I live, but things which make house pricing more efficient aren't the enemy.

I'd kill stamp duty (uk tax on buying/selling properties), push for higher urban density, push for wealth taxes because there are underlying problems, trying to bluntly manipulate the market doesn't generally have great outcomes.

> "I have no issue with cities imposing a 30% tax on AirBnbs and using the income to build up the housing stock for locals. They should do this, it makes perfect sense."

The problem is that USA is a capitalist country and allows markets to dictate the supply and demand in housing. Look at San Francisco -- the locals have been displaced by techies who can pay as much rent as landlords demand (sometimes even 50% increase in rent over a couple of years). do we have any solution for this kind of problem? I don't think so.

This sort of sentiment is just absolutely outrageously incorrect. Go and look at any proper study or report on house prices, and you will find who it exception that it is land use regulations that are responsible. Sam Francisco is a prime example, though I could just as easily cite London or Auckland. The supply of housing is restricted by tight land use regulations, and so of course the prices go up. Anybody who wants to blame free markets for the obvious, foreseeable effects of regulation is clearly blinded by ideology.

Yes we do, it's called building denser.

The problem is that there are already regulations, but AirBnBs are skirting them.

Right and Obama's DOJ doesn't prosecute racketeers, they promote them.



Uh, you're about eight months late on that criticism...

Put me in the camp that's very anti-AirBnB as a resident who doesn't want where I lived turned into a hotel. I live in NYC. It's a problem.

None of this is a surprise, so much so that AirBnB seems to be aware of this and is acting in a way that's, at best, ethically challenged and, at worst, illegal eg deleting listings before giving data to the state of NY that "shows" most hosts only have one unit [1].

If people want to run a hotel, there's a legal structure for this. And zoning. Go do that. I personally applaud efforts to shut down illegal hotels.

[1] https://ny.curbed.com/2016/2/25/11110594/airbnb-letter-state...

Put me in the camp that's very anti-AirBnB as a resident who doesn't want where I lived turned into a hotel. I live in NYC. It's a problem.

The real problem here is not Airbnb, which is a symptom; it's zoning, which forbids market-clearing prices and a sufficient number of units to satisfy demand for living in and visiting the city.

For more on this, see e.g. Matt Yglesias's The Rent is Too Damn High: https://www.amazon.com/Rent-Too-Damn-High-Matters-ebook/dp/B... .

When we have sane zoning, we'll have sane prices. Today there was an NYT opinion piece that comes at the issue from a racial angle: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/03/opinion/sunday/zoning-law... but I don't think we even need the racial angle; we can come at it from a position of fundamental justice and human flourishing.

>"The real problem here is not Airbnb, which is a symptom; it's zoning, which forbids market-clearing prices and a sufficient number of units to satisfy demand for living in and visiting the city."

Maybe you haven't been to NYC in a while? This is not the case at all. New York City has undergone a hotel boom over the last 7-8 years, so much so that it has actually driven down the price of hotels:

See: https://ny.curbed.com/2016/4/20/11471644/new-york-city-hotel...



Zoning a problems in NYC? The amount of condos and pace of real-estate development in NYC is head spinning. I can't think of another city that is more developer friendly. In fact developers have even been entitled to tax subsidies for their efforts. See:


There is no hotel zoning that any city would come up with that would allow for the creation of one-room hotels in the middle of condo and apartment buildings.

Sure, but Airbnb is (from one angle) just a weird and hacky way of adding more hotel rooms to a city's supply. Zoning that permitted more and taller hotels could meet demand with fewer negative externalities.

Similarly, relaxed zoning for residential buildings could lower the size of the effect on the housing market when a unit is converted to Airbnb use.

You're fleeing to abstraction. I'm making a simple point, derived from the specific complaint that my NYC friends have about Airbnb: there is no plausible change to hotel regulation that would ever allow people to open up single-room hotels in apartment and condo buildings.

Sure. There is a plausible change that would remove the impetus to do so. I don't think anyone is suggesting that zoning should endorse Airbnb-style "hotels," but that maybe it should fix the underlying problems instead of just patching the loophole.

That's a false dilemma. The problem we're discussing here is easily fixed by making short-term rentals in apartment and condo buildings unlawful, which is probably what will end up happening. There's nothing that says that can't happen independent of any other regulatory changes.

The problem we're discussing here is easily fixed by making short-term rentals in apartment and condo buildings unlawful

This is already the case in NYC. What's needed is enforcement.

Perhaps through the use of a RICO action with wire fraud predicates against Airbnb and its principals. Taking money in exchange for a room that the company knows or should know is not legally available may well constitute "obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, or omitted facts."

As a New Yorker who has recently considered buying an apartment in Queens, short-term rental prohibition isn't a law I want.

A NYC apartment would be my biggest financial commitment, and not having help with the mortgage from a subleter when I elect to travel at any point over the next 30 years is a crippling constraint.

As I said it is already the law+. See MDL, Article 1, Sections 4-7, 4-8.

If that means that it no longer makes sense for you to buy an apartment then you probably shouldn't buy an apartment. I certainly wouldn't hold my breath on it being repealed. The law was recently amended to make advertising an illegal apartment rental itself illegal and subject to a fine.

+There is an exception if you are renting out only part of an apartment and you or a long term tenant will be present. Also, the situation for buildings with three or fewer units is more complicated.

Why should your neighbors help shoulder the cost of your financing your vacations with short-term renters?

How would they be?

By bearing the negative externalities of your short term rental? I lived above an NYC airbnb for a while, and of course it was always a noisy partying crew. Which of course makes sense because it's people on holiday/vacation renting on airbnb! But it's pretty disruptive to someone renting the next apartment who isn't on vacation.

What if you get a noisy neighbor who isn't an AirBnB guest, but lives there permanently? That seems worse. Do you have no recourse in that case?

Why wouldn't you have recourse in that case?

Because it's not illegal to make noise in your apartment? Noise ordinances typically have a high threshold and are a pain to get enforced, except maybe in really obvious cases like college-style parties.

Maybe you don't have a ton of legal recourse, but since they are a semi permanent neighbor you can just talk to them. Add opposed to someone that's just there for the weekend.

If someone is inconsiderate enough to make excessive noise on a sustained basis, why would they respond well to being confronted about it?

Remember, community and interaction among neighbors is maximized the countryside, high in sprawl, and barely existent in mid-rises, and zero in high-rises. The more your neighbors influence your quality of life, the less socially acceptable it is to interact with them (and the less likely you are to see them, since the primary means of interacting with neighbors is to spend time in your yard). There's not going to be a basis of mutual respect in a noisy urban apartment building like there would be on a block of single-family homes.

By paying higher rents because short term lets (at least on the airbnb model) inflate the rental market?

I'm not sure there's great evidence that zoning actually has positive outcomes, I remember reading long articles on how places with less zoning can often turn out better. American zoning has entrenched cars and made sterile neighbourhoods allegedly.

So it seems to me the sequence is:

   a) You have a decent city with reasonable rents
   b) AirBNB
   c) Same city with outrageous rents
   -- Choose either --
   d1) Now we have to change the building codes and 
   wait for the effect of the invisible hand to complete 
   the massive change to the city so that there is a huge 
   new housing stock at the same rents as before

   -- or Choose --
   d2) Now we have to ban AirBNB and have the city return 
    to its original reasonable state.
Forget for the moment the NYMBYist case for (d2). What about the tourist case? Is a tourist just as interested in the new form of the city with four additional new stories on every residential acre plus the increased grocery stores? What about the rest of the infrastructure that has to be built to support all this density? Is the open-minded local commuter going to want to continue to live in the (d1) environment as it grows more and more dense and commutes (on foot and by subway) grow worse and worse? Is this really "flourishing" or just the shortest path to a Blade Runner set with actual people?

> it's zoning, which forbids market-clearing prices and a sufficient number of units to satisfy demand for living in and visiting the city.

lol tourists and rich investors/other rich undesirables are ALWAYS going to outprice the lower and middle tiers, you need massive amounts of regulation to prevent rich-people-only city areas.

lol tourists and rich investors/other rich undesirables are ALWAYS going to outprice the lower and middle tiers, you need massive amounts of regulation to prevent rich-people-only city areas.

Really? Was that true in the 1970s or 80s? https://jakeseliger.com/2015/12/27/why-did-cities-freeze-in-... If not, what might have changed between then and now?

> If not, what might have changed between then and now?

I think that what we're seeing today is what happened back in '70, just in extreme overdrive.

Mainy caused, imho, by a massive explosion of the amount of money in circulation, which craves to be invested. Given that Yo could get 1.5M$ at 10M$ valuation, there's nothing better in the current ultra-low-interest environment than to invest the money in housing stock.

Also, the massive flow of capital from new-rich Chinese and Russians (which mainly affected London, but side flows also hit Berlin and Frankfurt) is a factor.

