It’s interesting how a narrative is forming around Airbnb as it goes head to head with cities and communities over regulations that bar people from profiting from short term rentals. These regulations are difficult to enforce but that’s not stopping local city councils from considering new laws or better enforcement.
Andrea Hutchman turned to Airbnb last year after she and her husband, both actors, had trouble paying their mortgage. Acting work was sporadic, and part-time jobs were low-paying and tough to get, she said.
Rental demand has been strong for the one-bedroom guesthouse in their backyard.
“We’re absolutely doing it to pay the bills,” she said.
The fact that I’ve now heard this, “we did it because of the financial crisis and to pay the bills” narrative many times doesn’t change the fact that it’s probably true for a minority of folks. And not true for the many landlords who have decided they can make more money renting units short term than monthly, which drives up rents by taking supply out of the market.
The core question is do homeowners (and maybe even renters) have the right to turn around and rent their places in a short term capacity? There are a number of legal liability issues involved, namely that I think we’re headed to a world where homeowner’s policy underwriters are going to be very careful about excluding coverage for people who participate in networks like Airbnb. But that issue aside, it seems that in the ultimate capitalist society, the epitome of capitalism is to let people monetize their lives however they see fit. Sounds good on paper at least. Until your neighbor’s Airbnb guest takes your parking spot and parties till 3am.