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Why do you like Air BnB so much?

We are returning to Switzerland next summer with grandchildren and their parents, and I want to book apartments in two small villages. Mürren and Bettmeralp. One I found on TripAdvisor vacation rentals and I could reserve it with a 25% deposit. The other I could only find on Air BnB and requires full payment up front, if the owner accepts my booking request. I actually do not mind paying a full year ahead right now, as I am seeking miles on my credit card for a worthy bonus. But normally this would be annoying---book a year ahead with full payment up front? With interest rates so low there is no real downside, but still.. . .

I am curious how others feel about this. I have never used Air BnB to book an apartment before, as I have found just what I wanted through other sites. I know the website is very popular, but I cannot help but wonder why, given this policy. Also---is it true that even if confirmed and paid in full, the owner can cancel and refund my booking later? Not that I think this could happen here, as I trust the Swiss to be reliable. But I have read reports of this on other websites, as well as here.

Posted by
7145 posts

I don't use them, and most likely will always avoid them.
My reasons ...
1. They reduce housing available locally on the rental market, and contribute to rising rents.
2. They create disturbance with parties and increased foot traffic in buildings primarily occupied by long term residents.
3. They don't employ young people or create career paths in the hospitality industry.
4. There can also be doubts over your booking being honoured as expected, as well as security of payment and insurance cover.

Note these are personal reasons, founded or not.

Posted by
31524 posts

I also don't use any kind of apartment rentals, for a number of reasons.....

  • many of the reasons that David articulated.
  • as a solo traveller, I'd rather use hotels. Much easier and less complicated.
  • a good breakfast is very important when I'm travelling. Staying in an apartment means cooking and dishes and that's NOT going to happen when I'm on holiday. I get enough of that sort of thing at home.

I can appreciate that apartments make good sense for families and groups, but they're not the right solution for me. Various levels of government in this area are working on enacting regulations to limit short term rentals, as they're seriously impacting the pool of rental accommodations in some areas.

Posted by
7145 posts

Love your breakfast reasoning Ken. You must be part of that army that marches (travels) on its stomach. I certainly am too.

Posted by
11613 posts

I agree with the above, plus the fact that interest rates are low doesn't matter to me; I want the use of my money, not give it to someone else many months in advance. I book with a "free cancellation" or "no prepayment required" policy whenever possible.

I use B&Bs about half the time, and the owners need to jump through a number of legal hoops in order to deal with the public. I don't like seeing them penalized because they are doing the right thing.

Having lived in a European city for a long time, I can appreciate what a nuisance it is to have strangers partying and traipsing through my building at all hours.

And it's not a vacation if I have to make my own bed.

I won't use Uber, either, because it undercuts legal taxi drivers.

I am in favor of traveling on a budget, but if I can't afford to pay for legal lodging, perhaps I should revise my itinerary.

Posted by
6513 posts

I have a novel idea. Those that are against airbnb should not use them. Those that want to use them should feel free to do so to their heart's content, unless and until they are made illegal. Why people feel the need to blather on and on about what's wrong with it on a forum like this is beyond me. It's not like complaining about it here is going to change the practice. That's more likely to happen if you complain about it to someone who's able to do something about it. The question asked was "why do you like airbnb so much? It was not why do you hate airbnb.

Personally I have nothing against airbnb as long as it's legal where the rental is located and all rules and regulations are followed. I don't use airbnb myself, my reasons are not relevant here.

I travel solo but my preference is to rent apartments rather than hotels wherever I feel it is appropriate for my needs, usually because I like to stay in one place a while and apartments are usually cheaper for longer periods of time. I like a larger space and I am one that likes to make a meal or two during my stay. I do not do a lot of cooking and washing a couple of dishes is not anathema to me. I also don't need someone coming in and making my bed and moving my things around while I'm gone. To each his/her own. I don't try to impose my opinions about this on anyone else. When I do rent apartments it is usually in an apartment hotel or where the whole building is short term rental apartments.

Posted by
13225 posts

Let me clarify that these are whole apartments ( not a room or bed shared with the owners) in well-established resort areas consisting mainly of second homes and vacation rentals. It is not an issue of depriving residents of affordable housing as it would be in cities like New York, Paris, or elsewhere. The village where I found this apartment is basically a ski resort consisting mainly of rental properties.

Traveling as a family of 6 with small children, it makes sense to have an apartment where we can have space and cooking facilities, all for little more than the cost of a double room in a Swiss hotel. While we enjoy exploring local cuisine, we tire of resturant meals night after night, and my family enjoys the camaraderie of cooking together. We are all excellent cooks, and have fun doing it ogether.

