Before a couple of weeks ago I would have had to say – no, I think airbnb is a cool idea but I’ve never stayed anywhere via their portal. That’s not true any longer, I’ve taken the plunge. It wasn’t a big deal at all and that’s pretty much a good thing.
Yesterday it was reported in Crain’s NY than 72% of airbnb offerings were basically illegal (or as it was put by NY attorney general Eric Schneiderman ‘. That they violate the law.
Don’t worry – it’s not a legion of grandma’s and grandpa’s renting out their spare room, nor is it mostly individuals that are looking for income to make ends meet by renting a room, a second home, or whatever they can on a person-to-person basis via airbnb. No It’s – yes you guessed it, mainly corporations.
From yesterday’s Crain’s New York article:
‘It is generally legal to rent out a room while the homeowner or tenant is present, but many listings violated city zoning laws because the legal resident of the unit was away when the Airbnb client stayed there, a spokesman for Mr. Schneiderman said.
Additionally, he said, some listings violated state tax laws.
The report charged that large operators controlled a disproportionate number of listings.
According to the report, just 6% of hosts ran large-scale operations, but that group generated 36% of all rental transactions and collected 37% of total revenue, or $168 million.’
So renting the spare room is very much ok – particularly if you stay there. I do not have information on the percentages of airbnb hosts that live or stay on the premises while their guests enjoy their stay.
In my case my wife and I stayed at an airbnb duplex condo on a recent trip to Florida. We were there visiting our daughter and it was a big football weekend with it being parent’s weekend and well, it’s college football in the state of Florida. What I am trying to paint a picture of is that there were almost no hotel rooms available even two months prior to the weekend. We had wanted to try airbnb (ok I had wanted to try airbnb – my wife was less than enthused) and it was the best option for the price.
How was our experience? Meh. We knew there would be nobody else there. The place was conveniently located (something we knew prior), large (something we knew prior), it had a full size small bed (something we knew prior and just accepted due to lack of other options). It had ‘antiques’ (something we knew prior but did not value and for good reason. Relics would be a more apt description).
The general appearance of the place reminded me of an old 1970’s TV episode (Like Columbo – but no sign of the great Peter Falk). It was dark, kind of musty and kind of tired. The place was clean – mostly. Here’s the big thing – it was rated five stars on airbnb. FIVE STARS? I dare offer that while I admit I have what might be considered rather discerning standards, not one person reading this post would give it five stars. Two stars maybe.
Would I stay in an airbnb-listed place ever again? I would not rule it out on the basis of one experience in one city. The thought of staying in someone else’s house in a spare room is the only option for some people. I am interested in having more experience in this aspect of the sharing economy. It’s all because I think Uber, Lyft, airbnb, HomeAway, all are just cool.
But be mindful of the ratings. One man’s dump is another’s Ritz-Carlton.