The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop #01672

Submission Number:
01672
Commenter:
Byron Stuart
State:
Louisiana
Initiative Name:
The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
I purchased a house in a less desirable neighborhood of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. I did this because it was relatively inexpensive as compared to adjacent neighborhoods and because it's still in a pretty central location, close to downtown shops, restaurants and entertainment. I also believe that the neighborhood is "up and coming," so to speak, and expect over the next few years for people like me to be purchasing in the neighborhood, restoring houses and property values to increase. That said, the house was not only less expensive because it was in a neighborhood with higher crime and more blighted houses than adjacent neighborhoods, but the house itself needed significant repairs and upgrades. After purchasing the house for $117k, I spent roughly another $50k on renovating the house. I live in the house and I love it now that it's renovated, but the cost of the renovations was so high and I borrowed about half of the cost of renovations (on top of my mortgage), that I felt renting through airbnb would be a great way for me to make the money back. This house, that I own and live in, is a duplex, so I have my apartment and a separate private apartment, but I actually rent both the private apartment and the front room of my apartment on airbnb. This is not only helping me recover the money I spent on the renovations, but allowing me to meet new people, share my love and passion for New Orleans by telling my guests about all the great places to go, my favorite things to do and provide them with information about where not to go (for safety reasons). I've found that renting these rooms in my house to strangers has been an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling experience, I've always felt safe and comfortable, partly due to the ID validation process that airbnb requires people to do, and at the peak of the tourism season, I've been told by some of my guests that they couldn't even find a hotel with any availability, so by allowing them to stay with me, they were still able to spend their vacation here. So, this is not only helping me recoup the cost of renovations to my house, but also helping to bring more revenue to the city. If all of the people who couldn't book a hotel room at peack times didn't have websites like airbnb.com and vrbo.com, they'd have a very difficult time finding accomodations and would likely go somewhere else. I think that owners who occupy their dwellings should be allowed to rent rooms or private apartments (within their building) to anyone they want to. They own the building. They live in the building. They should have the freedom to earn extra money by allowing guests to rent from them. I do, however, think there should be some limits imposed. For example, an owner of a large apartment building probably shouldn't be allowed to short term rent all of the apartments. That would make the building a hotel and it should be compliant with the building codes specified for high volume transient occupancy structures. Also, absentee landlords, generally in the form of property investors or investment companies, shouldn't be allowed to reduce long-term rental inventory by removing their properties from the long-term rental market in favor of short term rentals through websites like airbnb.com or vrbo.com. This results in driving up the cost of rent for people who live and work in the city, drives out local residents, destroys the personality and feel of the neighborhood and is not at all in the spirit of sharing your space, which is what airbnb is all about. It seems to me that allowing short term rentals of both private units and private or shared rooms inside owner occupied residential buildings up to four units (and/or eight bedrooms) ought to be allowed, but no more than that. And it doesn't seem to me like allowing any short-term rentals of non-owner-occupied residential buildings is a good thing for the neighborhood, the economy or the local residents.