My question is really about the "full payment up front" aspect. How can they be considered a viable budget traveler option with a policy like that?

Posted by
6951 posts

I've got no problem with using a credit card as an assurance that I'm going to show up. But I don't care for a middleman that charges my credit card when the reservation is made--especially if it's 9 months or 12 months prior to my arrival.
Note that AirBnB sits on any prepaid room charges. They finally forward it to the room/apartment owner upon the arrival of the renter.
I find it somewhat amusing that AirBnb will be after you to rate the property immediately upon your departure. And at the same time, they're after the property owner to rate you as a renter--for other AirBnb property owners.

Like it or now, but AirBnb is with us in the future. They're getting bigger and bigger worldwide and are a serious force in the accommodations business. They're virtually everywhere (if legal.) With the recent price increases in hotel rooms, especially in large cities or very popular business cities, there's no stopping AirBnb. If I was using AirBnb, I'd be after a whole apartment or house and not just a room in someone's home.
I most often use Booking.com, another huge reservation company and find myself seldom paying for the room on front end--when making the reservation.

Posted by
13026 posts

As of the summer 2016 AirBnB was outlawed in Berlin...good. As pointed out AirBnB is most likely here to stay, but it will not get my business. Staying with them is not an option for me. In Germany and Austria I am mainly a solo traveler and prefer staying with local Pensionen, hostels, and small hotels, 3 stars at the most.

One has to choose given one's own traveling circumstances, solo, with a group (famliy members, etc), or in pairs/couples, whether the AirBnb option is suitable and preferred.

Posted by
5727 posts

I have used Airbnb in the past, but have stopped doing so, because

(a). If I am booking a year ahead, I prefer not to pay in full the day I book. (Trip Advisor rentals take a deposit and the balance just before travel unless YOU choose to pay it in full at anytime.)

(b). Often the same apartment is on several websites and without exception, I have found that the rates offered by Airbnb are on average 25% higher than on the other sites for the same currency. If you change the currency on the Airbnb website, you find that they offer a poor rate of exchange.

(c). Far too many of the Airbnb properties have the comment "booking cancelled by the owner" 10 or so days before travel. Not helpful when flights etc have been booked.

(d). Airbnb vet the email exchanges between property owner and renter too much prior to booking. I have previously tried to ascertain where exactly a property was located by asking was it close to an intersection of 2 named streets and Airbnb blocked out the street names, so the owner couldn't reply. I want to know where I am staying and look at Streetview before booking.

(e). The last time I tried to make a booking for given dates on Airbnb, it gave me a price and when I clicked to book, the price shot up by 20%, so I rented a great flat through Trip Advisor instead.

(f). I don't like the fact that other people, be they property owners or anybody else can look at my wish lists of properties to see what their competition is or where I am considering visiting.

Posted by
10 posts

I'm surprised to hear so many overwhelmingly negative responses in regards to AirBNB.

I have not used them before, but for my upcoming trip to Europe ended up booking 5 hotels and 2 AirBNB properties. I'd heard from quite a lot of people who've had some really great experiences with their host, who made the stay much more enjoyable than what could be offered from a hotel. It'll be interesting to see if my actual experience lives up to this.

Posted by
337 posts

I used airBnB twice on a my last trip to Europe (nearly five years ago).

In Vienna, we had a great apartment, run by a pleasant fellow. If that was my only experience, I would be okay with it, even though much has changed in the intervening years.

In Prague, the AirBnB was owned by a hotelier, so key pickup involved going to the hotel, which wasn't that close to the apartment, which led to a bunch of trudging around a fairly foreign city in the dark. The possibility of repeating that nonsense would make me more cautious in booking.

Since then, I haven't traveled really, but won't be using AirBnB on upcoming trips. The larger societal disruption of AirBnB that others have cited weigh on me. My mixed bag of experiences suggest it's workable, but with care.

Posted by
3936 posts

I almost exclusively use airbnb now. Our trip in April had 5 diff stays...all with airbnb.

Why?

  1. I actually don't mind paying ahead. We usually book about 3-4 mos before going. And that all gets paid off before we go, so one less thing to worry about having to pay for when we get home, especially with train tickets, restaurants and museum admissions choking up our cc bill. I make sure to check the cancellation policies and look for most generous if I can in case something were to happen.