Massive transportation by cheap planes tickets, the internet with airbnb to list and rent the appartements, China tourism.

I think the 70s and 80s were anomalous. White flight caused many major US cities to take a big dip in population and wealth: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_flight

* Taxes on property reduced, turning it into a more desirable asset to hoard.

* Wealth inequality went through the wealth meaning more wealth seeking hoardable assets (bitcoin is also part of this phenomena, imo).

* Governments stopped building social housing, cutting off supply of new apartments.

Airbnb squeezing people out and low interest rates are symptoms of this phenomenon.

Cutting zoning restrictions is just what property developers like to blame it on because it acts as an impediment to them building more profitable luxury developments. For some reason people listen to them.

I'm not sure what regulations can keep the price down without having lots of weird scenarios and adverse effects. If you can then that's great but I haven't seen it work in practice yet. It makes more sense to me to try to increase the supply of housing

I do wonder what if there was a actual spot and contract market for housing like there is for DRAM, with zoning entirely unrestricted and free market.

solution to this issue is not using substitute company which will break laws instead of you, but voting for representatives who will change laws the way you want

apparently you are in minority if it's not happening and it doesn't justify breaking the law

In NYC here as well; I think AirBNB is a pox.

It's a great and useful product, I can't dispute that. But the economic ramifications of it outweigh the benefits by a large margin. And when you add on the unregulated latent racism (multiple reports, too lazy to cite) and the fact that there's next to zero safety checks in place for things like smoke detectors and so on, it's really sort of surprising that so many people defend it.

Because, like Uber, for customers it is a massive improvement over the alternative.

I am taking my family to Atlanta next week for my son's birthday. Using AirBNB (or equivalent service) saved me well over $1500 for the trip - we would have needed three hotel rooms but rented a house instead. As an added bonus, instead of all that money going to a large corporation, it will go to an individual.

The level of myopia here is staggering. The sharing economy is a tidal wave of economic change - mostly for good. You'd throw pebbles at it trying to stop it. It's both wrongheaded and comically pointless.

Because, like Uber, for customers it is a massive improvement over the alternative. ... The level of myopia here is staggering.

It is indeed. You, the host, and AirBnB are splitting the gains from ignoring laws designed to internalize externalities. Instead you celebrate privatizing benefits and pushing costs onto others. Yes, it benefits you in the short run. Most anti-social behavior does.

Do you teach your children that it is okay for a company to dump toxic waste in a river as long as they pass along some of the savings to their customers?

The externalities are... what exactly? Too much foot traffic to your door? That's hardly analogous to toxic waste dumping.

(Assuming you are talking about single room rather than whole home rentals. Whole home rentals certainly do have the toxic effect of lowering housing supply in cities starved for rentals).

The main externality is driving the price up and shrinking the pool of homes for actual residents who need to rent a place to live. This is already happening in some parts of the world. For example, people from Barcelona are starting to protest (see [1], and [2] by the way. In Spanish, sorry!). In my city, Málaga, it's starting to happen as well. I personally know a person who had to move out because the landlord wanted to use their flat for Airbnb.

[1] https://cincodias.elpais.com/cincodias/2017/08/03/companias/...

[2] http://www.lavanguardia.com/local/barcelona/20170626/4237071...

I don't think that you can actually call increasing property prices a negative externality. It's a natural consequence of making that tourism more efficient. It's like someone invented a way to turn fruit into gold and you're complaining that it drives the price of fruit up. Well, OK that has some bad effects but they're almost by definition (like, how economics works) less than the positive effects of now having more gold.

That is very much a rich person's answer. It's certainly "more efficient" for the wealthy if they can drive poorer people from their homes when the rich find it convenient. But that's not what it feels like if you're on the other end of it.

if the demand for property in an area grows, the poor is going to get priced out no matter what. Whether it's airbnb doing it, or some other factor (like tech investment money or something to such an effect).

The problem to solve isn't to stop airbnb from working, but to increase the opportunity for the poor to get out of poverty. Otherwise, the next airbnb-like disruption will cause the exact same problem for the poor.

What? If people who are currently housing-insecure started making more money, rents would rise accordingly.

There are always going to be people who can't afford to live somewhere (particularly major world cities attractive to tourists) and just above them, there are always going to be people barely afford to live somewhere.

We can and should lift the currently housing-insecure to comfortable homeownership, but just as many housing-insecure people will rise from the previously totally-priced-out to take their place.

There's no reason we can't do both.

That only works if everyone has equal bargaining power. In the fruit-gold machine world, sure the price of gold tanks, but as long as there are people willing to pay more for gold than others are able to pay for fruit, the poor can't eat fruit anymore. That's bad for them.

The free market doesn't do what's best for everyone, it weighs people by their ability to pay.

In most of the US, this is considered a great thing. The most populist thing you can do is help homeowners reap capital gains. There was no question, for example, that the federal government would have to act to re-inflate housing prices after 2008. The mortgage interest deduction is untouchable. Nearly all voters own real estate. You're only going to be subject to the rental market if you're a student or poor. Even the lower middle class (by definition, kind of) have a mortgage of some kind, and therefore benefit from rising property value.

It's not clear why "it drives up property prices" is a bad thing in the US, except in San Francisco and (maybe) New York where renters have a little bit of power.

Hmm, can your example really be called an externality? Real estate price rises as a reaction to the economic activity in question?

I'd say it fails the definition "cost or benefit that affects a party who did not choose to incur that cost or benefit", particularly at the part "party who did not choose to incur".

Finding prices higher in an area, when choosing to purchase or not purchase, doesn't match that IMO.

Do you think the grandparent poster is renting a single room when he takes his family to Atlanta next week? Also, what percentage of AirBnB revenue do you think comes from single room rentals?

Not really. I used to use AirBnB, but I went back to hotels. It's worth the extra money. Let me know how it works out for you and your family when you get there and the host is nowhere to be found and doesn't pick up his phone for 3 hours because he forgot, or you realize at 1am on a Saturday you forgot to take the key to the front door with you and there's nothing you can do about it until 10am, or afterwards when you get an angry 1 star review from the host because you left in a hurry to catch a flight and forgot to put a sheet in the dryer.

This has actually happened to me (host not there) but

a: we just booked a cheap shitty room for the night b: AirBnB responded well and ensured we were taken care of in terms of refunds/reviews c: it was partly our fault I think because we didn't contact them in the week before we turned up, in future I'd always double check and confirm the plan.

I had the same experience -- just did a mini-tour of Europe in March and, at every Airbnb, the host was MIA at a critical moment. Also, it was a major inconvenience that they typically had only one key and couldn't issue you others.

AirBnb has pushed down hotel room prices which makes going back to hotel rooms easier.

I mostly use AirBnb in Europe, and have had good experiences. If I'm in a place < 2 nights though, I'll do a hotel.

Wait... AirBnB hosts can require guests to "refresh" their own bedding before they leave?

Yes, I've seen before "please put sheets and towels in the washer and start before you leave" (as a tradeoff you get a reduced cleaning fee).

It's similar to what some hostels ask guests to do.

> As an added bonus, instead of all that money going to a large corporation, it will go to an individual.

Give it a couple of years and professional landlords using AirBNB will look no different to a corporation.

This person may have not given their money to an individual home owner. It could have been a landlord that operated several houses and acted like they are renting out thier home or vacation spot. It's really impossible to tell.

>"As an added bonus, instead of all that money going to a large corporation, it will go to an individual."

You realize that a "large corporation" employes lots of local people to maintain and operate that hotel right?

Those same local people who are employed by that "large corporation" all contribute a portion of their paycheck to local and state tax coffers.

Looking only from a customer's perspective and ignoring everything else is the only myopic statement I've seen in this discussion so far.

This isn't "sharing economy" anymore. The term was coined for what AirBnB and Uber may have originally been: lower transaction costs to capture the value of space/car seats that would otherwise go unused.

That idea got a warm welcome because it's almost universally good; Not just for those buying and selling, but producing positive externalities along the way: more car sharing means less traffic and lower emissions etc.

But what these businesses have turned into are marketplaces for exactly what they were trying to replace, i. e. Taxis and hotels. The difference that remains is just a different allocation along several zero-sum trade-offs. Uber changed the bargain for taxi rides, essentially taking money from the top and bottom of society, and giving it to the middle. The 1% are subsidising your taxi rides with their investments, and the pool of drivers is fast approaching to be the same people who would usually drive taxis. Only now their pay is 25% lower, and they no longer have health insurance and other benefits.

With AirBnB, the deal they offer is also just a different trade-off. In this case, the customers themselves also bear some of the downsides of the cheap price, although they may not notice. If you always wanted to safe 50 cents/night on your hotel bill because you thought that smoke alarms or secondary emergency exits are luxuries, AirBnB is your friend. The other losers are, unfortunately, almost exclusively people who aren't part of these transactions: the neighbours who get to experience the downsides of having budget-conscious traveler having the time of their lives next door. Or those who can't find affordable homes because parts of the market have been diverted to tourism (where a hotel is usually significantly more space-effective than apartments).

