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I Bought An Apartment To Rent Out On Airbnb (needwant.com)
583 points by j0ncc on Nov 1, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 373 comments

If anyone is interested, this looks like the link to the place:


Another thing to add to the "if you're thinking of doing this" list - don't write a post about it where you and the location can be identified. This is probably against the HOA agreement (short term leases are prohibited).

It also could be a safety issue if you aren't actually living there. Once someone knows the apartment number, someone could see when a particular place isn't going to be occupied and use that to their (ahem) advantage.

Seriously kids - don't do this. You'll probably be breaking a bunch of contracts and a fair number of hotel and zoning laws. Not to mention the insurance and liability issues that aren't even remotely discussed in the post.

I recently bought a condo in Maui to rent and those places are sent up for this sort of thing. They even call them Condotels. Being designed for short term rentals brings a lot of benefits like resort manages check-ins/outs for you.

Also, there is an echo chamber in the tech community regarding AirBnB as the standard for short term rentals. From my experience, VRBO has been much better and provided significantly more bookings. ymmv and it could be your customer type as a two bedroom condo in Hawaii gets a lot more families and older bookings.

If anyone has any questions about this, my email is in my profile.

Rather than saying "don't do this", it would probably be better to say "Step 1: make sure it is legal to do this".

As you've pointed out, there are plenty of places where it is perfectly legal to do this. My guess is that it's harder to find a profit opportunity, though, because the more profitable use (legal use as a short term hotel) is already priced into the unit.

I suspect that one reason airbnb is so profitable in areas where it is not legal is that the restrictions on short term rentals suppress the sale price of the unit. So you buy a unit that is cheaper precisely because it is illegal to use it as a hotel, and then you profit by using it as a hotel. So in cities with very strict zoning and tenant protection laws (like SF), I guess they're selling the assumption of risk.

Done: It is legal. This is a contract issue and is therefore covered by civil procedure and not criminal code. So, it is "legal". But, you may be sued for breach of contract and be found to have damaged the other party. But, that all has to be argued in civil court and you may win or the other party may be found to have no damages. Finally, be sure to pay your taxes. That actually is a law.

Zoning laws are a legal issue, not a civil one. So are licensing requirements and other hotel codes. The HOA stuff would be a civil matter, but that is only one of the things preventing this sort of action.

Because they can't be purchased as a second home, the down payment is the biggest hurdle in getting a unit (30-35%). The cash flow after that is quite nice if you can find the right property.

> As you've pointed out, there are plenty of places where it is perfectly legal to do this.

.. Why the everloving fuck would this be illegal? What sense could it possibly make? -You have some property and you're letting someone use it for a fee.

I get that this actually might be illegal somewhere - I'm just trying to highlight the fact that it would be absolutely fucking insane.

A lot of people don't want to live next to a revolving door of new arrivals. They enjoy knowing their neighbors, having friends for their kids nearby, and building lasting relationships with the community. They are willing to trade their own right to rent out their house as a short term hotel in exchange for a legally enforced expectation that their neighbors won't do this either. Yes, this does amount to a limit on personal, individual freedom - you can not purchase a house and turn it into a short term rental unit (ie., a hotel) at will anywhere you please.

People have lots of preferences about housing, which is why people tend to make an effort to suss out their housing options. Whether your neighbors are permanent or transient is just another dimension along which your preferences can vary. I don't understand why that preference in particular should be legally codified, whereas practically every other variable gets determined by people voting with their feet and dollars.

The same argument, after all, goes through for long-term renters too, whom a lot of people don't want to live next to. Should we zone all annual leases as well?

Have you ever bought a house? It's exhausting and expensive, and it's not as easy to "vote with your feet" after the neighbor decides to make his new place into a hotel. It's not like changing pharmacists. These protections exist for a reason.

Well actually, speak of the devil, I moved out of my last apartment specifically because my downstairs neighbors, who had lived there for years, were completely intolerable. If I could have waved a magic wand and replaced them with an AirBnB crash pad, I would have done so in an instant. Restrictions on short-term rentals are of little comfort when your long-term neighbors are worse. Then again, the arguments against short-term rentals go through just about as well for long-term rentals, so why not just restrict rental properties altogether? Many homeowners seek to avoid neighborhoods with high rental density, so why not make their jobs easier with a law?

As I said, there are plenty of attributes that make different houses more or less desirable to different people. If the OP had converted their apartment into a sarin gas factory or a practice pad for MBV, it might be a little more understandable why regulation would be efficient. As it stands, having a short-term rental next door strikes me as an extremely vague sort of source of disutility: all you can say with certainty is that you won't have long-term neighbors. Which many people are fine with in the first place. If people have varying preferences about living next to short-term rentals (either because they view them as a source of variety in se or just don't mind that much either way, as I do) then it should be more efficient to let people figure it out for themselves. People already self-assort into spatially resolved communities according to many other attributes (e.g. school quality, proximity to nightlife, population density; all attributes which reasonable people can value differently) so it seems strange to pick 'proximity to a short-term rental' as the one intangible neighborhood-character issue to treat like 'proximity to a meth lab'.

So let me just state again: I wouldn't mind living next to a short-term rental. In fact, if they're as widely despised as you suggest, I'd mind it even less because the housing market would be effectively subsidizing my tolerance.

> What sense could it possibly make? -You have some property and you're letting someone use it for a fee

This is the extraordinarily naive libertarian position. Most people would not welcome a brothel as their closest neighbor for example.

Funny that you should mention that. My next door neighbor put herself through nursing school on her back, and by renting her place to others in the same profession when she was at school. They were far quieter and less disruptive than the aging couple on the other side of my place.

If it had been put up for a vote, I probably would have voted 'no', but the reality was not what I would have expected.

This of course is not relevant to the discussion, where someone bought a condo which requires accepting the declaration, bylaws and rules and regulations of the HOA. If those rules, which the buyer accepted, forbid short-term rentals, then there's no excuse for doing it anyway.

>> This is the extraordinarily naive libertarian position. Most people would not welcome a brothel as their closest neighbor for example.

That's different from just renting out your place to some random traveller. Besides, even if renting your place is legal, nothing prevents you from whipping up a contract that places some limits on how rowdy the occupant(s) can get.

So no, there's nothing "naive" about thinking that renting out your property being illegal is fucking insane.

Hotels are regulated for fire safety, food hygiene, etc etc.

You can see how it's useful to protect society to not allow people to run unlicensed hotels?

But the difference is, you bought something where short-term/vacation rentals are one of the main purposes. Your condo was designed so that it could be used as a short-term rental. You are working within an established business model.

Many dedicated AirBnB locations are supposed to be strictly residential with longer-term leases.

What's the name of the condos if you don't mind me asking? I'm looking for something similar.

Are there hotel and zoning laws in unincorporated communities in Nevada?

Probably. It's still in the state of Nevada and in a county. An "unincorporated" town isn't lawless.

Why probably? Even some incorporated areas don't have zoning laws. For example, Houston.

That's right, Houston doesn't have any zoning laws.

Yes it does. Houston has tons of zoing laws. http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2011/11/30/the_myth_of_z...

Right but from a quick scan of https://www.leg.state.nv.us/NRS/NRS-651.html (admittedly very quick) it appears all he has to do is post a rate card for his maximum daily rate and not discriminate against guests.