  2. We generally stay in a home with people present, more often than not. Prices are lower than hotels. And we actually like interacting with our hosts. We host (and have been hosted by) couchsurfers in our home, so we have no issues at all staying with total strangers. We did do apartments when my mom came with us, and had an amazing one in Rome steps from the Colosseum for about $150 Canadian a night, and it was lovely. We'd never have found a 3 person hotel in that price range in that area. We stayed at a lovely apartment (in a room) on the New Jersey side when we went to NYC. Free on the street parking with no need to move the car. Two minute walk to the bus that had Port Authority as it's next stop. Use of the kitchen and backyard BBQ had we wanted to. And all for under $100 Can a night. the closest hotel was pushing $200 a night, and no free parking.

Those are the two biggies for us. Some other things is if you are driving, you can look for one with parking and not have to perhaps pay for parking at a hotel. You can get some good local tips from your host (many will have a binder or some similar thing to let you know what to see, where to eat...). Kitchens are nice and sometimes laundry facilities. Our stays in Dordrecht and Ghent both included use of the kitchens...in Ghent we were able to wash our clothes and he even told us to have a beer if we wanted one! (Which we didn't, but the gesture was nice).

As for breakfasts, meh - no issues to wash a spoon, plate, glass and bowl. Takes all of 30 seconds. Same with some who say they don't like making the bed. Here's a new one - you don't have to make the bed when you leave!

Yes, airbnb hosts can cancel on you. I'm pretty sure you are reimbursed right away. I always check thru the listings and if a host cancels, there will be an automatic review saying 'stay cancelled 'x' days before'. If I see more than one of those in someone's listing, I keep searching. I had a host have to cancel one of 3 nights because she double booked, but she offered to refund us the whole thing or give us a discount on the other two nights. We took the discount. I try to find 'well seasoned' hosts, because it def minimizes your chance of cancellation.

Posted by
5592 posts

I also refuse to use AirBnB. Just because a market is subject to "disruption" does not mean that it ought to be disrupted. It's not entirely fair to paint AirBnB with the brush Travis Kalanik earned for Uber - actual, deceitful actions against government regulators. But the idea clever ideas by young thinkers deserve to be "right" is naive.

Although it is a large use of space, it is particularly appropriate for moral comments to be made on this website because our host has always included the quality of local life, and even charitable works, on his business agenda. I can remember when some sales promotions were to go to a developing-world national debt-forgiveness project of his church. (FYI, debt to France is a main reason for Haiti's intractable problems.)

I'd be interested in how many advocates for AirBnB grew up in a detatched, single-family home. I grew up in a 17-story apartment building in Manhattan. In my summer 3-month sublets, I learned how difficult it can be to have people who don't know where the garbage cans go, or who bump their suitcases in with every occupancy changeover. Many of the chain hotels I now use in the U.S. have posted "no party" signs on the check-in desk. Unsophisticated and thoughtless people can behave very badly when they are not at home. There's not a big step between using a cell phone in a public theater and yelling down the hotel hall after midnight.

Posted by
8293 posts

Kudos to ronfer46 and Tim for their posts. Couldn't agree more. Have never used Uber and never will. Have never used Air B&B and never will. We sometimes rent a legal studio apartment, sort of a granny flat, in a large house in Paris, but a hotel is what I prefer. If I were to notice strangers with luggage in and out of the building where I live, the company owning the building would soon have a flea in its ear and not only from me, but from many others, including the families with young children whose safety can not be assured when strangers are passing through every few days.

Posted by
1002 posts

Lola -
I have used VRBO many times over the years, and HomeAway a few times (yes, I know they are connected but do have two different platforms). I have always had very good experiences with the places I've rented on both of these. I only select properties with a history of great performance, with overwhelmingly four and five star reviews. I did look into AirBnB a while back but it seemed like I had to give a lot to register to use the site. I don't remember the particulars but I quickly gave up on it. With VRBO, you can communicate directly with the owner in advance of any rental, and typically I have entered into a documented rental contract directly with the owner. I much prefer that to what I saw on the AirBnB site. Have you looked into availability of the places you found via AirBnB through VRBO or HomeAway?

Posted by
11978 posts

I'm using Airbnb for almost all of my upcoming trip. My first experience was last year and it was pleasant. I don't really mind paying up front, but I don't book a year ahead. In this case I'm going in September and I booked in June. If the Euro keeps going the way it's going, I'll have saved quite a bit of money (better lucky than good).

I've only used them on my last two trips to France. I've yet to have a bad experience with Airbnb in at least a half dozen stays. I'm not picky; if it's clean and quiet, I'm happy. I will say some of the steep stairs, low ceiling heights, location of bathrooms (down the hall), etc. wouldn't be for every American traveler. Each property has been described and reviewed fairly so there haven't been any negative surprises.

The hosts have been great too. They go out of their way to be helpful much more than expected.

