Will the Real airbnb Please Stand Up ?

A “humble home-sharing service”
or a  $24 Billion corporation?

Helps people stay in their homes
or helps turns homes into vacation rentals?

A new “Sharing Economy”
or just old fashioned profiteering?

A new age “angel” or a “devil” in disguise?

In a few short years the airbnb website ( www.airbnb.com ) has gone from promoting “shared room” rentals (couch surfing), to host-resident “private room” rentals (mini-B&Bs), to host-absent “entire place” rentals (vacation rentals).

  • airbnb now has listings in 190 Countries and 34,000 Cities
  • airbnb has hosted over 30 million Guests and now hosts 2 million Guests per month
  • airbnb has a current valuation of over $24 billion … more than Marriot Hotels
  • airbnb is projecting revenues of $850 million in 2015

As a result, cities across the United States (and around the world) are scrambling to deal with the growing reality of airbnb short-term rentals and the emergence of the so called “sharing economy”. The associated issues are many and complex, and they vary from city to city. My city (Portland, Oregon) has been working for over two years to develop a comprehensive short-term renal policy that …

  • Allows airbnb hosts to be licensed and operate at a reasonable cost
  • Protects guest and neighbors
  • Allows The City to collect Hotel Tax
  • Is enforceable
  • Maintains the stock of month-to-month rental housing

A comprehensive policy addresses all types of short-term rentals as shown in the chart below. Comprehensive Short-term Rental Policy

To understand the impact of airbnb rentals on neighbors and neighborhoods, it is critical to recognize the difference between airbnb Host-Resident “Private Room” rentals and airbnb Host-Absent “Entire Place” rentals.

  • airbnb Host-Resident “Private Room Rentals (mini-B&B’s) are generally benign, do not create problems for neighbors, do not deplete the stock of month-to-month rental housing (except for long-term roommate rentals), and are the source of most airbnb Love Stories.
  • In contrast, airbnb Host-Absent “Entire Place” rentals (really vacation rentals) create problems for neighbors, deplete the stock of month-to-month rentals (if operating on an ongoing basis), and are the source of most airbnb Horror Stories.

The purpose of this BLOG is to provide information and resources to people and cities around the world working to appropriately regulate airbnb. If you are new to this site, you may want to start with The Basics.

 Click here to get statistics about airbnb rentals in your city.

Steve Unger, Editor

Steve Unger worked in software marketing in Silicon Valley for 16 years. Then 12 years ago he moved to Portland, Oregon and became an innkeeper (the Lion and the Rose Victorian Bed & Breakfast). Today Steve hosts 2,000 guests a year. His combination of technology marketing and innkeeping experience give him a unique perspective on airbnb.

Learn about Steve on LinkedIn