In both cases, these companies are making decisions that were traditionally reserved for the political sphere. Politics is the process of balancing competing interests, with mechanisms to reach equitable outcomes in a process that sometimes fails to, but at least aspires to, being fair and transparent.

It's good to see politicians reasserting their power with all the legitimacy the process to elect them brings vis-a-vis these companies trying to ride the wave of cynicism to a big payday. Because all the allure of AirBnB's and Uber's PR strategy rests on this libertarian fairytale of "regulatory strangulation", i. e. the phenomenon that it's en vogue to decry some unknown "regulations", without ever naming any specific safety rules that are supposedly unnecessary. Or to ridicule some specific rule, but without investing the minimum of time to see why people, after reviewing all the information available, may have come up with them.

There may certainly be some regulations that should be eased. In fact, it's almost a given that for any rule or law, you can make a credible case to change it in either direction: if it takes 100,000 smoke detectors to save one life per year, and if they cost $20 each per year, putting them into every room only makes sense if you value a life at more than $2,000,000. And you can argue about the 2 million, or the price (will they get cheaper or more expensive if we require them?), or the number of lives saved. But you can't credibly say "OMG the government is stoopid".

And before people say they want these decisions to be made by the people involved, i. e. for AirBnB to have "has smoke detectors" on their listing: it is almost always cheaper to centralise such decision making. It'd be a waste of time if every guest had to check the smoke detectors' batteries individually, and certify that they actually do detect smoke, and that their batteries do not spontaneously start burning themselves every now and then etc.

Only now their pay is 25% lower, and they no longer have health insurance and other benefits.

They never did. Taxi drivers were, and are, considered contractors, and have no benefits[1]. Also, not only did they earn little already, as they had to pay upfront to work, by renting the medallion from lovely people like Gene Freidman[2] - and the rates were already up to $85 per 12-hour shift back in '93.

Just read this NYT report of the life of NYC cab drivers, back in the "glorious" pre-Uber days: http://www.nytimes.com/1995/04/09/nyregion/driving-a-taxi-di...

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/10/29/labor...

[2] http://nypost.com/2017/06/07/taxi-king-arrested-for-scamming...

>The difference that remains is just a different allocation along several zero-sum trade-offs.

I have to disagree with that. Perhaps that is likely the case in cities, but more broadly you're wrong. The pie has gotten much, much bigger.

There was no pie where I live and now there is. Across much of the country in smaller cities and towns were you couldn't get a cab, you can now get an uber.

"But what these businesses have turned into are marketplaces for exactly what they were trying to replace" I suggest you actually go and talk to a few Uber/Lyft drivers. Most of the ones I talked to are not your usual taxi drivers. Many of them do it part time for the flexibility and have other interesting activities while not driving.

That's highly regional. Most of the time I've gotten uber in the city, they've been full time drivers.

In big cities it seems like there are more full-time drivers, but my experience out here in Cincinnati, Ohio (with a population of ~300k in the city and 2.2M in the metropolitan area) we have mostly part-time drivers.

> Using AirBNB (or equivalent service) saved me well over $1500 for the trip - we would have needed three hotel rooms but rented a house instead.

Travel and entertainment is not one of life's necessities. It doesn't outweigh the negative impact of airbnb.

> As an added bonus, instead of all that money going to a large corporation, it will go to an individual.

Why in the world does that matter at all? Are you saying that you have not received any upside from interacting over the years with 'a large corporation'? And that they have no value? Or that you think it just makes you a better person because your money went to an individual as if you have just donated to a person or charity in need?

>re: travel and entertainment is not one of life's necessities

neither are steak, chicken, lobster, toilet paper, SUVs, TVs, rockets to space, streaming movies, fireworks...

and yet the production and consumption of these things carry personal and societal risks.

who are we to judge, unfortunately?

>re: have not received any value from a large corporation?

I think what the poster is saying there is that he receives value from smaller individual landlords and from large corporations-

-but that they would prefer if it went to individual landlords because they might be a better steward to the community than a corporation

> toilet paper

I'd like to dispute that one. Hygiene is certainly one of life's necessities if we want to share this planet with 7 billion other people.

Haha yeah I agree too, but there are a lot of ways to clean yourself adequately and safely without specifically using toilet paper.

Some ways that come to mind include pressurized water, sanitary wipes, other ways that could result in a physical and bacterial clean etc

Western toilet paper is just but one way to achieve hygiene and could therefore be considered replaceable by something else

> Travel and entertainment is not one of life's necessities.

They're in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

> > Article 13.

> > (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.

> > (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

> > Article 24.

> > Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

> > Article 27.

> (1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.

> (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

> The level of myopia here is staggering.

Yes, it really is. /s

And what will you do to stop that individual from spending their 'saved' money on big corporations?

As with Uber, what began as an interesting tool rapidly became another "death star" to be dreaded.

Why is it a problem, or what problems has it been causing in NYC? I understand the legality is questionable but I don't know why the laws exist in the first place.

It converts long term housing stock into short term housing, which benefits tourists with cheaper prices and increases the price for residents since both are competing for the same units. Basically, tourists are getting a free ride on the backs of residents. Its always been the other way around, tourists pay extra taxes and fees which go back to the city (and residents) and entrepreneurs build hotels which once again benefit the city (and residents). Can't think of many arguments where tourists should be given cheaper housing rights over residents.

The economic response to this (and I'm not saying I agree...I don't have a horse in this race either way) is that a tourist's willingness to pay for accommodation exceeds a resident's, and so they should get the apartment. And the apartment owner can turn around and capture this surplus by renting out their accommodations to tourists on AirBnB. The market price for housing is artificially low in most municipalities because the market is limited to people within geographical range of the apartment; open that market up globally and you'll find a vacationer who values it more than any resident does, and so the resident can capture the surplus to renting it to the vacationer.

The neat property of this business model is that it's actually viral: the way to avoid getting screwed by AirBnBers next door is to rent your place out on AirBnB too, and then go stay in somebody else's AirBnB.

It can be interesting to try and consider the endgame of various startups' business models, basically what the world would look like if the economic inefficiency they exploit is arbitraged away entirely. YCombinator is a world where everyone is an entrepreneur, but the returns to entrepreneurship aren't much better than having a regular job, and everybody works much harder. Google is "information wants to be free", where everybody has full access to information and the market price of that is zero. Napster was that nobody would produce art or music; Facebook is that all socializing occurs online; Uber/DoorDash/PostMates and other sharing economy startups create a caste society where those without technical skills serve those who do. AirBnB's endgame is the destruction of the concept of residency. If they succeed in their mission and arbitrage away all inefficiencies in the housing market, they effectively institutionalize the digital nomad lifestyle, where everybody can live and work anywhere in the globe, and yet never has a permanent home.

I'll let other people judge whether that's a good or bad thing. To me, most social institutions are pretty arbitrary anyway, and I have confidence I could adapt to whatever world comes next. I'll say that they're riding a really powerful trend that's independent of any one corporation or individual: the Internet has made nearly all markets global, and so the idea of being tied to a particular place is becoming increasingly quaint for many people.

Most of the population is in the bucket that will be harmed by high housing prices, won't ever be able to derive any benefit from owning additional housing for rent, and will only occasionally if at all benefit from cheaper vacation rentals.

The people who will benefit most are the top 10% will will ultimately own most everything and can afford the hotel fare.

In short, screw them.

>"The economic response to this (and I'm not saying I agree...I don't have a horse in this race either way) is that a tourist's willingness to pay for accommodation exceeds a resident's, and so they should get the apartment.

This in my opinion encapsulates exactly what is wrong with evaluating a complex issue like housing in purely transactional terms. Do cities and their residents have no responsibility to each other beyond "capturing a surplus"?

Certainly what makes their neighborhood interesting and by extension desirable in the first place wasn't the product of purse economics was it? A hotel district where guests stay in apartments formerly occupied by residents doesn't sound like a very interesting or inspiring place.

A society where only a select few own property? I believe Europe tried that for 100's of years. I doubt you'd find many people willing to go back to serfdom.

I didn't say that - AirBnB's model is agnostic about who actually owns the property, since as far as the platform is concerned, you can AirBnB out a property that you're renting. (The landlord might not like it, but that's for you and the landlord to work out.) Many people are both hosts and guests on AirBnB: they own one or a few properties that they rent out for income, and they use the income to live where they really want to live, in other people's AirBnBs.

The idea of mainstream property ownership is dying in America for different reasons, notably easy access to credit and poor financial education of the masses.

