The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop #00198

Submission Number:
Erin Cohen
Initiative Name:
The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
My husband, our two small children, and I host the basement apartment of our house on Airbnb and have done so since August 2014. We charge about $65 per night and have hosted more than 55 couples and families so far. The money we earn from Airbnb helped me pay down my student loans faster than I would've been able to and it helped me pay off my credit cards. All money from our airbnb goes towards loans of some sort. We've had a great experience so far. We've met people from all walks of life, from many different countries - england, france, australia, venezuela...we even hosted a world class professional skiier. People staying in our space come to Denver and spend money. They hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, they visit the Denver zoo and museums. They spend money at the restaurants we recommend. And so far, because of Airbnb's safety and trust measure's, we have felt very safe with the guests we've welcomed into our house - which is important since we have a 6 year old, an 18 month old, and a new baby on the way. There are at least 5 verifications required by Airbnb before a guest can book with me. Plus, I only let people book if they have a positive review. Without a positive review, I interview the person through the Airbnb app - it is easy to do. I can also check the person's name in facebook, twitter, and linkedin to make sure they are who they say they are. Airbnb also lets me limit how long a guest can stay - my limit is 15 days and my minimum is 2 nights. So far, we have not had any guests make false claims about their identities. No guests have tried to defraud me or Airbnb of payment because all payment is done via credit/debit card through the Airbnb app. Additionally, so far, no guests have done any damage to my property or to my neighbor's property. All guests have been extremely respectful of my property, my rules, and my family. Airbnb has allowed us to meet a lot of neat, new people. But it has also given us some much needed financial breathing room while offering a comfortable, safe, and clean space to tourists and their families to Denver. Moreover, for the 2014 tax season, I fully paid my taxes for the income I recieved from airbnb. Through some fairly simple research, I learned how to do this on turbo tax and fully paid what was owed to the government. In my opinion, Airbnb is a win for everyone. It is a win for my family because we earn a bit more money to help with our expenses. For the guests, it is a win because they get to stay in a space close to downtown Denver for a fraction of a hotel price in an arguably more comfortable and quiet space. It is a win for Denver because the dollars freed up by staying in my cheaper space allow them to spend more on local businesses in Denver.