From a quick scan of what I think is likely the HOA rules (http://valenciahoa.com/admin/uploads/r&r.pdf), you can't have sub-30 day leases. I'm not sure this is the right HOA, but from the Google Street View, the logos are the same.

Hy HOA (not in Nevada) has this exact same clause, and when I read about this, I wondered what his HOA would say. If I were an HOA, I'd be pretty concerned about AirBNB.

If I worked for the HOA and I saw this I would try to figure out if anyone knows I saw it. If not, I would ignore it. It's technically against the rules but OP seems to be doing a good job of managing it, and I doubt I could apply a higher standard to the rest of the units. I'd wait for a resident to bring the issue to me, which would hopefully never happen.

If I managed a ritzier condo complex I'd probably do something about it immediately rather than take a wait and see approach.

Former HOA president here (for a 77 unit building in downtown San Diego).

Short-term vacation rentals are forbidden here and they are absolutely shut down when found out. You can't 'manage' every single guest that comes thru - most will be respectful, but it won't take long before a group of college students use it as as a party pad. I lived next to one used for that purpose, and while I was on the board we had 4 others we fined to the point where it wasn't worth their while.

Did you ever consider changing the rules to allow short-term rentals?

You might want to reread my comment more carefully. I was actively stopping it in my building.

If anything we were trying to push an ammendment to make tenancy a 6 month lease minimum.

It's probably an insurance coverage issue, so ignoring it wouldn't be a good idea. Especially if the insurance company feels that you should have known about it.

Wait, why does my insurance company care about my HOA rules?

You've clearly got a bit of a nanny mentality about this. Maybe that's unfair.. But you have strongly criticized this and posted rebuttals to anybody disagreeing with you. All on the grounds of "this is probably bad, don't make your HOA [or govt, or insurance company]" mad at you.

I have to confess I feel a bit of... revulsion... in your advocacy of docile compliance. It must be the rebellious streak in me. But it's something I bet others here can relate to. I'm more of a "ask for forgiveness rather than permission" type of guy.

All that said, I won't be rushing out to buy a condo to rent on AirBnB. But I also would never sit on HN and try to argue against it because of HOA.

Though I also think you're totally within your rights, to be clear.

I think he meant the HOA's insurance (including liability) for the common areas of the complex. If the HOA's insurance found out that an HOA board member or property employee knew about a residency violation, they might have grounds to cancel the policy, which would just end up costing the HOA money, which would raise the monthly dues of all owners.

Your (as the hypothetical owner of an apartment unit) insurance cares about whether you are occupying the unit as you said you would. I'm sure you can purchase a policy for primary residence, long-term leasing, and short-term leasing. If you're violating your policy, it could be declared void at any time, in particular if you ever make a claim.

If I were a good insurance agent, hypothetically, I also wouldn't write an insurance policy for short-term leasing in a property where I suspected such use wasn't allowed. It would probably be in my best interest to get proof from the potential insuree that such use was permitted.

As for that rebellious streak, we're talking about an investment here, and ways that people might be breaking voluntarily signed contracts in order to make a few extra dollars (the real-estate agent should offer the HOA terms to any potential seller, and then you sign the HOA contract when you purchase the apartment). Also, I prefer disruptions to business models, not disruptions to living arrangement. As mentioned elsewhere in this thread, there is no upside to the other residents, it's all a nuisance to them.

As someone else said: The HOA representative should care about the HOA's insurance. If there's insurance covering e.g. common areas, it is problematic if the insurance does not cover short term lets and units are used for short term lets, because the expectations of damage from places e.g. rented out as party pads would be far higher than otherwise.

But this also means your insurance company should care, as depending on your policy, if your insurance company would be on the hook for damages not covered by the HOA insurance, it is very much in their interest to ensure that you are not doing anything in violation of HOA rules that might affect the HOA insurance cover.

So ask forgiveness all you want, but realise that your insurance may not be worth the paper it is written on if you break contracts that might affect insurance cover. And that's potentially a very high cost to pay for a "rebellious streak".

> You've clearly got a bit of a nanny mentality about this.

How is espousing that the right to swing a fist ends at another's nose "nanny mentality"? An apartment is in a shared property structure, with rules contracted into voluntarily, and in close proximity to the property of others. Insurance is offered as a contractual arrangement. No-one is forcing you to buy an apartment, but if you do so on the basis of a legal agreement around how you will use it with the co-owners of the building, breaching it justifiably attracts sanctions.

I was wondering about the HOA restrictions too. Our condo in San Francisco that we live in came with CC&R's that limit how we can rent the unit out. It's permissible only for periods over 30 days and you're not allowed to offer typical hotel services like changing sheets, towels, etc.

I'm curious if the author looked into this.

I'm not saying you're wrong but I'm surprised this is the top comment on "hacker" news.

If enough people do this it will be the end of Airbnb. This is one of the patterns the state of NY is using against Airbnb while Airbnb is arguing that the service is intended for people occasionally renting out their primary residence. If the state is able to prove a significant number of people used this model Airbnb is done in NY and I fear other states will follow.

When I was visiting Berlin last winter, I stayed at Airbnb flats and it seemed like a lot of the owners were doing exactly this. In fact, to your point, the city was, IIRC, about to forbid vacation rentals in certain neighborhoods. Berlin is rapidly gentrifying, there's a R.E. bubble going on, poorer people are being pushed out of the city, and this kind of thing intensifies that trend. I've no idea if cities in the US would be willing to step in and intervene if this became common here.

Berlin is rapidly gentrifying, there's a R.E. bubble going on, poorer people are being pushed out of the city

This is true in lots of fun cities, primarily because it's so hard to build new housing stock—which is a Bad Thing, as Matthew Yglesias describes in The Rent is Too Damn High. Britain is suffering from a variant of the "no building" problem too: http://www.buzzfeed.com/dlknowles/britains-dysfunctional-pro... : "Construction started on just 107,000 new homes in England last year. Excluding World War II, that’s the lowest figure since the 1920s."

The solution to "gentrification" and what not is "building new dwellings," which we know how to do very effectively (elevators and steel are century-old technologies). The problem is regulatory / political.

It's not quite that simple. Building up can ruin the character of the neighborhood, which is often a big part of the allure.

I do think we're chronically underbuilding in a lot of places (SF being an extreme example), but the existence of steel and elevators is not a panacea for the "gentrification problem".

> Building up can ruin the character of the neighborhood, which is often a big part of the allure.

Well then, less allure would lead to lower prices, right? What's not to like?

That's all well and good. But all the wealthy people who already live there will probably use their political clout to prevent new construction.

And this is inherently wrong, why? People (of whatever their net worth) vote, speak at meetings, and talk to their representatives to try and pursue outcomes that they prefer. One of those outcomes may be maintaining a particular character for a neighborhood. It's complicated. Greater good for the larger city or whatever and all that. But I don't see anything devious about residents having a say in what their community looks like.

> And this is inherently wrong, why?

Because the world does not exist for the benefit of the rich and privileged; not simply the "rolling in Maserati" rich but those in a position to enact those gentrifying policies--who are overwhelmingly upper-income and capable of exerting more time to get what they want, have more money to apply to their causes, and generally are better-educated and able to execute.

The "selfish vote" amongst the privileged is indeed a problem. A lack of social responsibility and a refusal to understand that those unlike you must too be able to live are moral failings. They are wrong, and situations that increase the effectiveness and value of the selfish vote amongst people with privilege are undesirable.