I looked at some properties for an upcoming trip to San Diego and wasn't nearly as impressed with either the quality of properties on offer or the price.

A lot of hosts are glad to have the additional income Airbnb provides. Some are investors who run many properties; the vast majority, however, are homeowners who help make ends meet by renting a room or small apartment when they can. I feel like I'm helping out the little guy much more than by staying in hotel chains.

The worst thing about Airbnb, and why I'll probably never list a room or apartment there, is they treat the owners a lot like Uber treats their drivers. They push them to list more often than they want solely to generate more revenue for the company and threaten to delist them if they don't comply.

Posted by
8430 posts

Nancy, I agree with you completely. Very well said.

Posted by
9363 posts

I trust the Swiss to be reliable

There can be scammers everywhere. Are you saying you would not trust Austrians or Germans or Spaniards simply because of their nationality? I don't like AirBnB and won't consider using them again for a couple of reasons. First, they are technically illegal in many places. One of our potential AirBnB hosts warned guests not to talk to the neighbors in the building, and if they spoke to them, to tell them they were relatives visiting from out of town. If you want to circumvent the laws where you live, fine, but don't expect me to take part in your lies. Second, we had more than one place fail to respond to our attempt to book, and two of them booked us but canceled at the relative last minute, and we ended up in a hotel.

Posted by
11978 posts

I should add, one of the things I look for (in the reviews) is hosts canceling reservations at the last minute. If the host cancels, it generates an automatic review and says how far in advance the host canceled. So far I've eliminated any from consideration that show cancellations by the host. I'd guess, only a guess, you are most likely to be canceled if you are staying one night and they believe they can get a longer booking. The only time I've run into resistance to a booking request was for a one night stay - still found a suitable place and haven't had a cancellation yet.

I did suggest in a review of their site that a full refund of your payment, at the last minute, doesn't really make you whole - you're left with no place to stay and limited last-minute options. I suggested Airbnb make an effort to find suitable replacement lodging for you. Their site seems to be able to generate suggestions automatically (maybe they already do it?).

Posted by
13225 posts

I had no idea I would cause such a firestorm.

Thank you for your positive and helpful comments, ronfer46, Nd for acknowledging that in this situation ( holiday resort full of second homes and vacation rentals) a rental like this not taking living space away from local residents. Nor is it illegal under local statutes or disfavored by custom.

I took a look at the Amina listings on your first link, and found that only one, Alpengluck, is available for a 4-night stay. The rest all say "mindestens 7 Nächte" and in my experience this generally means not only a one-week minimum but also a Saturday arrival. And even Alpengluck, while ostensibly available for four nights, would not let me proceed to the price page because it would not allow a Wednesday arrival. Plus it is a 2-bedroom apartment and we need three.

Nachtigall (Nightingale) is indeed lovely, but the daily prices listed in the last link are from 2014. The Amina website has this apartment on a weekly basis only.

I have looked for the apartment I found on Air BnB by name on other sites. It is not on Amina nor on My Switzerland ( or Homeaway or VRBO). It is on the Gemeinde (community) listings for Bettmeralp vacation rentals, and also has its own website. If I rented through either of these I would have to pay by wire transfer, which I cannot do---our credit union does not do them. I do not want to open a separate bank account just to be able to do this rental.

I actually have spent a lot of time looking around for an apartment in this village that we could take for 4 nights and also met our requirements for space and amenities. This one "ticks all the boxes", has good reviews, and can be booked now for next summer. It is already significantly booked through the winter ski season, and it looks like the owners are using it themselves this August (and maybe next August as well).

So I was happy to find this apartment and I am sorry if dealing with Air BnB offends some of you, but I don't have many good options here.

Nancy---my comment about the Swiss being reliable was specifically in reference to the oft-reported issue of last-minute cancellations by the owner, not fraudulent rentals. I in no way meant any disrespect to Austrians, Germans, Spaniards, or any other group; nor was I making a comparison. Simply saying that in my considerable experience with the Swiss, I have found that they place a high value on predictability and reliability----meaning one will get exactly what was promised, no more and no less.

FWIW, the apartment we are looking at in Mürren is on Tripadvisor via Holiday Lettings, and can be booked with a 25% deposit.

Posted by
3936 posts

Lola - people have strong feelings about this...it's like the money belt vs no money belt, wheelies vs backpacks and rental car vs public transport, UBER vs taxi...people think the way they do things is best (of course!).

