The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
My experience in the sharing economy is limited to Airbnb. While I have enjoyed staying in Airbnb rentals, more importantly, I have been able to stay in my house since my husband and I divorced. I have a part time job as a teacher, I am also an artist; my income alone is not sufficient to maintain my house, pay the mortgage, and be responsible in saving and supporting my daughter. Our house is also the only home my 16-year old daughter has known and it has been a source of stability for both of us through this divorce. The income I am able to generate through renting a bedroom and bathroom in my house for vacationers has been extremely helpful. I can manage my time and my finances far better than if I were to take another part time job; my artistic career and contributions to the community would be severely jeopardized if I had to take a full time job just to pay the bills. It would also impair my ability to spend important time with my daughter. As a single woman with a child, I need to know that I am safe in renting to strangers; Airbnb has several layers of verification that protect both hosts and guests and that allow me, as a host, to be selective in whom I accept. I feel safe being able to vet my guests and also have confidence in the financial integrity of the transaction. None of this would be possible without the systems in place through Airbnb, and as I said, the income is very important to me. I also believe Airbnb is good for the community. I have rules in place to protect myself and my neighbors from unruly guests and I have not had any problems in that regard. I frequently send guests to recommended restaurants, shops, and activities (horse back riding, wine tasting, etc.) in my town, which provides direct financial benefit to our community. Our town has a few low-end motels (several of which are frequented by police for criminal activity and do not attract the type of guest who will benefit the community), and one mid-range hotel. I believe the variety of Airbnb rentals in our town opens up access to a different type of visitor who wants a more special experience that can be best served by our local business community. I do not believe Airbnb rentals are competing with the local hotel/motel industry. I do hear complaints that the local rental market is impacted by the increase in vacation rentals; however, the room I rent to vacationers is not one that would ever be available for long term rentals, so in my case at least, that point is moot.