> Because the world does not exist for the benefit of the rich and privileged

No? Does it exist for the benefit of the poor then? -They sure keep voting for more wealth transfers and taxes on the rich, and they keep getting them too!

Note that I'm just an ordinary middle-class white person. I just wanted to point out that the world does not exist for any group's benefit. We're all just people, all just individuals here.

> Does it exist for the benefit of the poor then?

No. But we have ample historical evidence that huge wealth and privilege disparity does not lead to societal stability. The selfish vote of those rich and privileged seeks to increase this disparity. The selfish vote of the poor does not.

The Rich-Enough don't actually vote to change things, they buy politicians and make deals behind the scenes.

It's not quite that simple. Building up can ruin the character of the neighborhood, which is often a big part of the allure.

I don't think I've ever seen an example of this reflected in prices. Do you know of any, or of any studies of this phenomenon?

I don't know if this is a great example, but: http://www.leavenworth.org/

It's sort of a Bavarian themed down-town and city in Washington state. Its allure and attraction to tourists depends on its theme.

I say I don't know if it's a great example because I have no direct evidence about prices, but I assume the reasonable volume of tourists and business must raise prices compared to other cities.

In Mitte, there are some buildings where most of the apartments are Airbnb rentals or similar. There are few local residents left who are not so happy about living in a 24/7 party hostel.

If you don't end your contract, your rent is going to stay quite low in Berlin. If you're retired or unemployed and living decently with a rent around 100€ per month, it's not so easy to escape from the apartment. With a new contract, the rent might be ten times more expensive. Or the place is renovated and put into Airbnb.

People in general here in Berlin don't want more hotels. Especially for the residential neighbourhoods which makes all the prices go up even faster. Too bad some of the neighbourhoods are also very 'hip' places to stay...

I put my parents up in an AirBnB apt in Paris when they were visiting me. The renter had an agreement with a handful of friends that they would crash at their friend's apt when their apt was being AirBnB'd out. She said a lot of the students do it to earn extra cash. Same was true in most other cities we AirBnB'd in.

Berlin has been gentrifying ever since they tore down that wall. You can still buy apartments in East Berlin for under $100K.

this is definitely happening in NYC. A friend of mine just told me how he was considering getting in on it.

In NYC there's an enormous arbitrage. The cheapest hotel room in the city is $300/night. Meanwhile, you can rent a 1BR apt for $2,500 / month.

So you rent an apt for $2,500 / month and book it out on AirBnB for $200 / night ... and you're looking at a monthly arbitrage of $3,500.

The guy I know heard about it from a friend who's already doing this with 6 apartments ... so he was making something like $18K / month (less the cleaning expenses).

Easily. I know at least two people clearing $100k/year by being 'airbnb slumlords.' Real estate agents are keeping apartments off the market and renting them out as hotels.

Airbnb is clearly forcing a convergence between hotel prices and rents. This doesn't just mean forcing hotel prices down, it also means forcing rents up.

I wish the tech community could stop reflexively defending airbnb and engage with the question of what the costs it is imposing are or might be.

Airbnb is clearly forcing a convergence between hotel prices and rents. This doesn't just mean forcing hotel prices down, it also means forcing rents up.

I responded to this issue here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6657242 , but the short answer is to build more units.

Building the Second Ave Subway, extending express bus service, and doing similar things would also be helpful.

I agree that the way to deal with increasing rents is to build new buildings. In fact, I think that is probably Bloomberg's greatest accomplishment. He made it much easier to develop new buildings which led to a boom in development.

I would imagine Airbnb could at some point cap the number of nights you could let a place out, right? Certainly not ideal from their standpoint, of course, but manageable?

It also prevents a legal and valid use-case -- renting out your couch every night of the the year. So long as you still live in the place yourself full-time, this isn't illegal under most municipal codes.

"So long as you still live in the place yourself "

A way to game this might be to:

1) Buy a place

2) Rent out 1 room full time to someone who agrees to #3 in exchange for below market rent.

3) Rent out the other room or rooms.

This was the case at a place I stayed at in Boston - the place was a 3 bedroom apartment, 2 bedrooms were occupied by long term tenants, while the room I was in was exclusively for AirBNB.

I think rooms get far less than a full apt, even if you get the same space. Just having to deal with another person there means you can't totally relax in most places. (Like walk naked from the shower to the room.)

Seems pretty easily solvable - only enforce it for listings for whole apartments.

People might lie, but there is going to be some immediate negative feedback when people find out they've rented out a couch...

A consequence of this could be that people who rent places out also use AirBnB's competitors. So this could perhaps help AirBnB politically, but wouldn't fully stop the problem.

I'm not that familiar with the Airbnb situation in NY. Why is this a "bad" pattern that NY state has deemed to be a violation of the law?

There are a number of reasons. Most states have laws regarding how temporary rental properties (otherwise known as hotels) are zoned. You can't suddenly turn a building zoned for residential use into a hotel without getting it re-zoned.

Also, NY specifically worries that it will change the local housing market. If investors buy up enough local properties and turn them into mini hotels, locals may be priced out of these neighbourhoods and those neighbourhoods will in turn suffer.

Plus there are the complaints from the locals. Having a neighbour rent out their place to tourists a couple of times a year is not a big deal, but if it happens every single week it gets annoying. You never know who is coming and going and they aren't always all that worried about noise, garbage, etc.

And just to clarify, I think the state is right to be concerned about these issues. But at the same time I would hate to lose the ability for someone to put their primary residence on a site like Airbnb a couple of times a year. This helps visitors and the residents without significantly hurting anything else in the equation. Things only start to turn sour when enough people create dedicated Airbnb properties as investments.

I think your missing a huge one. Taxes, hotels in major city's often send 10+$ a day to the local government. And before people complain about this that money often pays for things like museums and convention centers which is why many people are going to the city in the first place.

Edit: NY get's 10$ on a one room 140$ hotel room stay as it's $2.00 per day per room* + 5.875% of the rent. http://www.nyc.gov/html/dof/html/business/hotel.shtml

So if NYC just made airbnb charge the 5.875% tax, most of their complaints would go away? And by increasing the hotel supply, hotel prices would go down to better match actual long term renting? Then it would create a more liquid housing market enabled by computerized markets? It would still allow casual renting of people's houses that way.

No, their complaints aren't strictly about the missing tax revenue. There are other regulations that would need to be addressed (health, safety, etc...). Hotels are a heavily regulated industry with good reason. Regulations are a protection mechanism to protect the city/neighborhood and the consumer.

I think that there is a clear difference between renting out a room or occasionally renting your entire place, versus keeping a separate apartment strictly for renting out on AirBnB.

It's a bit sad that you have to explain this to grown up people.

I'm not sure that residential/commercial zoning laws in US states falls under the umbrella of general knowledge.

There's nothing US specific about zoning laws. They most probably preceded the founding of your silly colony.

The first modern zoning was in 1916 in New York for height related reasons. Great Britain didn't start zoning until 1947.

EDIT: I was sort of surprised that was the first zoning, when I just looked it up. I always mentally associated zoning with 1920s progressive social engineering.

Not true. Paris had zoning laws (including building height restrictions and business location restrictions) since before Haussman, in the early 1800s[0].

