The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
We've been hosting through airbnb as a way to make extra money off of our property for about the past year. At first we were leary, unsure if it was the right decision for us, concerned about trust, communication and who might end up in our home. But, as a middle-class, self-employed family trying to make ends meet through the struggling economy for the past few years, we felt we needed to utilize everything at our disposal to support our children and stay afloat. Despite our initial reservations about the process, we are a complete success story! First off, we have found airbnb to be a completely reliable and safe option for us. Their background verifications of potential guests and additional insurance they hold for us and our property, reassures us that we are protected and that safety is one of their #1 concern, as well. In addition, as we were setting up our property to host guests, we found great resources on the airbnb website to help guide us towards understanding what we needed to do to make sure that our property was up to all the required safety standards of any other rental property or even hotel. They also had information to guide us on contacting local government, tax and insurance agencies to make sure we were documenting everything appropriately, had the appropriate homeowners insurance on our property to protect us and our guests, and that we knew to register to pay all the necessary taxes locally (sales and occupancy taxes). They also collected our tax information so they could send us our 1099s at the end of the year to document the rental income we made. Throughout the year they have communicated with us on a variety of topics from cleanliness and safety of the rented spaces to marketing and advertising. For us, it has been a lifesaver! We went from barely being able to pay our bills each month to being able to afford our mortgage and health insurance, and for the first time in five years, we are getting ahead! We were able to keep our small, local landscaping company afloat until business picked up again. Having this as an option is SUCH an important and invaluable tool.