I feel a bit that way (sorry, forget the other posters name) another mentioned - when people are renting out a spare bedroom in their home or apartment, I feel like I am helping them stay in their abode, or perhaps save money towards their own holiday. I've contemplated airbnb'ing our spare bedroom and using that money towards our travels...haven't taken that plunge yet.

You do whatever works best for you. Hope it works out well. I would be a bit nervous booking a year in advance as many things could happen between now and then with their booking...I generally book 3-5 mos out, but you are looking at small villages with limited avail...hard decision...

Posted by
5592 posts

Nicole, in some developing countries (like Cuba, for example) people who need extra money operate restaurants in their homes and apartments. Are you comfortable with someone setting up a flea market on their front steps so they can afford this year's property taxes? (And note that such a person is not paying sales/VAT taxes on their ... cash ... income, most likely.) There is, in fact, no inherent right to operate a hotel in your home, unless a local law says so.

Operation of businesses is forbidden in the residential zone where I live. My wealthy suburban town, Wyckoff NJ just passed a law outlawing renting or advertising rentals of less than 30 days. Now, one factor has been the overhang of the U.S. "mortgage crisis." There are still unkempt foreclosed, single-family homes harming the appearance of neighborhoods. That law was passed despite the number of people who (justifiably) complain about property tax costs in New Jersey, especially the elderly. But AirBnb has a reputation of attracting group rentals and parties that are quite harmful to law-abiding residents-aside from my original complaint.

Posted by
4745 posts

Lola,
I've booked apartments through AirBNB and also through other agencies. My main criteria for choosing an apartment is the number of positive reviews and the rental terms. My two experiences with AirBNB (Stockholm and Vienna) were both positive. In Stockholm, I was greeted by the owner on arrival. It was a house in Gamla Stan with 3 flats and they all belonged to the owner. In Vienna, I was greeted by the owner's housekeeper, but a couple days later I met the owner who lived on the same floor. Both of these flats probably had 20+ positive reviews and no real negatives. In the reviews, I pay close attention to the cleanliness rating and nix any flats where people complain about cleanliness.

I've never booked more than 3 or 4 months in advance, so the full payment doesn't bother me. AirBNB has various cancellation policies. I would not choose a flat with a "strict" policy if I had to pay a year in advance.

Posted by
21867 posts

If the Air BnB has the same business model as Uber I would be tempted to us them. Use Uber all the time but am very cautious of Air BnB.

Posted by
3333 posts

I've skimmed the other replies and have not noticed a mention of another reprehensible practice of Air B&B. Evidently they require users to post pictures of themselves, which facilitates racial discrimination. According to the news story I read, it was pretty easy to substantiate. An African-American would try for a reservation for certain dates and be told no availability. A Caucasian would then ask for the same dates and be told they could have a reservation. Air B&B's response was to cite their official non=discrimination statement. Sure, winky winky. I, for one, can't see the purpose of a photo of a would-be renter other than to disclose race. My bottom line is that I won't knowingly patronize any business that helps to perpetuate racism.

Posted by
3936 posts

Tim...as I said above...everyone thinks the way they do things are right.

I respect that many people don't want to use Airbnb. I love to use it. It saves me money and I've met some great hosts. I gave my reasons for why I like them. They have millions of users. I am aware of some of the issues and try to not tread on toes. I know of the issues in NYC, which is why we stayed in Weehawken. I know the issues with apartments in Paris which is why I chose to stay in a private room, and why 90% of our Airbnb uses are in a private room. If this person has the extra room, then why should they not utilize it? If their neighbourhoods or landlords forbid it, then they should get on shutting it down. But if I were to decide to Airbnb the spare room in the house that we own, and we follow the rules and claim the money as income and pay taxes, it's no ones business.

As long as the platform is there to use, I'll use it. And I won't feel bad or shamed for doing it.

Posted by
2466 posts

I have been very vocal on the subject of short term vacation rentals in New Orleans, where I ran a legal B&B for 7 years, and Paris, where I have lived for 10 years.

1) I would not rent a year in advance, because the exchange rate may change drastically.
2) This property is probably managed by too many agencies on too many websites, and will likely be unprofessionally managed.
As such, double-booking or last-minute cancellations can occur.
3) I would never rent an apartment if the owner/management company did not give me the exact address of the building and where the specific apartment is located.
Too many people take liberties with neighborhoods, and mislead clients with photos that have nothing whatsoever to do with the area.
4) Modern apartments may meet fire and sanitary codes, but older apartments which have had a quick renovation job will not be able to interface with plumbing or electricity, so will be unsafe.
I would check to see if there are up-to-date fire extinguishers as well as a schematic telling you what to do and where to exit in case of fire.
5) In an apartment rented by AirBnB in the 2ème arrondissement, a 4-year old boy fell out of the window and was seriously injured, due to the balcony railing being too low.
6) The owner / management company must be insured. Ask for a copy of the insurance contract, as well as a lease ( in your native tongue), before you sign anything - this is your family's safety we're talking about, but nobody ever thinks about having to climb down a fire ladder in your underwear.
7) An owner / management company should give you reasonable options for a percentage of the deposit, damage and cleaning fees. Normally, the rate is 30% to 50% down, with options to send funds within a period of 60 to 30 days before you arrive.