New York passed the first US laws, as far as I can tell from a quick search (although I do see vague references to San Francisco using zoning laws against the Chinese in the 1880s, and a lot of people, including Wikipedia, quoting a more limited achievement of 'the first comprehensive/city-wide zoning laws' for New York), but Europe definitely predated them. I believe Germany and some other countries also had them, besides France.

[0]: http://books.google.com/books?id=dONVGtJzxrwC&pg=PA20&lpg=PA...

HAHA, take that ole Blighty!

But really, the whole idea that AirBNB should be able to ignore established zoning is another example of why I consider the "sharing" economy to be the "taking" economy.

Sharing space peacefully is exactly what zoning is aimed at.

Zoning is still a contested topic, it has been blamed for enabling much of the NIMBYism in America for example. Another one is creating huge traffic and commuting situations that don't need to be there by putting business in one zone, housing in another and forcing people to move between the two every day. It makes such things as shopkeeper residences where the shop is on the first floor and the family who manages it lives on the second or third floors significantly more work.

My bustling city (one of those "top US cities to move to that isn't the Bay Area or NYC") has tons of first-floor commercial, second floor residential developments, including a fair number of "row houses" zoned commercial first floor residential second and third floors where both the commercial space and residential areas are owned by the same owner. There's a huge push to build high density in this city that was formerly pretty much all low-density ten years ago.

These are all new builds in the past 8 years.

NYC had numerous building codes and restrictions previously, including the 1867 Tenement Law, and the famous 1901 new tenement law.

Buddy just asked a question that solicited an informative answer for all of us to read. Not sad.

The general "sad" for me is that HN has so many strong libertarian types who start from an assumption that government regulation is practically always wrong and done for corrupt purposes. Learning that this is not the case is a lesson one could easily pick up much earlier in life, so it's sad that they made it this far without understanding that.

I put it down to the poor state of our mathematical education. The naive understanding of economic systems libertarians display is actually fairly similar to what you see in introductory dynamical-systems courses. You can, with great care, construct some "well-behaved" systems where you present a set of rules, and the expected thing happens: you push lever X and Y happens. Raise the minimum wage and unemployment rises!

But of course, most systems are not so well-behaved, so that is only a lead-in to the real examples, where you change the setup slightly and suddenly analysis grows more complex. Now what happens when you push lever X depends on what region of the state-space you're in! And sometimes pushing lever X can change the region of the state-space you're in, too! There is feedback and internal dynamics. I see very little libertarian economics that displays even a 101-level understanding of any of that.

If you keep treating your intellectual opponents like this, you're going to get trounced the next time you run into a smart one.

To be very brief, you seem to think that libertarians believe, roughly,

(1) "the world is simple, so we should have simple rules."

Instead, you suggest:

(2) "the world is complicated, so we should have complicated rules."

But this claim is entirely unresponsive to:

(3) "the world is complicated, so we should have simple rules."

which is what most libertarians I know actually think. If you respond to (1) when your opponents are arguing for (3), you will not have productive conversations.

Our attitude towards any law really should be a presumption of doubt, especially laws that interfere with consensual activities. Laws are blunt objects that come with their own enforcement costs and unintended consequences. We should be especially wary about regulations whose benefits are sharply concentrated among a small group (say, hotel owners), and whose drawbacks (say, slightly higher hotel costs for everyone else) are widely dispersed. That's standard public choice theory. That doesn't mean that no regulations are ever justifiable (far from it!), but it does suggest that we not favor regulation for the sake of regulation.

I don't like to psychologize people, but I wonder whether this attitude is a sort of mental heuristic on the left, which often finds itself fighting with folks on the right who seem to believe, roughly, that regulation is intrinsically bad, and should be abolished. This has encouraged the counter-formation of the view that regulation is intrinsically good, and should be preserved. I guess that's a little easier to remember than the subtler view that regulation is intrinsically bad, but should sometimes be preserved when it can still improve outcomes over the status quo.

It's almost as though you have to examine things case by case and decide whether a dangerous tool should be applied, instead of just forming a mental affiliation with it.

These people are investors. Investors usually look solely at the money instead of the effects or consequences.

What NY is mainly worried about (and has the strongest public support for them worrying about) is AirBnB being used as a way of de facto running unlicensed hotels. People don't like discovering that the room down the hall from where they live has essentially been converted into a hotel room, with customers coming and going regularly, no hotel tax paid, and none of the usual health/safety regulations applied (industrial-strength fabric cleaning, etc.). By comparison, someone renting out a spare room now and then is not as likely to produce social or health problems, and most of the public probably views it as benign, even if also technically a violation of your lease.

I don't like this kind of thing as a customer, either. When I look for a place on AirBnB, I expect it to be someone's actual house/apt, which they treat as their own, because they also live there. If that's not the case, it should be made really clear up front.

Illegal hotels aka slums. There is a reason hotels are fairly highly regulated. My first (and only) stay at an Airbnb rental resulted in me getting bedbugs.

You won't be safe from bedbugs just because you're in a hotel.

the likelihood of you getting bedbugs in a hotel room is smaller than from a random room in all of NYC. Granted , the rooms up on airbnb for the moment probably don't represent a uniform cut of NYC, but considering the type of people who would start running unlicensed hotels, I'd imagine it being more likely.

I have been for my entire life, but YMMV.

It is unrealistic to expect any dwelling, whether it be hotel or hostel, to be free of bed bugs, especially if you're in a region with lots of international travelers. There is no effective insecticide for them, they can be impossible to see, and they don't need to eat for months.

Now, any decent hotel will be doing periodic checks for bedbugs around the box spring and headboard, and any other wooden furniture. But there will always exist a small chance that the last person to be in the room brought a couple and you will get them.

Good news is they don't transmit any disease, and if they bite you, it just itches for a few days and goes away.

In nearly all US jurisdictions, hotels are required to maintain units free of vermin, including bedbugs. Private residences are not. Thus, if a hotel fails to keep the room free of bedbugs, they are generally (1) obligated to refund your room charges and (2) pay to replace any luggage or clothing rendered unusable by the pest infestation.

??? If there's no effective insecticide, how do you think we're killing them? The various -methrin-based compounds are generally pretty effective, though occasionally resistant subpopulations crop up.

A shop vac removes them from a mattress.

If I read your comment correct (why is it bad for NY to be against airbnb scenarios like this) then no, it's not a bad trend. To elaborate, many places (not just the US, and not just New York) has rent-control laws. By and large not everywhere, and not all parts of the cities/counties who has. But for those that do, this is in clear violation of at least that, but also - possibly - sublet laws. That is a far fetched example though.

But the more worrying part is that it drives up prices as more and more do this (not talking 1-2 appartments in a neighbourhood, talking increasing).

Another issue is the housing situation. In many larger cities it's a real issue that there aren't enough places to live as needed.

For hotels it is bad, as it's driving business away.

So, from both sides of the spectrum this is bad. For people looking to get some extra cash (not saying it's bad - as the post also mentions, it's an active investment), and for people looking for a place to rent while on vacation, it is good.

I'm not intimately familiar with the legal landscape, but in short I think its because a) the myriad laws governing personal property are much different than those governing commercial property b) significant part of AirBNB's model ignores consumer protection laws.

In general, tenant / landlord relationships are heavily regulated - legal objections to AirBnB style rentals (pretty reasonably, in my opinion) claim that anyone who has a unit that is primarily a rental for tenants is a landlord, and should be subjected to all the regulations typically defined in that relationship - a different situation than someone who is going to be away for a few weeks renting out their own personal residence during that temporary time.