What AirBnB offers is a decoupling of "location" and "residency". The post-war dream was the idea that you'd put down roots at the place where you are physically located: you would think of yourself as a resident and a citizen of the municipality and nation whose borders encompassed your home, you would have a home that you would live in for many years and make improvements to for the long term, and you'd put down deep social ties with the people closest to you. The post-millenial dream, for many people, is that you would live anywhere that strikes your fancy, you would meet lots of interesting strangers who would become your friends, and you would have a lot of interesting experiences rather than just the same monotonous daily life. AirBnB is tapping into the post-millenial dream; they don't exist in a vacuum, they exist because a large number of people actually want the world to be that way.

There is this thing called a stock market.

And? You'll have to elaborate.

Land is not the only kind of investment property anymore, and can be bought by companies that trade on the stock market.

Also nomadic societies haven't faired too well either.

That's not the full economic response. The tourist pays tax for n days a year. The resident does so as well as additional taxes which make the whole city possible.

How have we gotten this so backwards?

In a sense, both the host and the guest pay "tax" to AirBnB, in the form of service fees. These fees are then used to provide many of the services that governments have traditionally provided - regulation of commerce, payment processing, dispute resolution, insurance against bad events.

I'd agree that we need some sort of theory of checks & balances for these new global corporate actors. People seem to have reacted to the dysfunction of governments by creating new quasi-governmental actors, but without realizing they've done so.

Indeed interesting to think about the end game. Let's suppose the Airbnb's end game is desirable for the society. But the process of getting there means a lot of people who love their home have to move away because the location is highly desirable for tourists. Is that fair to these people? If not, maybe we should aim for a different end game.

Here we run up against the fact that the world is a far more cruel place than most people would like to admit. Is it fair to these people? No. Do I like it? No. Is it going to happen anyway? Probably.

It's worth remembering the history of people who love their home but had to move away because some other people loved it more. Those folks who are so attached to the downtown apartments they can't afford anymore? Their neighborhoods became desirable because of a variety of urban renewal projects that largely worked by eminent-domaining & bulldozing lots of poor, mostly black neighborhoods. The original inhabitants - who after the Civil Rights movement were actually excited that they might be treated as first-class citizens - had their communities eviscerated, and still haven't recovered.

And then if you go back further, all of America is founded on the genocide and conquest of the Native Americans, many of whom loved their home and had to move away because the location was highly desirable for settlers.

And if you go back further, many of those tribes themselves stole territory from other more peaceful tribes. The Comanche and Aztecs, for example, practiced slavery and human sacrifice for rival tribes captured in warfare.

You could look at this as part of a long chain of humans kicking out other humans whose lands they covet. In the grand scheme of things, it's actually rather polite, as the original owners are being paid for the use of their properties and aren't even giving them up.

If a neighborhood catered only to tourists and Airbnb visitors it would slowly turn into Times Square (NY) or Union Square (SF). This would not be a stationary equilibrium.

This is spot on. Also having a hotel next door is easy to spot when you are looking for a new place.

I think Airbnb is a good idea with regulation that limits the number of weeks you can rent out your place.

I believe this is how it works in SF already, something like one can host up to 90 days per year with them not present. I don't think there's a limit if they are present.

I remember NY housing prices were not so friendly way before Airbnb. In fact, a number of sitcoms set in New York feature the topic prominently. Is there any data that Airbnb made the problem substantially worse?

Housing is a disaster in every major city and price have been going up almost 10% a year for a while. AirBnb hardly has any influence on that.

Montreal is amazing, actually.

Thanks, universally-slandered rent-control! Living in this city makes me realize how cargo-culty a lot of HN economics is.

A lot of cities have or had rent control, usually with disastrous results. What makes Montreal different (non-rhetorical question)?

idk, I don't study the topic in-depth.

However, I live here, and it's incredible. Every time some economist (or, worse, economics enthusiast) makes a ludicrous claim like "rent control is objectively and universally agreed upon to be bad" I just laugh. Montreal routinely ranks as one of the best cities in the planet (and I agree with that assessment), so clearly it's not as black-and-white as it's made seem.

The big problem here is really market distortions caused by zoning: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14942019

Exactly. And to further your point (in case it's not clear) tenants renting out on airbnb allows landlords to increase rent at the inconvenience of the tenant. So if a landlord allows this and the tenant gets extra income part of that extra income is passed on to the landlord as extra rent or the tenant finds a rent increase acceptable if they are able to rent out their unit.

All the sibling comments as of this writing are about the effects on long term rent prices. But I think the bigger issue is the effect on neighbors, especially but not exclusively, in-building neighbors.

Being in a rental building that's all people with at least one year leases is different from being in a building where a third of units are hotel rooms. It'd be one thing if the landlord had chosen to have that kind of mixed building and let renters know up front. But in a lot cases it is being done without the permission of the landlord and in every case it is being done without disclosure.

At the block level, living on a block with residential housing is different from living on a block with four hotels. I'm in favor of loosening zoning rules, but as long as they exist we shouldn't reward people for breaking them. Not only does that encourage other anti-social behavior it also reduces the pressure to reform the laws.

Because it further reduces the number of homes available for people to actually live (which is why we have zoning laws), which inflates rent/housing prices. This forces the bottom rung out of the city, because they can't afford to live there, and now minimum wage jobs (which we need to run the services people want) can't be filled, artists and musicians disappear, and the city becomes a place only for tourists and the wealthy.

Not only that, but AirBnB prices for "whole apartment/house" listings are often not less than the price of a decent hotel room in the area! This makes them worse than useless in my view, except possibly for getting a last-minute accommodation.

I don't use either hotels or AirBnB very often, but I have young kids, so when we do travel whole house is significantly preferable to a hotel. Kitchen facilities, washing machine, fridge, freezer are all things that are indispensable with young children and not that common in hotels. Hence AirBnB is usually what we end up with, even if it's more expensive.

Also, 2 bedrooms. 1 single shared family room for 4 means we have to go to bed with the kids at 7pm. Yeah some hotels have those interconnected room things, but until you see it for yourself it's hard to know things like is the door handle in the second room high enough that the kids can't reach it and get out into the hall in the middle of the night.

Ever used RVShare? It's pretty cool to rent an RV at/near the destination, good combo of included amenities and mobility, don't have to be a neighborhood disrupter if you stay at a camp ground/state or national park, etc. Clearly not a viable alternative for all vacation lodgings, but a nice alternative where it suits you're needs.

I like the idea, but it seems there are almost none available in my area unfortunately (UK).

I'll keep it in mind though. Thanks.

A whole apartment/house does have some amenities that aren't in a decent hotel, though. Like a kitchen. Or enough beds for a group of 5. I appreciate those when traveling on a budget and/or with my family. - Airbnb employee.

Of course, a hotel also has some amenities that an AirBNB rental does not, like cleaning up after you. But the price difference is often large enough that I'm willing to do my own laundry.

Extended stay hotels will offer rooms with a kitchens, and can accommodate a family of 5, maybe just not for a price you like.

Just be honest and say you like it cause its cheaper and you think your vacation is more important than the needs of residents.

I and many others use Airbnb for business travel (sole proprietorship or small non-profit in my case), because only by being able to cook my own food I can afford to make a week-long trip that may or may not pay off later. Comments like yours (and there are many in this thread, not to single you out) are a bit rude and ignore that many travelers are there for economic survival, not to blow money shopping and puke on the steps.

That has not been my experience. Extended stay hotels do offer kitchens, but they are almost universally still studio units. Outside of the condominiums available in true vacation-only destinations (Maui, Vail, etc.) rental accommodation seems to be built to meet the needs of business travelers, and family travel is largely ignored.

AirBNB clearly identified a market under-served by the existing hotel industry.

Extended stay hotels require an extended stay, don't they? It's been 45 years since I stayed in a single place for 30 days while on vacation.

And please let's keep this civil.

To be frank, with the way that the company you choose to work for harms neighborhoods like mine, the level of civility he's extended you is probably more than you've earned. I wouldn't have been so kind.

And extended-stay hotels accept any length of reservation.

No, extended stay places do not require an extended stay. They are just equipped to provide for an extended stay should you choose to do so.

Did you know hotels take up space that could be used for housing as well? It's crazy, but I looked it up and it's true. Using urban space for hotels, stores, and other amenities absolutely reduces the number of housing units thus potentially driving up prices for renters.

In fact, this is a major factor in urban planning. Assuming that this is unique to AirBNB is poorly thought out.

Right, but AirBnB ignores the zoning laws that were established as part of the urban planning of cities.

I think there are only a few cities, like NYC, where it creates a significant problem. Where it is a problem, laws and regulations should be enacted in response and companies like AirBnB should be cooperative.

Hotels tend to use space more efficiently. Most hotels are purpose built and maximise the number of rooms per building. If you convert residential buildings into hotels you'll end up with a less efficient use of this space.

> Because it further reduces the number of homes available for people to actually live (which is why we have zoning laws), which inflates rent/housing prices.

The argument that zoning laws reduce housing costs is backwards.