Posted by
1341 posts

I have found more listing on AirBnb than VRBO or Booking.com. I like that real people are giving real reviews of the property, the good, the bad and the ugly and the AirBnb host can only explain and not delete the post. I was surprised on my last 2 rentals through AirBnB (Florence and Rome) that I WAS actually dealing with a large agency that had multiple properties, very organized, clear instructions, contact information and great restaurant suggestions. In Florence we stayed in an Apartment were our entry door was right on the street and across the way was an apartment building that seemed to host many, many travelers. I have actually never experienced any partying or people coming in at all hours of the night in any of the apartments I have stayed in. I have seen the normal tenants and we always get a greeting and a smile. You really need to read the behavior that is expected of you on the rules of the apartment and decide if this is you (most will explicitly state "no parties" or extra guests) . On one contract it was clearly spelled out, "break any rules and you will be immediately evicted from the property with no refund" which was signed on arrival.

I also like paying in full ahead of time, one more expense out of the way and I just consider it part of my cost to travel. From the looks of some of the calendars, some appear to be lived in during some period of the year.

I am sure there are those people who may discriminate based on the photo, but when you read the reviews you can also see pictures of all the people that have rented and decide if this is a person you want to rent from (it's a two way street...they accept you and you accept them). Most have a very broad international client base with people of all races and nationalities. You can also click on the other renters profiles to see other properties they have rented for ideas on different places you might consider staying.

I like to do a combo of Hotels and Apartments, based on the amount of time I am in each place.

Posted by
2466 posts

Be aware that some AirBnB hosts replace their photo with someone else's whom they think will look "more Parisien".

It is illegal in almost any country to discriminate against someone's last name, race, religion, or gender.

But an owner / manager may ask what the person does for a living, how old they are, the ages and number of their children, phone numbers, email address, and home and business address.

An owner / manager would be wise to check out social media, LinkedIn, reverse phone numbers, etc.

A smart client would do the same.

Posted by
337 posts

I think the "loud parties, drunk idiots, all hours" thing is overstated. It's a thing in NYC where gentrified bar heavy neighborhoods grow up and have a ton of AirBnBs (likely half of which are against NYC regulations), and so people bar hop, get drunk, are idiots, come in late, make noise and have loud whatever. I don't think it is that frequent an occurrence in quieter neighborhoods in various cities and towns. The cultural pull of New York on the Interwebs colors the experience of people everywhere, even when it's a localized issue. (I note this as someone who grew up in NY and was hating on Brooklyn before it was a thing).

Posted by
3936 posts

Yes, I do save money, but as I said, I've also met some great people. Honestly, in a lot of cases, we probably could find cheaper accommodations on the outskirts of the city in some dive. Or spend twice as much to stay in a hotel, leaving us less money for a good meal or sightseeing, shortening our time in a city because it's too expensive.

And personally, I'm not all me/me/me...we let people - total strangers! - stay for free with us thru couchsurfing. We just had a lady from Bordeaux this past weekend, a young girl from Ottawa the week before and a couple from Annecy the week before that. And we have a couple from the USA coming next week.

Yeah, I save money, but for me, it's also MEETING and interacting with locals, which I'm NOT going to get in a hotel. We airbnb'ed with a lady in Coarsegold, CA and spent three hours sitting and chatting with her the morning before we left, playing with her dog and watching the busy hummingbirds. I have the email of the lady in Paris that we stayed with twice and plan to keep in touch with her. The man we stayed with in Dordrecht - hubby sat and chatted with him for 2 hrs about what it was like living in NL, while I was upstairs miserable from a bad throat infection. The lady in Villefranche who cooked us supper and took us the next morning on a walk at a park with her dog and drove us to Eze. All memorable experiences. And there have been others.

To be honest, if anything, airbnb helps us to slow down when we travel. Were we in a hotel, we'd just get up and go, or come back to the room at night and stare at the walls, but instead we can interact with our hosts. I know a lot of people don't care to meet or stay with strangers while away, or would prefer to stay in an impersonal cookie cutter hotel, but that isn't what works for my husband and me. Different strokes for different folks.