Because many of those who are renting out apartments in this manner are doing so without a "hotel license", charging the appropriate hotel taxes or otherwise abiding by laws put in place to preserve the rights of neighbors.

You could probably argue that they are most peeved about not getting the hotel taxes.

>> laws put in place to preserve the rights of neighbors. Sure about that?

If you lived in a high-rise condo and paid go money to do so, and the two places on either side of you started being rented out to random people who were there one week and gone the next, how would you feel?

As others have pointed out, residential zoning laws aren't generally the product of corporate malfeasance. Usually they are there to help combat it. That's what NIMBYism is all about.

> If you lived in a high-rise condo and paid go money to do so, and the two places on either side of you started being rented out to random people who were there one week and gone the next, how would you feel?

I probably wouldn't care because there would be no way to detect if it was happening, without me standing outside my door all night like a sentry.

Sure, I'd be annoyed if some of the guests came and went at all hours of the night and that was waking me up regularly, but that could happen just as easily with more permanent neighbors, and I'd be able to do just as little about that.

NY wants to protect the classic hotel business. Hotels and building owners need to take care of all kind of legal and administrative procedures, including security considerations for their users. Airbnb apartment owners are now competing for free with those business.

Not saying i agree, but that's the main motivation behind of Airbnb regulations, in NY and other places.

Not really - it's the rights of the neighbours, who didn't sign up to live in a hotel with people coming and going at all hours, partying, damage/wear and tear, etc.

An interesting bit of evidence that resident concerns are a common motivation: in upscale buildings, which have the funds to pay for it, the crackdown on AirBnB is in even more full swing, through "free-market policing". Some condo associations actually have employees regularly scouring AirBnB ads in their area and looking at the photos to find rentals that look like units in their building (it's often not hard to spot, if you know a building well). Then the owner is identified and sent a "stop doing that" letter, and/or sued for violating their contract.

Probably because it makes it harder for residents to find an apartment.

Perhaps in some (or even many) jurisdictions but isn't this just plain ole "Bed & Breakfast" (you know, the BnB in AirBnB) which has been around since forever?

How is this any different than VRBO, or any of the other vacation rental middlemen out there?

I suspect the difference (at least in the case of NY) is lack of regulation and kickbacks (sorry, taxes) for the local government.

If you want to visit my city and see its sights, you can "kick back" into the damn kitty that it takes to keep those sights maintained.

I'd prefer the opposite. I wish tourists didn't cover any costs of running my city. Then it would be optimized for those of us that actually live here.

If there's one thing I've learned in my old age, it's that I love buying things for people. Because then the power dynamic is in my favor: this is my city, enjoy your visit but leave no trace.

Many cities don't charge a hotel tax.

Some tourists would prefer to support the town they're visiting by directly paying shop owners, etc, instead of having "hotel taxes" of indeterminate destination tacked onto their expenses.

(But you're right, using "kickback" was needlessly offensive.)

Exactly what is the difference between what this person is doing and running an unlicensed extended-stay hotel?

"But, computers!" is the difference.

But, yeah. Pretty much.

Well, that part isn't new. An illegal flophouse is already disruptive, and it didn't require computers to operate one. The new thing here is flophouses with online booking.

Or having a guest house on your property and running a Craigslist ad to rent it out for the summer.

At what point does somebody giving me money in return for staying on my property turn my property into a hotel? I'm not talking the legal definition, I'm talking common sense.

The only working definition I can come up with is "when you reach a scale where the government can start taking a cut"

Back in the old days, that was a good-sized establishment. With computers, however, the government can go after anybody -- including lots of folks that earlier slipped through the cracks.

Easy: at the point where your sole use of the property is for short-term rentals.

The guy in question stayed in the apartment himself and let friends stay for free. So he's off the hook; short-term rental wasn't the sole use of the property.


This entire line of argumentation relies on the fact that there is (maybe) not a clear distinction between hotel and not-hotel.

Engineer-ish types take this to mean that the line is arbitrary and therefore irrelevant, concerns addressed by that distinction are invalid, and efforts to circumvent/exploit it are victories in the battle against analog logic. Other people understand that fuzzy definitions do not mean that the distinction therein is imaginary, merely difficult to identify.

If you've ever heard the phrase "don't throw out the baby with the bathwater," it applies here.

Throwing out the baby with the bathwater is preventing people like OP from doing what he's doing just because some guests might be a nuisance. What about we fine the house owner over those guests instead?

The problem is that the article itself tells us that AirBnB's protection mechanism to keep bad renters out it is broken (don't leave bad reviews for fear of getting bad reviews yourself). So AirBnB is taking all the benefit from this market, without providing a working way to curb any abuses.

My guess is that the fine is either a slap on the wrist (so the house owner just chalks it up to business expense) or so sever that the house owner stops doing short-term rentals entirely. I've not used AirBNB, but I assume that the house owner doesn't really know anything about the renters most of the time.

One solution might be to pass the fine onto the renters, but that leads to another problem: "Quiet" renters would probably be more put off by the possibility of an extra surprise charge than "Party" renters. The latter category probably ignore the penalty clause when booking the apartment and then try to avoid paying the fine after the fact. So now your set of renters is mostly loud partiers and the problem is even worse.

> My guess is that the fine is either a slap on the wrist (so the house owner just chalks it up to business expense) or so sever[e] that the house owner stops doing short-term rentals entirely.

This is tautologous. Either the owner does not cease to rent out his unit, in which case fines are a business expense, or he does. What sort of third option were you imagining might happen?

The fine should high enough to serve as deterrent. If the house owner doesn't know anything about the renters, s/he can either ask for a bond from the tenants that covers the fine (and deal with the loss of customers) or AirBnB or a competitor could offer better vetting of tenants.

I think we agree on this point.

My post was in response to the parent, which suggested that any property "solely" used for short-term leases should be regulated.

I was not suggesting that was a useful or appropriate test. Leaving aside the question of whether regulation is necessary, a "dominant purpose" or even "substantial purpose" test would lead to less absurdity.

So the guest house example. A hotel? Or because it's part of the property you also live in, not-a-hotel?

If I bought an apartment building and lived in the penthouse, could I rent all the apartments out short-term and not be a hotel?

No. Hotels do this all the time (see, e.g., the Ritz Carlton, which sells condos at the top of its hotels). Just having someone live in the building is not enough to make a hotel not a hotel.

Letting someone live in your apartment while you're temporarily away (or while you're still present) is a very different thing from regularly renting out a unit in which you don't reside. If you can't see the difference between those situations, I don't know much more clearly I can make it.


You just deferred the problem to the definition of "sole."

Indeed, for many Airbnb hosts occupy their property at least part of the time. In fact, I think that's the niche it has filled best. There were already rental agencies (indeed, online ones!) to deal with permanent short-term rental properties. Airbnb offered a particularly hassle-free conduit for those who just want to rent their property out some of the time, such as folks who have multiple properties in various locations, occupy it seasonally, travel a lot for work, live abroad part-time, etc.

Your argument presumes that an extended-stay hotel needs to be licensed. I don't buy it.

Well seeing as you'd be obligated to collect things like hotel occupancy taxes in most cities and states, and all sorts of consumer protection laws apply to hotels, the reasonable assumption is licensing is required. At the minimum, you need a business licence.