The only reason people want to convert long-term housing to short-term rentals is bad zoning that has led to a shortage (and thus high prices) of short-term rentals.

The solution to that, as is the solution to high housing costs in general, is to build more housing.

Which is the thing zoning laws stand in the way of.

>and the city becomes a place only for tourists and the wealthy

The city is becoming a place for tourists and the wealthy because tourists and the wealthy have decided they want to live in the city. AirBnB and rising prices more broadly are an effect of this, not a cause of it.

When people are willing to pay more to live somewhere, then prices there rise, and people that can't afford to pay those prices are forced to live somewhere else.

You can try to fight this by fighting the symptoms, like regulating AirBnB, or like Prop 13, and while you might advantage a few grandfathered-in homeowners, you're going to end up with negative externalities that will just screw over the poor even more.

How's that different than what's being going on NYC for the past 30 years or so? Gentrification is a thing, Airbnb or not.

It accelerates it by further decreasing housing supply. The housing problems of NYC are complex and challenging, and AirBNB is just a part of that.

These apps and startups and technology in general can certainly accelerate the shift from one status quo to a new one; AirBNB and Uber have disrupted hotel and taxi industries, certainly.

The question we should be asking, as a society, is the new status quo one we want? Is it making life better overall? Or is it one that only a few of us want, because they're getting rich while the rest of us are getting more hard done by?

If tech is pushing us to a new status quo, and it's one we want (like a lot of medical technology), then that's great, the societal conversation will be short: yes, we like it, let's go.

If the tech is pushing us to a new status quo that we don't want, that's when we need to reevaluate, and maybe regulate it.

It's definitely better for me at least. I can pretty much go live anywhere in the world and arrange accommodation in a few clicks - what's not to like?

Your response is almost a perfect description of the incentives that lead to the tragedy of the commons: "this is better for me, even if it's worse for society".

Here's a little video that explains it, for those that haven't yet heard of the tragedy of the commons:


The things people do when staying in an Airbnb are different than if they lived there as a resident.

Case in point, I rented one once to try it out. It was supposedly non smoking.

The entire place reeked of cigarettes. Upon complaining to the owner, she said she had clear rules but the previous guests had been over smoking, doing drugs, the stripper they brought over wrote all over the mirror in red lipstick, etc.

Now picture a situation where you live in a building that you picked because it seemed generally safe, quiet, etc. and seemed to have a certain kind of resident that you felt comfortable living with.

That all goes out the window when a significant chunk of your building becomes a nightly revolving door.

I'm not going to comment on the rent or housing issues. However there are plenty of reasons why people who live somewhere might be upset to see their building turn into such a place.

Don't know about NYC, but for one, it raises the rents, because hordes of tourists are more lucrative than locals renting long term.

What makes you think that?

The experience of it happening in certain places where I live.

Lots of nice places are now rented in AirBnB for what amounts to their old monthly rent but now asked for for a weekly rental or less.

That doesn't mean they are more lucrative.

Property can be empty half the time and Airbnb takes a massive commission on the earnings.

It must be more lucrative, because as this article said, Airbnb is dominated by professional landlords. If it wasn't more lucrative, those profession landlords would still be renting out long term instead of migrating to Airbnb.

"Professional landlords" doesn't even mean anything.

The landlords on AirBnb are a small fraction of all the landlords in the rental market.

It's entirely possible that there is a massive churn of properties. Landlord try AirBnb a few months and revert back to long term renting because it was much hassle and not as much profitable.

I for one, have noticed that.

>"Professional landlords" doesn't even mean anything.

It means people who rent whole units as a business, as opposed to persons renting a room in their house, or renting their home while they are away.

The fact that this happens, no.

But the fact that they are kept that way instead of reverting to regular residential renting means that they are indeed more lucrative.

>Put me in the camp that's very anti-AirBnB as a resident who doesn't want where I lived turned into a hotel. I live in NYC.

You're simply demonstrating NIMBYism. You get to stay in one of the most geographically desirable locations in the world and in order to pay lower rent you want to prevent others who live in much less geographically desirable places from renting units in your locale so that they can get to enjoy something you get to enjoy year round, for a few days of the year.

Who says it's only about rent? People who live in a place for only a few nights in general behave very different than where they live for a longer time.

I live in a > 100 year old building with bad acoustic insulation with 10 small apartments in it. For some time, the tenant above rented his apartment via AirBnB which was totally annoying and I'm really happy it stopped.

I'm mostly talking about loud noise in the middle of the night, disturbing all the other tenants. Be it coming home drunk at 4am and puking in the stair case, having lots of parties, shouting, door slamming, etc.

The disruptive behavior should be dealt with directly, in a manner that's agnostic to whether the person staying is a short term tenant, a long-term tenant, or a nonpaying guest of the owner, not by discriminating against short term tenancy based on a generalisation about the people who utilise it.

Also, from what I've seen, most opposition to Airbnb is motivated by its alleged effect on rental rates for long-term tenants, which is the least justifiable reason to oppose it in my opinion.

Or, maybe, he just want the people living on the other side of his bedroom wall to be some stable neighbors and not seeing someone new every three days.

Why is seeing someone new every three days an intrinsic wrong that we need to right with legislation?

Higher incidents of noise violations, higher trash output, there are a bunch of factors that make hotel guests / airbnb guests less desirable than a typical tenant.

The same could apply to gender, race, age, and occupation groups. I don't think it's good policy to create laws based on generalisations.

Wow, this is the worst comment I've read on this so far. You're saying that differences in extrinsic incentives (tennant vs. resident) should be treated the same as biological differences when discriminating between good and bad neighbors. Are you kidding?

The equivalent of your statement is saying that a licensed doctor and a stranger who claims to know what he's doing should both be able to perform surgery on you - because we wouldn't want to discriminate.

>You're saying that differences in extrinsic incentives (tennant vs. resident) should be treated the same as biological differences when discriminating between good and bad neighbors. Are you kidding?

Legal discrimination based on inborn traits, like race, gender or place of birth, is probably worse, because the targeted group can't change those traits, but both are bad because they discriminate against people based on generalisations about the group they belong to rather than a harmful action they engage in.

>The equivalent of your statement is saying that a licensed doctor and a stranger who claims to know what he's doing should both be able to perform surgery on you - because we wouldn't want to discriminate.

Well, first of all, it shouldn't be illegal for an unlicensed person to perform surgery. It's none of anyone else's business what two consenting adults agree to do together. But that aside, it's not the equivalent at all. The licensed doctor has qualifications that attest their medical knowledge.

Age (under 40) is not a protected class and something that is discriminated by for rental applications, for the same reasons as I listed.

Source: tried to rent an apartment in college.

Now you're just being obtuse on purpose.

Uh, no, all of the suburban neighborhoods and high-density urban buildings I've lived in have had move-ins and move-outs basically every week of the year. I've never enjoyed, nor felt the need for, low turnover among neighbors.

Possibly there are arguments that this is a right under certain circumstances (HOA, co-op, etc. agreements) but it's not obvious that low turnover among neighbors is a right in general.

Please don't take personal swipes at people.

Wow NIMBYISM extends to people who don't want to live in hotels now.

Extremely high rent would seem to be indicative of too few housing units turning some of them into hotels might not be the best thing for everyone.

Turning them into hotels reduces short term rental rates. If long term rental rates are extremely high, short term rental rates will be as well.

It's not NIMBYism because it sounds like that poster is generally against intermixing residential housing with hotels. Favoring separation of residential zones from commercial hotels is "not in anyone's backyard"...

Raising height limits and rezoning tourist areas for mixed-use is a better approach anyway - as a tourist, I use AirBNB because I can't afford the high priced hotels in popular NYC areas. I would vastly prefer staying in a proper hotel in the city, but it's too expensive (presumably because of limited supply)... the only happy person is the land lord who gets hotel revenue without hotel regulations.

>You're simply demonstrating NIMBYism.

I signed a 12 month rental agreement for an apartment in Reykjavik in 2015. About a month after I moved in, the apartment above me was sold to an ABnBer, and for the rest of the year I had a rotating troop of loud holidayers cycling through. I took to sleeping with earplugs every night, and still often was kept up until 1 or 2 on a weeknight. Needless to say, I moved the second the contract expired.

You can't persuade AirBnB users to give a shit about the noise they are causing, because they're going to be gone in 2 weeks. They don't care if the rest of the apartment hates them. It was toxic behavior that lowered the value of all the other apartments, and it harmed my quality of life quite severely.

But here's the important bit. This problem is not like someone buying a house near an airport and then complaining about the noise. Apartments become AirBnB rentals very suddenly, with no warning. There's nothing you can do to plan or defend against it, and it can happen to anyone. It's life ruining stuff, it harms your sleep, it harms your property investments, it increases your building maintenance costs and it increases your rental costs[1], and it happens randomly out of the blue.

