The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
My first experience with Airbnb was as a guest. I've been a guest twice now and expect to again in the future. I was able to find comfortable accommodations that were more affordable and more convenient than the alternatives to Airbnb. And, I got to meet new folks and experience 'real life' in the locations I stayed. Later, when my daughter left for college this past September, my wife & I realized we could use the extra space in our home to earn additional income. The added income is much needed - tuition is a burden especially when I'm in the situation of paying 100% support for my 80 year old father and occasionally having to pay my adult brother's mortgage after he lost his job. The economic imperative is clear - we don't want to be forced to sell our home of 15 years in order to make ends meet. Better yet, we found we enjoy being hosts. We meet folks from around the world, but more often than not young couples and older family members visiting their children and grandkids in our neighborhood. We live in a modest neighborhood with no hotels to serve these people. We have one grandmother coming for her 3rd visit with her grandson in less than six months. Without an option like ours, she couldn't afford it. We believe that Airbnb has expanded the opportunity for other folks to afford-ably travel. Our local merchants also benefit - even though we offer the opportunity to cook in our place, most folks take advantage of the neighborhood restaurants and stores - bringing tourist dollars to an area that normally wouldn't see them. Finally, we are eager to 'play by the rules'. We've already registered with the city's agencies that govern short-term rentals and we work with Airbnb to see that local transient occupancy taxes are remitted to the City. We have also paid federal income tax on this rental income. Please be reasonable in your efforts to establish rules of the game that do not limit our ability to maximize the utility of our private property for our benefit, the benefit of our guests and those that benefit from the the tax income we generate. Please help keep us in our home with our daughter in college and my father off the street.