To me the issue is scale. Just like people can hold garage sales or lemonade stand w/o a license vs running a bar.

By same token - I don't mind someone renting out AN apartment. If the issue is tax - Airbnb can simply collect it on behalf of the renter. As far as consumer protection - the guest deals with AirBnB and not an individual host.

If license was obtained by simply filling out a web form and paying a fee - I'd be all for it. But the way things are now, the whole issue of licensing is about protecting the hotel industry.

If you live across the street from me and have a garage sale every day of the week, we're going to have a problem. Your casual dismissal of licensing and oversight, as merely protections for the entrenched, overlooks the fact that there is more than one interested party here.

I have to agree with the upstream commenter's general sentiment that this idea gets all the support here because it lends itself to an easy narrative of armchair libertarianism #winning

Yeah, that's the difference for me also. If my neighbor rents out a couch or spare room on AirBnB a few times a year, no problem. If he is running it as a 365-day-a-year hotel, much more of a problem.

What if he/she dated and brought home 365 people a year? You may not like it .. but it is really your business what someone does in the privacy of their own home?

The moment the person operates it as a hotel, the person has turned it into a business and semi-public space and regulation does not affect the privacy of the owner. In the dating scenario, on the other hand, it would.

There's a lot of behaviour that is undesirable to neighbours because it directly and negatively affect our lives, that we are still willing to accept (if possibly grudgingly) if doing anything about it would mean interfering in someones private life.

Ugh. My sister says the same thing: If someone does something for profit, suddenly it's everyone's business.

I don't get the logic at all.

And no one tried to justify it.

Ok, so the issue is not really licensing, if we get honest.

Instead you don't want your next door neighbor to rent out his apartment on a full-time basis and see requirement to obtain a license as a measure that would prevent that from happening.

I do agree it's a valid concern - but I'm not really sure why we need extra laws for this. The guests are either doing something illegal or they are not - in which case, I don't see any problem.

No, you don't know what the point of licensing is about.

If you drive badly, what will the police do with your license?

Fine - so let's make obtaining an 'airbnb license' as easy as the driver one. Then if host has issues - take it away.

But somehow I imagine that red tape required to obtain a hotel license is significantly longer, benefiting large companies.

And the infrastructure and regulations to administer an airbnb license just pop out of the ground magically?

I don't think it's a reasonable assumption.

Your argument presumes that an extended-stay hotel needs to be licensed. I don't buy it.

Neither do I. This is not something the State needs to be involved in at all.

There's something analogous to the weak anthropic principle here in that we mostly live in places where the problems that come with unlicensed hotels have been stomped out, sometimes for generations, largely through successful regulation.

I don't think we are against hotel regulation. We just don't consider renting one's apartment on Airbnb the same as a hotel.

State involvement is probably preferable to angry neighbors taking matters into their own hands.

Nothing. I like it.

And the neighbors may not. Licensing isn't just about the man screwing you over.

Airbnb's review system fills the roll of licenser.

Does AirBnB's review system let neighbors to the property file negative reviews?

Do potential AirBnb customers care about the opinions of neighbors? Also, does government regulation/zoning let neighbors file reviews?

> Also, does government regulation/zoning let neighbors file reviews?

Yes, that's part of the point of it. I live in an apartment building. My neighbor, who lives the next door down from me, lives in another residential apartment. We get along fine. However, we would get along considerably less fine if he were to open a dance club, a restaurant, or a hotel in his apartment. It is zoned residential, so this is not an issue. But I would be very interested if there were a proposal to change this zoning, because the situation of sharing a thin wall with a household, versus sharing one with a techno club or a hotel or a cinema, differs considerably. And indeed, there is a mandatory public notice and comment period if there were a proposal to change the zoning. If it were allowed at all, they would likely be required to upgrade the noise insulation, in the case of a hotel to have regular inspections for bedbugs, etc.

I am not aware of AirBnB running a similar consultation process where they give me public notice that my neighbor plans to turn his place into a full-time hotel room, and allows me to file objections. I also suspect the rigor of their health oversight is lacking.

They're disrupting an obsolete industry.

No, travel agents were an obsolete industry.

Hotels are not obsolete, AirBnB is 'disrupting' the industry by ignoring local laws and regulations. It may be that these regulations exist to protect an obsolete business model but it also might not.

When your path is blocked by a fence before you tear it down, its a good idea to understand why it was put up in the first place.

In my personal experience, I love travel agents. They were able to:

(1) Make valuable recommendations (2) Offer me a better price than any website (3) Save me hours upon hours of wasted time

I actually still use a travel agent for nicer vacation bookings. I almost always pay the same price as on the website, but get upgrades, free breakfast, spa credits, etc. etc.

When it's more than the website, I do a cost-benefit analysis and decide whether the value I'll derive from paying a slightly higher price for amenities is worth it or not.

And, I get the benefit of the travel agent's expertise, as you say, who knows a little bit about me and what I care about. Sure I can do the research myself (and I will often do so), but it's nice to get all this stuff for basically nothing.

(2) only because they are members of larger organizations that can strong arm prices down.

(1) I'd rather the aggregate recommendations of a million people than the personal opinion of just one in most of these situations - you want the statistical mean experience, because a travel agent can be given special treatment or just have had a lucky streak placing clients in an otherwise seedy place.

(3) Hopefully another thing tech can fix. I mean, yeah, you have the rare extremely special case circumstance you can't easily break down into a power search, so they have a niche, but as a general tool for people looking for places to stay, you really don't need another fleshy body directly involved with the seeker.

(2) Yay! The client wins! :) On a more serious note: That is how internet companies continue to stay in business: automate, lower prices, increase competition, etc. Agents just beat them at their game.

(1) How many online reviews are fake? How many are written out of spite? There is a level of trust you have to give someone: either an online reviewer or a person.

(3) Having a human to work with is usually better service than not. But it really depends on the situation.

Edit: I'd like to mention that I am not an agent of any sort. I do more business online than anyone I know, but I also realize the pros/cons of both sides of the spectrum.

> (1) How many online reviews are fake? How many are written out of spite? There is a level of trust you have to give someone: either an online reviewer or a person.

That is why I quantify pretty explicitly a million - I'd never consider any sampling below, say, a hundred reviews, and even then you have to accept the inherent inertial bias that anyone content with their experience won't review it, and disproportionately people will complain about a negative one than praise a great stay. You need enough aggregate results to smother false reviews or non-systemic bias.

> (3) Having a human to work with is usually better service than not. But it really depends on the situation.

It is really situational, but one critical aspect of the information age is a litmus test on every human service position on whether or not actually having gassy meat on one end of the transaction is really worth the comparatively huge costs of keeping said meat bag alive and happy. And it is a personal test - which is why most industries that have been displaced by the Internet still exist to serve the population that values that interaction.

I worked in hospitality for 5 years, and right now I'm staying at a hotel in downtown Vegas, a few miles from the author's Airbnb place. Hotels are obsolete. It's not the business model, short-term housing and hospitality certainly have no risk of obsolescence ever, it's the industry.

Service sucks, rooms suck, tech really sucks. You have awkward kids in bad suits and clip-on ties at the front desk who're trained to use Romantic terminology over Germanic. That's at the better places.