It's an approach used by a lot of companies that I've started to think of as "societal strip mining". AirBnB is making it's money by offloading costs of business that it should rightfully pay itself to random other people around it, and pocketing the difference.

A newly created hotel in the middle of an otherwise quiet suburb would be required to soundproof it's premises and build parking under the site for it's customers. AirBnB apartments ignore soundproofing and create a system that encourages their customers to fight the locals for street parking (AirBnB customers usually win, because they're not on a 9-5 work schedule). It's no different to Uber saying "local regulations are not our problem, so we're not going to pay for cameras in Uber vehicles, and we're not going to safety check the vehicles every 3 months either. Whether our drivers do these things or not is between them and the government". BAM, fleet maintenance costs drop to zero, giving them a competitive edge against local taxi companies. Every now and again someone gets brutally raped or a car goes off a bridge as a result of pressuring their drivers to bypass regulations, but Uber isn't the one that has to pay.

I'm not impressed by this NIMBYism argument. AirBnB is taking the piss. They've had every opportunity to be a responsible business and work to support the tourism boom in Iceland in a positive manner, and instead they've made the lives of locals a lot harder and more expensive than it need be in the name of a quick buck. I for one will embrace with open arms any legislation which will shut them out of my city.

[1] 44% of Reykjaviks rental market is now listen on AirBnB, up from 23.5% 12 months ago, the average cost of rent has increase ~$1000USD per month in two years.

I can't for the life of me understand why you're being downvoted. Other than your clear opinions, your analysis is spot on. This sums it up:

> It's an approach used by a lot of companies that I've started to think of as "societal strip mining". AirBnB is making it's money by offloading costs of business that it should rightfully pay itself to random other people around it, and pocketing the difference.

How can anyone disagree with that? That paragraph is pretty obviously true _regardless_ of whether you like or dislike Airbnb. They are quite obviously taking advantage of the economic conditions (and lack of enforcement of many laws) and engaging in a form of indirect arbitrage of the housing stock. It makes perfect business sense and you may even think it's good, but doesn't make the quoted paragraph and less true.

I'm not sure exactly where I stand with this in the big picture, but quotes like "You're simply demonstrating NIMBYism." are as overly simplistic. You could just as easily say the users of Airbnb are "simply demonstrating selfishness" in their taking advantage of places _not_ meant to be hotels.

You've provided a well-thought-out, evidence-based response, but it seems people are disagreeing with the content.

I too agree that there are businesses out there that offload costs onto society. Some people use these services responsibly, enjoy a cost-savings, and will usually ardently defend the merits of the company that provides it.

Some number of other people do not use the service responsibly, and through their behavior, can cause serious harm, annoyance, and time/financial costs to random members of society.

Where Airbnb differs from casinos, breweries, tobacco companies, oxycotton manufacturers, payday loan brokers, fireworks manufacturers, bomb manufacturers...

is that Airbnb is a tech company, I guess.

> Where Airbnb differs (...) is that Airbnb is a tech company, I guess.

I disagree. IMO it's different simply because it's new and growing extremely large. All your other examples are old-school things that expand slowly, locally, and that we have plenty of experience in handling. They're also all regulated, and actually follow those regulations.

I think "societal strip-mining" is a very apt description of Uber and AirBnB.

I am inclined to agree!

I think their technology has given them the ability to coordinate laborers with buyers like never before.

It isn't centralized like a casino or brothel, because the workers are geographically dispersed and don't have to show up to a physical building/boss for instructions.

It is more effective than craigslist or a newspaper, because their technology has evolved and is trusted enough to deliver quality service in real-time.

There is a big war on how to regulate/clamp down on this (depends on your view), but it is likely their technology that made the difference compared to other business models.

this doesn't give them a free pass, it just explains why/how it happened maybe ^.^

Did/does your building have the equivalent of an HOA? I know my neighborhood has banned short term rentals.

The neighboring town zoned an area for short term rentals, forced registration with the city, and added some fees. It turned all of the legit short term rental owners effectively into enforcement of rentals outside the zone so they can control supply. It worked out pretty well and seemed to be a good balance of control and free market.

>Did/does your building have the equivalent of an HOA? I know my neighborhood has banned short term rentals.

Part of the problem is that landlords are able to charge so much more for AirBnB here that none of the landlords really want to rule out the possibility of getting in on the gravy themselves, hence the stat about half the rental market being on Airbnb.

Most buildings have an owners association of some kind, but it doesn't have the power that HOA's seem to have according to the Internet. As far as I know (and I'm not very knowledgeable on this), if there was any kind of major disagreement, such as some owners trying to stop others from doing short term rentals, ultimately it would have to end up in court to force someones hand.

That sounds terrible, but would it be less terrible if your loud and obnoxious neighbors were long term renters?

My vacation rentals have rules, especially about noise. If you break the rules I can literally force you to leave right then, as in, collect your stuff and go right now. You have no recourse. The police will help me toss you if you don't go willingly.

If I rented to you long term, I don't have that luxury. I'd have to evict you over months of court precedings and you'd have plenty of time to vindictively trash my property. In fact, this is one of the main reasons I don't do long term rentals.

But as a host, you want the 5 star rating for fear of being delisted. If you throw someone out, goodbye to your lucrative vacation rental.

Noise complaints from other tenants often fall on deaf ears.

As I said elsewhere, I wouldn't hesitate. I screen visitors well and I get 5 star reviews.

Any one star reviews can be explained away easily. I've never had to do it as a host, but I've stayed at places with some one star reviews where the host provided a reasonable explanation in response.

Yes: you can be evicted over persistent noise complaints.

Evicted being the key word. That is a very long process.

What's your point? Being evicted is a big deal. It's can be difficult to get a next nice apartment if you've been evicted before, especially if you were evicted from your immediate previous apartment.

There is no deterrent whatsoever for Airbnb guests, who have no stake in the lease or the local market.

No, they have a public rating to maintain on airbnb. Evictions are actually easy to hide, just move to a different state or keep looking for the next sucker on CL that is a newbie landlord.

That's silly, as anyone who has used Airbnb knows. Your renter rating on Airbnb is meaningless. If you somehow got a bad one, you'd just create a new profile. I've created new profiles for Airbnb rentals simply because I couldn't be arsed to remember which email address I'd used, and had no problems.

I can only speak for myself and the 5-6 people I know who rent their properties on these platforms; we don't rent to new profiles.

Clearly some people do rent to new profiles. There are fools everywhere, but they won't be fools for long. It will only take a few bad experiences, and then they'll learn.

You are not most people on Airbnb. I've rented pretty amazing places on fresh profiles. And really, it's not as if the idea that online rating systems are unhelpful is new to anyone.

From a single renter's point of view, you have a big pool of places. You'll find one that doesn't mind your new profile. I get that.

From a single host's point of view, you have 0% chance of renting with me or the hosts like me.

So we're looking at this from different views. I get that people with new profiles CAN find a place, even a nice place. Please get that they won't find it with cautious hosts that are careful about their visitors.

So... just another example of how the AirBnB system offloads risk onto the unsuspecting, then?


On one hand everyone is pissed that people are buying properties just to rent on airbnb (and home away, flipkey, vbro, etc...) and on the other hand we need to protect these same people from themselves?

You can't protect the predator and its prey.

If you want fewer people buying up properties for short term rentals you should want the weaker ones to have bad experiences and tell all their friends.

It's entirely possible to point out that both sides of the market may be harmed when "disrupting" a regulated industry. AirBnB takes a cut of the savings, but the risks are borne by the market participants, whether that means having your property trashed by bad guests, or your trip ruined by bad hosts. The "predator" in your analogy would be AirBnB itself.

>Evictions are actually easy to hide, just move to a different state or

That depends __entirely__ on where you live. In Iceland, your renting a building is registered with your kennitala (national identification number). Get evicted or damage the property, and all the real estate managers in the country know.


>where this forum is based thus my reasonable presumption

The 16th word in the post you responded to was "Reykjavik". Second line, first sentence. The post contains the word Iceland once and the word Reykjavik twice. There is only so much I can do to help you on this front.

And you responded to a comment that wasn't originally about Iceland. This is a general conversation about airbnb, not airbnb in Iceland, which was my point.

So again, you replied to a general conversation with a specific in Iceland. Does that mean we all have to converse about airbnb in Iceland with you? If that's the case, I hope you like having conversations with yourself.

>That sounds terrible, but would it be less terrible if your loud and obnoxious neighbors were long term renters?

The rate of loud and obnoxious long term renters is lower, due to the risk of people going to your landlord and forcing your eviction.

This can only be done if your behavior is chronic and long standing as an individual. There is no local law I am aware of allowing action against a cycle of short term tenants.

>My vacation rentals have rules, especially about noise. If you break the rules I can literally force you to leave right then, as in, collect your stuff and go right now.

A landlord who does this will get negative reviews, which will directly lower their income. AirBnB landlords are literally paid to ignore complaints.