Posted by
8293 posts

Nicole, it's nice that you have warm memories of all the people you have met and chatted with while staying in Air B&Bs. You would have met just as nice people staying in other types of accommodation, such as legal apartments or B&Bs, or even hostels or a room over a pub in the U.K. The nicest and most interesting man we ever met in France sat next to us on a bench beside the Canal St Martin and struck up a conversation.

If I meet interesting people when travelling it is a plus but it is not the reason I travel, and certainly not the reason I would choose one type of accommodation over another. We have travelled economically for donkey's years and will continue to do so, but on principle Air B&B is not for us.

Posted by
2466 posts

You must be awfully shy people...
Don't you ever go out after dark in Paris and mingle with the residents - or just wander around looking for dinner and have a discussion with the Parisien next to you?
Sitting and staring at the 4 walls of my hotel room and not talking to your significant other is my personal idea of Hell on Earth...

Posted by
11613 posts

Wow, Nicole, what a bleak picture you paint of legal accommodations. My hotel/B&B experiences are nothing like you imagine. I stay at a family-run hotel in Roma (off via Cavour) for $75/night single with breakfast. My B&B hosts in most small cities meet me at the train/bus station and some have become friends over the years. I meet lots of people, every day, everywhere.
, because I am open to that.

I seldom spend more than €100 on accommodations, even in Venezia and Firenze.

If I want to return to my room for an afternoon nap or to retreat from the summer sun, I don't have to worry about bothering anyone. (That's the me-me-me part).

I support the local economy. If my budget is tight (which it usually is), I stay longer in cities that are less expensive.

Posted by
18388 posts

In response to Ken's comments on Ferienwohnungen (apartments) in Germany, for the most part I have avoided them in the past because I felt they were not cost effective for a single traveler. However, my last trip to Germany, with a partner, changed my thinking. We spent 7 nights in the Oberallgäu for about 300€, 43€/night (for two). A traditional German breakfast (coffee, rolls, butter, cold cuts, cheese, and jam) was no problem (no cooking, few dishes); that's the great thing about a German breakfast. Rolls were delivered fresh every morning on our doorstep, we bought the other things from the local store. The only problem was the leftovers (coffee, butter, cold cuts, and cheese) that we didn't use, wouldn't need going forward, and had to leave behind.

Unlike others here, I have no problem with the moral issues involved with apartment rentals. So far, they haven't affected me; I'll rely on local laws to solve that.

The primary reason I would not use AirBnB is that I don't think it is the most cost effective system. Case in point, a trip I recently planned but had to cancel because of my partner's health reasons. The town website shows 20 apartments in town. One other apartment is shown on Google maps. Sixteen of the apartments were in suburbs outside of the main town, so I dismissed them, concentrating on the four in town. The one I chose was for 35€ per night.

The AirBnb website shows five properties in the general area (vs 20 on the town website), of which three I would reject for the same reason I rejected the 12 from the town website. That leaves two apartments on AirBnB. One, in town, is not on the town website, but charges 75€/night, more than any place on the town website. The final place charges 88€ if booked via AirBnB, 65€ if booked direct.

I'm not saying don't look at AirBnB, I'm only saying don't expect it to give you a good deal.

Posted by
3936 posts

Well, the question in the header is 'Why do you like Airbnb so much?'...not why do you hate it.

I gave the reasons why I like it.

And while we have had chats with people in restaurants (the most memorable being a 3 hr 'chat' with a New Zealander in Corniglia), just walking out on the street or stopping at a tourist sight doesn't generally lead to talking with locals - because they are in a hurry, you are in a hurry, or - well, there aren't that many locals at tourist sites. We had a nice chat with a couple on a train to Florence - they were from the USA. We had a funny chat with a woman by the Colosseum - she was from Ohio. Chatting with someone on the Amalfi Coast - they were from Canada. As opposed to the local you are staying with at the airbnb. As we get older, we don't generally stay out all hours, and the places we stay give you your privacy so if you go back in the afternoon to rest, you won't be disturbed (plus, most likely they are at work anyways). I like connecting with people and airbnb is a good way for me to feel like I've made that connection with someone who lives there.

Posted by
3936 posts

...and we have stayed in hotels (usually near an airport before flying home) and have never had an indepth conversation with anyone. We have stayed at 'traditional' B&B's (my fav is in Venice and we've stayed there 3 times) and have struck up conversations with other people around the breakfast table...and we will continue to use those methods as well. Last year when we went to Ontario we had a B&B (...well, more of a B since they didn't serve breakfast) in New Hampshire, 4 various airbnb's, a traditional B&B in Niagara Falls and a motel in Bangor.