I'm staying at the original, and seemingly one of the better, Fremont Street places, in town for a quarterly meetup for the startup I'm at. The wifi costs $12.99 a day, they throttled my connection the one time I used it trying to make a viddy call, and last night I was connected to the router but nothing was coming through. I've had similar experiences around the country, for the past 10 years, and seen little improvement. I convinced the hospitality company I was at, and some that I consulted with, that the wifi is as important as the running water, but you can tell most don't feel that way.

I got in the other night around 10pm, went to a touchscreen terminal they overpaid for, and I haven't seen a single person use over this week here, but didn't have a confirmation because someone at the company booked it, so used a phone sitting next to the kiosk to call a representative, who directed me around to find a desk that I'd passed and disregarded because it was labeled as "Tickets", then spent a good half-hour getting checked-in because of various confusion and technical glitches and dozens and dozens of key-presses in their property management system.

Then, there are the guests. As soon as someone stays at a hotel, they think they're entitled to act like an asshole. It seems to usually boil down to them feeling like they overpaid, regretting the decision, and taking it out on some staff member. They know that the people around them are either other customers or employees, and treat them with ambivalence because there are no consequences or accountability. Guests can review a hotel, hotels can't review guests.

A couple weeks ago, I stayed at an Airbnb place for the first time, outside of Boston. We texted the host when we were coming, took the T, ending up on an awesome light-rail car at the end that I didn't know about, walked through a beautiful neighborhood, knocked on the door, chatted with the host for a minute, and were shown to our room. Totally painless, which made it easy to feel gracious and respectful of the host and his property and neighbors. Had a great breakfast at a local place, because good places are in residential areas. All you can find around hotels are crappy chains. You know, because of the zoning. And that good places don't want to deal with pissed off hotel guests.

The fence is coming down. Hotels are doomed.

I love hotels (specifically, Starwood and Inter-Continental, especially in Asia), and spend about 50-100 nights/year in hotels.

I infrequently use VRBO to rent a house somewhere without great hotels (and have tried AirBnB but outside SF, never worked out really well), but otherwise, the hotel experience is basically awesome for me. There is one set of tweaks I'd like to do (maybe to make a brand-within-a-brand for Westin or something), where guests get a standard network config in any room once they sign in, with MFC device in-room, VoIP phone, their own wifi settings, etc.), but otherwise it's awesome.

Being able to basically trust an international 5-star hotel to have a certain level of physical security and functionality (or to be able to add it) even in a place like Myanmar or Pakistan is great.

Being able to show up at 0200 and reliably know there will be people to check me in, that my stuff won't get stolen, that I can leave luggage and equipment, that a meeting with ~16 people won't be a problem with short notice, that the building meets basic fire safety, ...

The crappy hotels like Motel 6 or Super 8, sure, suck, but I avoid those.

Yep. I haven't done much with AirBnB and its ilk but I do often try to go the B&B route rather than the-big-chain-hotel (or even the smaller not-so-chain-hotel) route. But, as you say, especially for business travel, a lot of the time I just want something predictable that meets a certain standard. I don't want to be concerned that if my plans change and I don't get in until 9 that there won't be anyone there to let me in, etc. I frankly just don't have the mental energy to deal with on-offs for the whole 1/3 of the year or so I travel.

If the only thing that is causing you grief is the check-in check-out process, it is worth noting that some owners do try to streamline this process as much as possible. I for one try to keep contact with the person down to a minimum. Because you guys are right, I don't want to talk to anyone after 12 hours of travel.

50-100 nights/year in good hotels is not for everyone. May I ask how you foot the bill?

A combination of aggressive use of hotel points (eg I paid for 7 nights in Bali just now, about 100-150/night for huge suites with my girlfriend, and am doing 14 days in Bangkok starting 5 nov for free on the points I earned (due to promos, etc).) and work reimbursement. I'm also sort of homeless in that I don't pay rent. (Gf has condo).

A lot is work reimbursed (looks like about 200 nights in 2014 if things go well), plus Starwood points from work and personal Amex.

A quick list of gripes is a pretty unconvincing argument that hotels are "doomed". There is no guarantee that any of those things would be better at an AirBnB. Likewise, a corresponding list of gripes could be assembled for AirBnB-like services. Neither type of service seems "doomed", although the AirBnB-type stuff is probably on shakier ground at the moment, merely due to the legal gray areas.

The big thing for me, is predictability. If I book in at a chain hotel in particular, especially a chain I've stayed at before, I have a certain expectation that the standard is roughly en par, and that the level of hassles will be similar. If I book via AirBnB, I have no idea if the next host will be anything like the previous, and have to put in effort checking reviews. It's hassle I might take if I'm going to spend lots of time planning a long vacation. Not something I want to deal with for short stays or business trips.

Here's the alternate view:

I used to "commute" to the Bay Area every 6-8 weeks for a couple of years. I'd stay a week each time. A hotel offered me a certain expected standard of service, which might not be great, but it was there. It offered me regular cleaning. It meant I had a reasonable expectation of a room of the standard expected of the hotel whenever I came over, as the number of rooms available meant I did not have to deal with people who had a single room or a handful of units available that'd regularly book up.

After a handful of trips, I had my list of 3 preferred hotels in the area, and knew I'd generally get one of the types of rooms I liked best every time I came over.

And every now and again I made use of room service or laundry services, and those few instances were themselves often worth it. But most of the time I spent a total of perhaps 10 minutes dealing with hotel staff over the course of a 1 week stay.

For a lot of people, hotels offers a certain set of expectations that might very well not include "great service" to be worthwhile. Not having the risk of suddenly dealing with some owner flaking on me would alone make picking a hotel worth it. When arriving after 16 hours of travel (11 hour flight + annoying time on both ends), I wanted to be able to walk up to the desk at the hotel, present them my details, including my bonus card, and know I'd be in the room and relaxing five minutes later, with no hassle.

"Walking through a beautiful neighbourhood" or chatting with a host would be far down the list of things going through my head at that time. In fact, my boss at the time lived nearby, in a beautiful, expensive house in Palo Alto, and I did stay with him once and it was nice as a social thing. But the hotels, while far less personal have what for many travellers is an advantage of being extremely predictable.

So no, hotels are not doomed at all. Some hotels might lose some types of customers. Likely the type of customers that are fickle and leave money in local breakfast places rather than in their restaurants, care about the cost of extras because they pay for it out of their own pocket, and otherwise generally contribute less to their profits anyway.

OK, asshole here:

"Then, there are the guests. As soon as someone stays at a hotel, they think they're entitled to act like an asshole."

You know, you may have a tremendously challenging job, are jet-lagged and still have to give 100%. Then you pay 400 Euro for a hotel and they charge you another 30 or 40 Euros per day for Wifi. You get annoyed but you don't care because you will get reimbursed. Wifi will be unreliable and you can only connect four devices at a time. And while this did not bother me, it bothered some of my colleagues that were travelling with an extended family (I mean, Computer, Phone and eReader may eat up already 3 out of 4).

And then you have the fancy shower. I tried for five minutes to get it to work. Manged to get water for a few seconds twice. Finally, while having a PhD in engineering, called the front desk to send somebody to show me how the shower works. No, it was not me. "plumbing problems, please wait 15 minutes". And another 15 minutes, and another 15 minutes. Finally it was time to go to bed without a shower.

So, yes, hotel guest can be annoying and can be "picky". But if I pay 400 Euros for a night then a working shower with preferably warm water and a reliable internet connection can be expected.

