The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
I am writing to share my comments about the sharing economy - as an AirBnB host. I am a first time homeowner and a single woman. Owning a home comes with so many more expenses than I ever expected. I thought about renting out one of the extra rooms for extra money; but that comes with a long term commitment with someone who could flake on rent or be a complete lunatic I'm stuck with until the lease is over. When I learned about AirBnB, I knew this would be the perfect fit for me. I provide all my information to AirBnB including a picture of my driver's license and require my guests to do so as well. Guests who want to stay with me must send me an email ahead of time so I can find out if they are a good fit to stay with me. If I ever feel like the person may be a troublemaker in some capacity, I can decline them. If a guest stays with me and causes trouble, I can make them leave and report them to AirBnB. Reviews are left for guests by hosts and vice versa; so everyone has a little idea of who they will be with. I never feel like my house or myself is ever in jeopardy. I am able to host as little or as much as I'd like. There are settings that prevent any reservations that are over 3 months ahead or same day. I can block any days where I want my own time, am hosting friends and family, or will not be around to maintain my home. With the extra income I've earned hosting less than 20 guests, I've been able to put back into my house - mainly the pool (which is a money pit and I don't recommend anyone purchasing a house with a pool). When I purchased my house, the home inspector missed that my roof was covered in holes and I ended up with a huge expense 2 weeks after closing. My savings were depleted and I had anxiety about anything else expensive falling apart. Hosting with AirBnB gives me the peace of mind that I wouldn't have to max out my credit card or try to find a second job to pay for the plumbing or air conditioning if those went out. I have an option that works with my current schedule. As a host, I've been able to help my guests save money. Majority of my guests have been young adults - medical school students visiting for the night to interview at nearby hospitals for residency, college students driving to LA where they are moving for Grad school, 20 somethings from Europe wanting to see the desert in Phoenix, an NFL intern working for very little during the SuperBowl, to name a few. If they only had the traditional lodging choices to pick from, they could have had to spend up to $400 for a motel in some circumstances. Providing them a safe, clean place to stay at a reasonable price allowed them to experience things without depleting their small budgets. I've helped three of my neighbors become hosts. One had her hours at work cut and the other one was laid off from her job of 23 years. If they didn't have this option for extra income, they could be strapped for the cash to pay their bills and becoming a burden upon society. I've looked up the tax laws regarding renting my home out as have all other hosts I know. All of us are trying to make an honest extra dollar. There are so many non-traditional families and non-traditional working hours and the sharing community gives our changing society a way to succeed and still balance life.