The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop #00058

Submission Number:
Dennis Lapic
Initiative Name:
The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
Re: temporary rental of residential rooms Like most American workers, I never thought I'd face my senior years below the poverty line, but I'm there now as the dollars don't add up. It's not that I hadn't planned, but the best laid plans failed me. While working full time it took me over 8 years to earn an MBA part-time, but the Fortune 100 Company who helped pay the tuition failed before I could get that plum position. In the next company I worked my way up the sales charts to be a number two performer and was fired for being a Reservist. So I stayed in the Army reserve to maintain some work stability and attain a small pension taking any mobilization I could to earn money and build my pension points. But I knew that would still not be enough and still needed to supplement my retirement income, so while serving in Iraq I decided to restore an historic house I owned to be a B&B so I'd have a working retirement income. My love of history and desire to save a long neglected log house from our early republic was going to require a lot of time and money to save. But our historic structures are our heritage. I wanted to encourage preservation in our long neglected historic district but knew the main complaint from potential restorers was the tremendous cost and lack of pay back. The key to saving historic buildings is to reutilize them so that the owner can earn back his investment. So as the only person ever to restore a house at the Old Economy Landmark District I set out on a plan to set an example to others and to provide a retirement home and income for my family. Spending all by retirement savings and more by going into debt I labored under the misconception that I could let some of my rooms in my own home once finished and even built a business plan to that effect. But the rude awakening that I encountered as I neared completion of the restoration was very troubling. The amount of regulations was beyond anything I has ever imagined. In Pennsylvania there is no one single regulation or guide for a B&B. The PA food code defines a B&B as a residence in which someone rents rooms, so I was defined as a residence. But the PA building code says if you rent one room you've changed your occupancy so that a commercial occupancy permit is required. So along with all the onerous and expensive upgrades in the name of safety that law equated me and my couple rental rooms as a commercial business equivalent as a huge corporation such as a Hilton hotel. Our municipality allows B&B's in the historic district where the house is located yet almost every house in the historic district is too small to accommodate all mandatory upgrades required to meet commercial code and to also leave the very living space for the owner let alone any temporary occupants. And the county is all so eager to collect their 3% hotel tax and designates as a hotel a home if it rents just one room squeezing a pensioner of a piece of potential income. As the true rate of inflation is much higher than reported since medical, food and fuel are excluded from the reports -- all the costs that squeeze a senior like myself wishing to earn supplemental income in the B&B business - It now makes sense to me why desperate people are flying under the radar in the gray area of AirBNB to let a room to keep from losing everything. My grandmother used to tell me stories of her Depression era experiences how her family squeezed into the first floor of her home so they could rent the upper rooms to make ends meet. With all our advances, I'm now no further ahead than my ancestors who lived through a major economic depression. So I appeal to you that you make exception to all regulations that block home owners from earning a few extra dollars to earn extra dollars. A major corporation won't miss the few dollars I would take away from their bottom line. Every dollar I earn is a dollar that keeps me away from government assistance, into a mortgage, and paying taxes