The probability of getting cheap reliable internet is inversely proportional to the cost of the room, I've found.

> The fence is coming down. Hotels are doomed.

doubt it.

1. Corporate business and negotiated rates (a large % of business) 2. Groups (unless you cram 20 - 40 people in an airbnb room?) - this includes conferences, conventions, aircrew, functions, tour groups) (another large % of the business)

This assumes we're talking about city hotels with a normal(ish) business mix, but individual travellers often don't make up the largest portion of business for the hotel (this really does vary, but outside of pure tourist and transit areas it's roughly accurate). Add into the mix the zoning and health & safety requirements, and I'm not sure you could call "doomed" just yet.

There is scope for (ahem) disruption in booking and distribution, which we already see - but the physical product is probably going to be around for some time. Sometimes, you just need a big building with lots of rooms...

Airbnb is for people with more time than money. Hotels are for people with more money than time (they do not want to spend time chatting to arraange a booking, or to set up social proof for themselves on yet another social network just so that people will consider them).

My one Airbnb experience was massively negative because I value my time.

Hotels are not remotely doomed. Demand for them may go down, though.

Doomed? You've obviously never stayed in a Four Seasons or any other five star hotel...

Oh , yeah , "DISSSSRUPT" ! the new startup leitmotiv.

that gives them or any "DISSSSRUPTIVE!" startup the right to break the law , doesnt it ? as long as it's on the web , anything goes,hey...

Just to be clear: your answer is, "nothing", right?

well, there's the whole blogging about it aspect, so not entirely nothing. :)

I think he's saying that the previous industry that airbnb is disrupting is "nothing". As in, there was nothing pre-existing that satisfied the same demand as airbnb.

No, both of us are saying that buying a house to rent out full time is no different than running a hotel. "nothing" is the difference. tptacek appears to have recognized the sarcasm, but apparently nobody else did. I win again.

Yes, you're right of course. I must have jumped the rails tracing back up through the thread.

Is insurance obsolete? How about tax? How about making sure businesses aren't run in inappropriate locations?

It’s possible to find a nice apartment in a major city for less than $50,000. The place I found was in Las Vegas and it cost $40,000.

Wow, I had no idea things were that good/bad. Here in the UK, I deliberately choose to live in a cheap part of the country and you'd still be talking $120k or so for an equivalent 1 bed flat. This really illustrates to me why efforts to turn various areas in the US into "mini Silicon Valley" areas could actually work.. when you can have a good, secure base for a year's salary, it surely changes your attitude to risk.

I don't think there's anywhere in the UK you could buy a house for under $100K where you wouldn't be getting bricks through your window or dealing with gangs of chavs on a daily basis. I wonder if this goes part of the way to explain why Brits are far more reluctant to take risks in the entrepreneurial sense.. you gotta be on a darn good salary to have a place of your own anywhere on our isles.

Several aspects you may want to consider on UK vs US:

- the population density of the UK as a whole is about 7x greater. The US has really got a lot of space that could still be built on.

- there is limited reason to live in Las Vegas unless you work in hospitality (although there has been a recent boom- and bust-cycle).

- housing market tends to be more divergent in the US than in the UK: it's more likely you can find some city that's relatively cheap.

I think you exaggerate. zoopla and some research gives me (all city centre addresses):

Manchester - £55K+

Leeds - £70K+

Birmingham - £45K+

Hull - 50K

Bristol - 100K

Norwich - 70K


If you're happy with a small village then I think you can find even cheaper.

You're talking in terms of pounds, $100k is approximately £63k. I'm inclined to agree with the parent here, good luck finding a place in a decent area in Manchester for less than £100k.

Yes, I think the OP is rather mis-informed. There are plenty of places in the UK where you can get a one bed apartment for between £50-70k and not get a 'brick through the window'.

Are these places you're likely to be able to rent out to full capacity on AirBNB? That's a different question.

I said "a house for under $100K" not a one bed flat. The one bed flat comparison was in my first paragraph.

Where in the UK are you going to pick up a (small) house in a non-rough area of a city for ~£61k? Let alone the equivalent of Las Vegas.. (don't say Blackpool!)

As someone who owns property in the UK, has lived in numerous areas of it, and is actively looking for somewhere new to live, I hope I'm not too misinformed in this area, but standards do vary. I'd contend you'd find nothing as attractive as the Las Vegas pad in the UK at such prices though.

> the equivalent of Las Vegas..

Are you referring to the glut of available real estate, or the tourist attraction? Or is there some other thing that makes Las Vegas special?

The solution is simple, get an apartment above the 3rd floor and no one will be able to throw a brick high enough.

I live in London. I'm looking at >$600k for my first apartment. Jon's apartment in Vegas would be a small fraction of my deposit.

Ugh, I feel sick. And need to move.

If it makes you feel any better (I'm sure it won't), folks in San Francisco and New York face similar.

Las Vegas is somewhat unique in having low housing prices coupled with a huge tourist market which makes such a setup workable.

Well, it makes me see the appeal of the Vegas tech scene ;)

as far as i'm concerned, though, is that other than zappos... there really isn't that much of a tech scene there. tony hsieh has been trying to develop one, and has put a lot of his own money behind it, but honestly i doubt it's going to work.

but then you'd have to live in Vegas...

Don't move to Vancouver, Canada. We are right up in in unaffordability, just like London, NY, Hong Kong, SF, Zurich etc.

Aren't you guys in a bubble?

Maybe - I can't see prices ever dropping significantly though. Maybe 20%, but they'll always be intimidatingly expensive for first-time buyers.

Lehman Bros collapsed because their computer models excluded the possibility of a major decline in real estate prices. Investor confidence is a contrary indicator.

London has its own economy when it comes to property. Prices have soared to a new record high just in a month (+10%).

So yes, I think the capital is overheating.

I feel your pain.

Blame the governments of both Labor and Tory persuasion that decided that it should be incredibly difficult to build new housing virtually anywhere in the country. In particular the pernicious greenbelt rules and the grotesque planning permission process. Also worthy of special condemnation are London's protected views.

Your GitHub says Cambridge, is that true? I am in Cambridge and it is not cheap here.

No, I live in the middle of Lincolnshire. Cambridge is a relatively easy 2 hour drive though and GitHub only let me choose from a limited number of UK cities (at least at the time I set up my profile).

But yeah, Cambridge is ridiculously expensive. So, increasingly, though is rural Lincolnshire! I'm looking for a 4 bed house close to town and £250k is about the minimum for something decent. I suspect that would barely buy a nice flat in Cambridge though..!

Here's one for £65K in Brora - not the most attractive of properties but Brora is a pretty nice town (bit out of the way though):


[Brora is also home to my favourite whisky - Clynelish]

"bit out of the way" - I thought where I was living in West Dorset was remote :D

I wouldn't say Brora is that remote - it's about an hour from Inverness by car, is on the main A9 road and is on the Far North Line.

Somewhere like Arnisdale or, even better, Inverie in Knoydart are far more remote (the latter is probably the only village on Great Britain that has no road access).

I also find this incredible. Particularly when you can spend $50k just renting a place in Vegas for three months. I realise there are slums in Vegas but the place actually looks quite nice for the money.

$200/month for an unlimited cleaning lady? Those are Thailand/China prices. Crazy.

Seems like a clever way to skirt labor laws to me.


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