>The rate of loud and obnoxious long term renters is lower, due to the risk of people going to your landlord and forcing your eviction.

I agree that the rate is higher, but not the reason. Most bad renters know it's almost impossible to get evicted from a long term rental. You must not know anyone who is a long term landlord, because you throw around the word eviction like it's nothing. It's a long and expensive process at the end of which you'll most likely have extensive property damage on top of lost rent.

Frankly, you're overestimating the importance of a negative review. If we ever had to kick someone out it would be for a good reason. If you had a party at the house, that would be against our contract and you'd get tossed. I'd then get a bad review, mixed in with all my other 5 star reviews. To that one review I would simply respond "Visitor threw a party with 20 people which was in violation of our contract. This is not a party house and we're upfront about that. Anyone who thinks they can rent my property under false pretenses should heed this review and not rent from me."

Now I'm better off on airbnb. My average review is still high and now prospective visitors know I won't put up with shit.

>You're simply demonstrating NIMBYism.

Reducing something to a term doesn't negate it. There are many things which, if they start happening in your back yard, you would have valid reasons to object to and work against. Yet you could call all of them NIMBYism. So what? That's not shorthand for wrong.

The neighbourhood around you turning into a transient state where your neighbours change on a daily basis? To me that's a valid cause for concern. To others, young professionals renting in a busy city and moving every 6-12 months? Probably not so much.

Both positions are valid and deserving of consideration.

If you appreciate Airbnb when out of your own city but oppose it when it's in your city, then your opposition is not grounded in an objective analysis of what is in the general public's interest, and should therefore be dismissed in my opinion.

NIMBYism isn't inherently bad.

You're right: it's extremely lucrative for the incumbents.

Maybe. Or maybe we just dont want to share a wall with a hotel. I know i dont.

You wouldn't have to if zoning laws allowed people to build taller buildings.

Airbnb is a hack that exists because the current market is completely unsustainable.

So Chicago has WAY easier zoning laws compared to SF. Still has zoning laws, but they are in a totally different / less crazy league.

Still, my condo has a no AirB&B clause. I would not have bought it if it allowed neighbors in the building to AirB&B.

Not 100% that clause is still enforceable, but I sold it a few years ago. I would sell ASAP though if I caught wind a neighbor was going to rent their unit. A quiet home is worth a lot to me.

It's just about keeping out people who might live in apartments. Really not racist or classist, just that we want our neighborhood to stay for people who can afford millions in land.

'Our members own seven apartments on average, they are not big companies'

Amazing how people live in distorted realities. To the vast majority of the population, owning seven apartments definitely puts you into 'big company' territory. Plus not being 'big' doesn't mean you get any exemptions.

Owning seven rental properties puts you squarely in the "small business" category by any definition. Big companies like Marriott have well over a million hotel rooms spread over thousands of properties.

The vast, vast majority of "Marriott's" hotel rooms are actually owned by investment funds, or smaller investors/groups who own 2, 5, 10, 15 hotels. Marriott/Hilton/IHG/Choice/Wyndham are all similar to Airbnb in this aspect, they do not own the real estate, they just provide the platform to the real estate owners to rent the rooms on and provide the branding support in exchange for 7% to 15% royalty fees.

If you own seven apartments with an average rent of $1k, your yearly revenue (not profit!) is $84,000. That's microscopic by any reasonable standard of company size.

Depends where you are located and what kind of apartments it is.

The average rent in whatever is somewhere around 50% of the income, so if you own 3, you don't need to work.

Rent in an area is generally considered excessive when it's more than a third of the average income. And it also has to cover taxes, maintenance, etc. This is assuming you own them free and clear with no mortgage. If you finance buying a small rental property you're usually losing money each month for a few years until rents go up enough to cover your costs.

Let's assume average income = x

So, rental income from 3 houses = 1.5x

Even if we assumed that all three homes were owned outright, you'd be on the hook for property taxes, maintenance, and utilities for each house. About half of my monthly expense minus mortgage is on these three line items.

Therefore, 1/2 of 1.5x goes straight to property taxes, maint, utilities leaving your income at 0.75x. You have to pay your own rent/expenses out of this.

Living off renting isn't foolproof at the levels you suggested.

Living off renting is 100% foolproof with 3 properties. You don't have to pay rent when you own your property.

I don't know if you said "houses" on purpose. Houses are going for more than 0.5 income.

How can you rent out 3 properties while living in one of them?

Assume that someone who rent 3 properties also have a place they live in.

Can be a 4th property. Can be that 1 of the rental is simply an independent floor in their 4 stories house.

Either way, if you own at least 3 properties you can have enough income to live.

Vacation rentals earn a multiple of long-term rental rates. AirBnB average in NYC is reported to be ~5500/month, so 462k/year for seven properties.

Probably paying $3k in rent for each of those apartments, $300 in utilities and cable, $800 in cleaning/laundry/expendables, plus probably budgeting $100/month to cover the faster than average wear and tear. So $109k/year in profits pre-tax. You could live on it, but you wouldn't exactly be rich.

That's more small business category.

With a business plan and stable income, getting a small business loan isn't hard. In this case, there is an asset value risk, but that doesn't mean this is large company territory...

Of course it's small business - the point is there is little distinction between this guy and Accor for most people, they are both corporations and not someone renting out their holiday home anymore.

> Rents are rising at a rate of nearly 10 percent a year, even though the city has a rent cap.

Maybe that rent cap is why landlords prefer Airbnb. Rent caps are never a good idea, they have so many unforseen consequences.

There is no rent cap in Germany. The article is wrong.

Germany has only "soft" rent controls that limit YOY increases in rent and (selectively) increases in rents when changing tenants.

German economic orthodoxy relies very much on the need to build housing in order to deal with housing shortages and with rising rents due to housing shortages. The "soft" rent controls simply buy time to get housing projects underway. Without new housing being built, rents would still reach market levels, it would just take a bit longer.

Berlin's current problem is excessive urbanization driven by migration (1) from the neighbouring comparatively poor East German states and (2) of foreigners who speak only English and hence prefer a city that has already evolved to accommodate English speakers. Various and sundry NIMBY problems where locals oppose new housing projects also don't help.

> Berlin's currently problem is excessive urbanization driven by migration (1) from the neighbouring comparatively poor East German states and (2) of foreigners who speak only English and hence prefer a city that has already evolved to accommodate English speakers.

No. Berlin problems mostly stem from the city government colluding with investor scum to build luxury apartments instead of actually affordable ones plus doing their very best to e.g. kick squats out (which help keeping down rents for all neighbors). Berlin government could easily break the necks of the investors and protect the population instead, but especially the SPD has chosen not to do so - and sell off priorly city-owned prime real estate to investors.

The investors now do "Luxussanierungen" (basically, thermoclad the houses and fix the more egregious stuff like bad wiring / plumbing that the city government had neglected over decades) and price out all the lower-and-middle-income people.

Are they luxury apartments because they're palatial or inherently high-cost, or because they're centrally located?

It's unlikely that there's any such thing as an actually affordable apartment in a major world city, unless we've moved the method of allocation to something like lottery or waiting list, in which case it's only affordable to a lucky few.

I would encourage anyone who thinks that luxury apartments are for the rich while single family houses are normal to consider the relative luxury of life in the actual structures (not location). You'll find that, as structures, luxury apartments are much less luxurious than lower-density uses of the same land.

Governments mainly value people as taxpayers, because taxpayers pay into the public coffers, which can then be emptied to ameliorate social disputes and ease reelection. If you don't pay taxes and do consume services at the same time, as a squatter does, you're making your leaders' lives harder and they will find a way to get rid of you.

A squatter pays his/her share of taxes: VAT on everything he/she buys, income tax on any kind of employment or other income sources.

The only tax that a squatter does not pay in contrast to an owner or renter (indirect there) is "ground tax", which is a negligible amount anyway.

There is also the opportunity cost of the owner not living in the domicile and not paying those same taxes, at probably higher amounts than the squatter. The owner is probably wealthier than the squatter and thus will pay more taxes.

Squats usually end up in houses where no one cared in any way for years and some times, like the recent short-term squat in Munich, for decades.

And the only interest which the "owners", mostly in form of offshore companies, have is to make huge amounts of money at the cost of the city, so I don't have a single tear left for them.

NYC does the same rent caps disappeared in the 70s. They YOY percentage increase limits. One limit for lease renewals, higher one for new leases.

DC has the same rent control structure.

>Rent caps are never a good idea, they have so many unforseen consequences.

Compared to uncapped rent that doesn't have any?

Uncapped rent will lead to people getting priced out of their homes by the first person willing to outbid them. Nothing unforeseen about that.

There are others, though. For example, there are a couple of basic asymmetries that advantage landlords.

