The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
I have lived in New Orleans since 1960. From 1974 to present I have lived Downtown New Orleans. Twenty years ago I bought a property that you would not have put your big toe in. It is an 1832 Georgian Townhouse. Being a preservationist I brought the property back to life. In October of 1993 when I purchased this 7,000 s.f. Georgian Townhouse it had not been lived in for fifty years. In the middle of Downtown New Orleans an area that was on the move. At that point I paid $1,500 annually in property taxes until 2005. Now I pay almost $10,000 a year. Since Katrina the burden of keeping the City going has fallen on a few citizens. Actually, less than forty percent of property owners pay property taxes because of a Homestead Exemption of $75,000. In October of 2014 I realized that I needed to do something else other than selling real estate which I have done for over thirty years and my husband although still working at Japanese translation and music was basically retired. Because of a friend I looked into Airbnb. After initial research I decided to give it a try even in the face of New Orleans taking a dim view of short term rentals. Granted there is an abuse to everything. If you are a renter and you decide to sublease your apartment and you are not on site when guests arrive then that is when things can go wrong; when guests are not supervised or given rules to follow. I think therein lies the problem when someone that doesn't own property tries to operate without permission from owner, nor regard of consequences when supervision is not part of the program. My husband and I have now 13 stays and 13 reviews with Airbnb. WE own our property and we have rules and everyone has enjoyed their stay with us. Our house is a marvel and one that often is on tour. So our guests get to see a stunning house and they get to stay Downtown New Orleans. We are now in the process of our 14th stay and after getting through the butterflies of our first stay we are now quite good at receiving guests and being an Airbnb Host. This has helped us supplement our income and because Airbnb provides us with a 1099K of income received we are paying taxes. Our building is considered commercial. We have an art gallery tenant downstairs and we have a separate room and bath in our home that is separated from our living area which allows privacy for everyone. Private room and bath, no kitchen and no eating in room. Airbnb has been the only company that we have worked with and they are so organized and so attuned to needs of host and guests that I am sure I would not work with anyone else. Because we own our property and we are inviting guests in only when we are on the premises, it makes a big difference. Our neighbors are not bothered nor do they even know we are doing this because we are in control of what happens on our property. We have two guests at a time. No more and we ask that they do not bring other people into our home while they are staying with us. So far everyone has been courteous and cooperative with rules of the house which has made a pleasant experience for all. Actually, this is a private situation that is a contract between Airbnb and guest and host and as long as it is done properly, which is true with any business, there should not be interference from anyone.