The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop #01863

Submission Number:
Ginger Scofield
South Carolina
Initiative Name:
The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
I am in support of the sharing economy & websites such as Airbnb, VRBO, Homeaway & the like. "The internet is changing the way we work & live, & the law needs to catch up." - Eric Pickles Why are some housing zones allowed to rent for less than 30 days, & others must be rented for 30 days or more?Shouldn't we base this on property owner interest in addition to meeting set criteria & regulations rather than how your property is zoned? HOW DO STR SITES W/ LOCAL GOVERNMENT COOPERATION BENEFIT ALL? 1)IT BENEFITS HOMEOWNERS --enables them to make more money than long term rentals (w/ MORE work), also allowing some to afford to live in & upkeep their homes.STRs are generally less wear & tear on the property than long term because w/ STRs, STR owners are able to get into the properties much more often to clean, fix anything broken, & general upkeep of the inside & outside appearance.It is more work, but more money. 2)IT BENEFITS NEIGHBORHOODS --keeps STR owners the ball about home appearance & upkeep which increases property value for neighbors (as opposed long term renters which could include partying college kids creating damage & noise disturbing neighbors -- & they don't leave in a few days, their leases are generally annual). 3)IT BENEFITS LOCAL GOVERNMENT --STR owners & city official should work together to set up criteria, regulations, & a platform to charge STR owners fees for special applications, inspections, permits/licenses, revenue will be generated.The City can also generate (A LOT OF) revenue by charging an accommodations tax on these properties based on their total revenue.Wouldn't it be great to have extra money for improved infrastructure & upkeep of common areas throughout the city? 4)IT BENEFITS LOCAL RESTAURANTS, BARS, SHOPS, & OTHER LOCAL BUSINESSES --It brings more hospitality/tourism dollars.STR owners are generally very knowledgeable about their city's restaurants/bars/sights/activities & they send their vacationers to these spots! 5)IT BENEFITS TOURISTS because they have options for accommodations! OTHER NOTABLE POINTS: *STR owners are held accountable via these short term rental sites by public review (by guests & peers).If they are not providing suitable accommodations, they will receive bad reviews, & they will no longer be able to rent their homes out short term. On the flip side, STR owners are also able to leave reviews for their guests.This keeps everyone in check.STR owners are VERY conscious & motivated to vet their guests.Many require guests to sign rental agreements & collect deposits, holding the guests accountable for their actions as well.It is a 2 way street.How often do you rent a hotel room where you have to sign a contract, submit a deposit, or where the owner vets you?Hotels will rent to anyone w/ a credit card (not downing the business, but the point is, short term rental properties are more likely to host guests that are good neighbors). *Short term rental sites are becoming much more savvy about local government regulations on zoning & most offer a platform to work w/ the city in which they will charge an additional accommodations tax via the site when the guest books.This revenue is then easily documented & paid directly to the city! *Help us help you!Most STR owners would be happy to pay the tax, but are not given a platform in which to do so from the city, so in response, they operate "under the radar" or illegally. *Some citizens & government officials worry that this will cause an affordable housing problem, but not every rental property owner will jump on the STR is MUCH more work than long term rentals! Affordable housing issues had this problem way before STR sites became popular! *Hoteliers might worry the sites bring more competition.STRs offer a much broader range of accommodations than hotels, it is a different product.That said, there is no regulation for hotel owners to post their rooms on STR sites. Competition generates affordability motivation!