The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
I retired from a 30 year teaching career in 2006 at age 66. My monthly retirement income was approximately $2300. My house includes a small garage apartment which I had been renting to local people before my retirement but after several unpleasant experiences with renters I had decided that the apartment income wasn't worth the stress. Being a very small space, the apartment was only attractive to people who were looking for a cheap place to live so many of my renters were unable to pay their rent, they left huge messes for me to clean and caused damage to the property. I had police come to my door asing about one renter, my neighbors complained, and I felt like I was spending about as much on upkeep as I was earning from the rent. Then one day my daughter told me about a company that matched up people who wanted to rent space with travelers who were looking for a place to stay. So I decided to start thinking of my little apartment as a bed and breakfast and to give Airbnb a try. After being with Airbnb for 3 years, I now take pride in making my space as attractive as possible and interacting in a helpful way with the interesting people who use it. Beaumont, Texas is an industrial town, pleasant and interesting in its own way but not exactly a tourist haven. My guests are people who are here for short term job assignments and contract work. I have hosted a physical therapist, a nursing home administrator, several people with Mobiloil, and a paramedic among others. They appreciate having a quiet place to stay in a safe, attractive neighborhood. I clean the apartment for my guests on the weekends and count that as my workout. Now instead of a source of worry, my apartment is a source of pride. It adds about $600 to my monthly income which helps a lot. I take great pride in making sure it is attractive and welcoming to my guests and it gives me satisfaction to think of myself as a business woman actively engaged in managing my enterprise. And now the business has come full circle. Last year when my daughter was complaining about difficulty meeting her monthly expenses, I suggested that she rent the upstairs portion of her house. Airbnb is giving both of us access to income and experiences that we could not have found on our own. I am grateful for their help which has made renting my apartment such a positive experience.