One is that they generally have multiple units, whereas renters generally have only one. So the end of a lease is a bigger deal to the renter than the landlord. Another is that the costs (in time and money) of a tenant move are much higher for the renter than the landlord.

This means that a greedy landlord can jack the rent well above market price because renters are eager to avoid the expense and disruption of moving.

> jack the rent well above market price

if the renter is able to accept the "jacked up" price, then by definition that's the market price (for that property). The renter needs to move if they don't like the price. The landlord also don't like vacant properties, and is perhaps eager to not "jack up" the price if they find that the tenant moves as soon as they do!

It is not the market price, because the only person who will pay it is the one who's eager to avoid moving. Everybody else will pay a lower price, because they have already committed to moving.

The second order effects to whats happens to those people, and to the neighborhoods where they lived is the unforeseen part.

Is this surprising at all? Most "sharing" apps are now overrun by professionals in their field. The apps help the professional (or company) achieve zero cost customer acquisition cost. In case the apps do catch up, these guys end up being "promoted" because they are a good fit. The pros make for much better "sales target" for these sharing apps.

A lot of occasional hosts underestimate the risks of subletting through Airbnb.

If a guest starts a fire or a flood unless you have a professional insurance you're fucked for instance, and lying to your insurance will make things worse if you get caught. If the neighbors file a complain about your guests you can get evicted, if you sublet behind your landlord's back as well. So it was just a question of time before most offers in the west get fulfilled by professionals, especially when Airbnb is starting to cooperate actively with local authorities when it comes to things such as the legal status of the host and taxes.

The whole grass-root share economy thing is just a PR farce.

Any sort of market gradually becomes consolidated over time, until 2 or 3 big firms dominate it. Professionals practice specialization, which will always give them an advantage over amateurs. Sharing platforms at least don't lock out amateurs with high entry costs.

Uber started out as ride sharing, now it's an international taxi service.

Say what you will about Uber (I use Lyft more personally), but UberEATS is incredible.

They took on the messy pricing models (delivery fee + delivery minimum + tip + convenience fee, etc) that the other food delivery apps use and made it a clean and simple $5 flat rate with realtime tracking. If it arrives later than the guaranteed time they give a credit. With this side business alone, they've made a 3-5x improvement in the overall food delivery experience. I think it's one app where we can't give Uber enough credit.

And an international regulation avoidance service.

And an international bro-themed VC party, currently in the phase where you're already throwing up, but still buzzed enough to kinda enjoy it–if only you didn't know from experience that you'll soon be suffering a terrible headache, will have to deal with the fallout of some rather bad decisions you made, and will generally swear to yourself and your spouse that you'll never do it again.

Which I couldn't care less about as long as they improve my daily life. I can book and pay an Uber in two clicks and it arrives on time. Why should I care about an idiot politician not getting their pockets filled because Uber aren't complying with regulations forcing them to fill his pockets?

Because it also means that you don't care if your driver doesn't have proper insurance or basic rights that workers fought for a century ago.

Most regulation is not the result of "idiot politicians", it's the result of customers demanding protection.

Right sure, because the regulations are only there for a politician to fill their pockets and for no other reasons, and fuck consumer protections let's just let corporations do whatever they want because "fuck you I've got mine, and I got it on time".

Well if Uber doesn't provide consumer protection then you're not forced to use them. But personally I'd rather take the risk and give up my customer protection (and be fine 99% of the time) than deal with a conventional taxi. Judging by Uber's popularity it looks like I'm not alone.

This is only true if the professional has the ability to scale. In other words, if they are selling a product (a place to rent) vs. a service (driving someone somewhere e.g. Uber)

It's not zero cost it's fixed cost as they pay airbnb for it. But that's still a good deal as customer acquisition is tricky.

My bad, it is not zero. I dint account for the commissions platforms charge for using the service.

They have about 20% comission, plus another 5-10 if you pay in a foreign currency.

Airbnb employee here. (Software engineer; I don't speak for the company.) Personally, I like staying in listings that are owned and operated by the resident. It's more personal and it lets me connect more with some locals. One of my favorite nights at an Airbnb was a dinner with the delightful couple who rented out a room in their Paris apartment. Much less enjoyable was a night in a Seattle room--it was very clean and a five-star room, but it felt like a hotel in that I was lonely.

Both of those were business trips. My vacation travel is different: I have a wife and 3 kids, so it's almost impossible for the five of us to stay in someone's private residence. For those trips, I look for places where the owner only has one property, which to my mind indicates they give it--and my family--a high level of personal attention. Sometimes it's a cottage in their backyard, like the ones I've stayed in at Tahoe and Pescadero. Those a nice because I can meet the owner and they're just 20 feet away when I need help. I am also an Airbnb host of a cottage in my own backyard. It's booked about 90% of the time but the neighbors on my street tell me they usually forget I'm even hosting because they don't even notice.

But there are hosts who manage many properties and there are guests who stay in them. I personally don't like the feeling of being tricked into thinking a place is owner-occupied and then finding out it's managed by a property manager, and I will say so in a review. (We have rules for employees; I won't look at our internal systems when booking to try to see more than the usual customer would see.)

The managed properties are more common in some large urban cities. That is why last year Airbnb banned owners of multiple properties in some large cities around the world. I honestly don't know the specifics of any one city such as Cologne, which is mentioned in the article.

God I hate those backyard cottages, did you label yours as a "casita" too? Some AirBnB hosts literally go to home depot, haul a shed, plant it, add crappy insulation and list it.

I actually find that to be the worst aspect of AirBnB, if I go to a hotel and I do not like my room I can switch it. If I use AirBnB and the place sucks, well, I'm stuck. Unless I want to go through a lengthy customer service battle.

Listings managed by professionals are pleasant on the other hand, I honestly do not want to check-in putting up a front after lining my "host"s pockets. I pay for a service and receive service. Let's not pretend they're doing this for any other reason. AirBnB damn isn't Couch Surfing.

The disputes are usually quickly opened and resolved.

Just take pictures, explain the problem and open the dispute.

As an Airbnb employee I hope you don't mind feature requests. ;)

I have severe animal allergies, so using Airbnb is quite annoying for me, there's a way to filter for places that allow pets but not the inverse. Every time I try to use Airbnb I have to look at tons of places to find one that doesn't have or allow pets. It would be really awesome to be able to just eliminate pet places from my search.

I don't mind at all. ;-)

That sounds like it would be helpful to a lot of people. I'll pass that suggestion to the right team. You can also suggest it yourself since suggestions directly from customers mean a lot. Go to https://www.airbnb.com/help/feedback and choose "Traveling / Finding a place" as your feedback category.

I did that a few years ago so I'm hoping you have better luck. ;)

Ok I'm working on finding the right team to send this request to.

P.S. I found the right team and started a conversation 45 minutes ago. But as it's Sunday, I don't expect to see a response soon.

Ever hear back about the conversation?

Yeah. I can't say anything too specific but the good news is the team agrees this would be one of the more useful filters that we could provide to guests. They took it really seriously and listened when I brought it up and linked to this discussion. Sorry for the lack of specificity. Also, please keep asking Airbnb for this filter until it happens.

Thanks, I appreciate it!

As an employee, would you say that the article summarizes a legitimate problem?

That's a great question. I'll start by repeating that I don't know the specifics of the market in Germany at all and the article focused on Germany, so my comments are more general than what was described in the article.

The sense I get within the company is that we have a pretty strong preference for the small owner over someone who has many properties. There are a lot of reasons for this. A big reason for this is ideological: we truly believe in Airbnb as a human platform, not just a place to find lodging but a place to connect with other human beings.

Internally, at least in my circles, we don't focus on supporting property managers. It hasn't come up in any meeting I've been in over the 2 years I've been here. In fact I've seen plenty of bugs caused by an engineer not considering the fact that an owner might have a lot of properties. That wouldn't happen if everyone was always like "don't forget the property managers!"

More directly answering your question: I believe the article is summarizing something that is a legitimate problem in some cities, which is why Airbnb has engaged with cities and has banned multi-property owners in some. But I also think the article is using hyperbole and flawed logic to exaggerate the problem. Two examples:

1. "Even though Airbnb told the SZ that the focus of its business model was "home-sharing," the platform appears to actively encourage professionalization - with tips including stipulating set check-in times." How do tips about stipulating set check-in times encourage so-called "professionalization?" That just seems weird. Naturally we ask hosts to specify the check-in time. Guests want to know that information.

2. "Some 58 percent of all offers on Airbnb in Germany are entire apartments or even apartment blocks - meaning professional landlords are effectively the core of Airbnb's business." I find this dubious. Tons of hosts list an entire home/apartment even when it's their only listing. The cottage behind my house is listed as an entire home/apartment because it's not a shared space, but it's my only listing and my wife and I clean it ourselves. There are a lot of people who only rent out their place when they are on vacation, to help pay for the vacation. That doesn't create the "emptying of inner city neighborhoods" that the article describes.

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