The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
I am a registered short-term rental host in San Francisco, hosting guests in a spare room in my own home. Being able to do so has truly been a god-send, helping me to make ends meet and cover my mortgage, property taxes and the upkeep of my place. It benefits the neighborhood where I live, as well, which has no traditional hotels. Neighbors who want their family or friends to visit and stay nearby for the arrival of a new grand-baby, graduations or weddings, really appreciate the convenience of what I have been able to provide in the way of lodging. Additionally, the small businesses in my neighborhood appreciate the extra business, which in turn, adds to the overall economy of the City. As someone nearing retirement age (60+), and working as an independent contractor, having this extra stream of income (which is reported to the IRS as 1099 income), is essential! Without it, I'd likely lose my home. I also prefer to have the flexibility of temporary guests, so that my family and friends who come to visit me, have a place to stay. This is my primary (and only) residence, and I consider myself an ambassador to my San Francisco visitors. I am also on premises, so am able to make sure that nothing happens to disturb the quality of life for my immediate neighbors. My guests pay, and the platform that I exclusively use to list my property, remits the necessary Temporary Occupancy Tax (TOT) to the City treasurer's office. I carry the necessary insurance (as required by my City's Short-Term Rental Registration process), and feel that the hosting I do is a win-win situation for all. I am concerned that people like myself will be lumped in with others who may operate in a different manner (taking full units off the rental market, or situations where unsupervised hosting issues arise). This is a complicated new industry, and there needs to be appropriate regulations that are fair for all. Specifically, I do not want to be limited in the number of days per year that I am able to be a short-term rental host. There needs to be flexibility, and perhaps different categories established to allow people like myself ~ a middle-class, single woman ~ to continue to participate in this "new" economy (which in reality, has existed for centuries as folks have taken in boarders throughout history). I appreciate your consideration of all angles of this topic, and am hopeful that some kind of sensible equality can be established which would allow for the success of this business economy's 'new paradigm' to continue to benefit many households. Thank you!