Posted by
5630 posts

I have used Air BnB to search for lower priced accommodations for some our travels. II usually can find a nice B&B or small hotel near the city center with a free breakfast for the same price as an apartment on Air.

For only two persons, that is us, we don't need a larger place with more bedrooms and a kitchen. My Daughter and her family travel frequently with six persons (four kids) and they save a lot going with Air.

Posted by
8293 posts

New York Times article today.
"Airbnb sued by guest who says host sexually assaulted her."

Posted by
11450 posts

i havent used Airbnb.. and likely won't.
We have rented apartments in Paris ( 3 times with Parisbestlodge) we liked not paying ahead, and knowing exactly where it was.. and they were very professional, the owner has a business partner, together they own about a dozen apartments. They host a wine and cheese night for their apartment guests about once a month. We have attended two such evenings and had lovely times.

We also rented an entire townhouse in Dublin ( three bedrooms , we were a group of 7) from an agency that rents out heritage houses, the profits are used to renovate other heritage properties.

However, most of the time we stay in hotels, and I love them.. we usually stay in small family run hotels,, 2 starts.. maybe an occasional three star. We never stay in big chain hotels. The small hotel we stayed in last year on Naxos was amazing, the hostess made us a snack package of food to take the day they knew we had rented a car to explore the island. My hubby would sit outside with the owner and his manager in the evenings and have a drink and smoke.. they recommended awesome places to eat.. and the first time we arrived we asked for a corkscrew as we had wine.. the lady of the house brought up little homemade sandwiches because she insisted we must have a snack with our drinks( and there was 5 of us.. !)

I like both , but frankly find hotels the easiest. The house in Dublin was a pain in the butt.. couldnt check in till 4 pm.. and couldn't leave luggage even till noon..our flight arrived at 8.30 am so had to hang around with bags till we could drop them off.. with a hotel I ve never had one not take my bags in no matter what time I arrive.

Posted by
1172 posts

OP: We are a family of 4 with kids and when staying in a city more than a day or two, we looks for apartments. Although we have not used Airbnb, we have used VRBO a lot and have only had pleasant experiences.
We enjoy having more space to lounge in after long days of walking and sightseeing. It is nice to be able to have some of us go to bed later or get up earlier and not have to have everyone do the same :)
We enjoy being able to have some food and drinks on hand and in some cases, make some meals.
We also enjoy being able to do laundry which helps cut down how much we need to pack and bring with us.
Being 'entrenched' a bit more like a local has been a great experience for all of us as well

I look for places with great and recent reviews.. I have never fully paid upfront and would not feel comfortable doing that. I am ok with a deposit ( up to 25%) and then the rest due within a month of or so of travel.

Enjoy your trip... memories that your family will never forget!

Posted by
147 posts

I have never stayed at an Air BnB room but I have been one of the "locals" that a guest had the opportunity to meet. I live in an older condo building of ten units. A couple of the apartments are not owner occupied but are rental units and one of the tenants was rarely there but seemed to have lots of "friends" who visited.

I was enjoying my coffee and newspaper one Saturday morning when there was a knock at the door at 7:00. A young woman whom I had never met was standing at my door in her pajamas. Apparently she had come downstairs to use the building laundry room and locked herself out. We invited her in for coffee while we tried to figure out where we could find a key that early on a Saturday. It was pretty awkward making small talk with a stranger, both of us in our pajamas. Her Air BnB host was the actual tenant and couldn't be reached by phone or email.

We did manage to track down a key and let her in to the apartment about an hour later. The incident helped confirm a long held but never proven suspicion that the apartment was being used as Air BnB. Our condo rules don't allow for rentals shorter than 3 months. It is disruptive to the other residents in a building to have unknown people coming and going on a regular basis.

Posted by
8293 posts

I trust your condo board took the appropriate measures. That condo owner should be made to share his/her ill gotten gains with all the other condo owners.

Posted by
341 posts

AirBnB came to our rescue a few years ago when we needed to be with our son who was in college and needed surgery. We could have stayed in an expensive hotel in this neighborhood (just outside of NYC) or we could rent a two bedroom apartment that had an elevator (good because my son was going to be a wheelchair for a few weeks), a kitchen, comfortable furnishings, and more. The owner could not have been more helpful, concerned, and had a reasonable rate. The school had no parent apartments to rent, and we were so thankful that we found what we did on AirBnB.

This summer, we stayed at AirBnB for three nights in Dubrovnik. We had the most incredible view overlooking the old town, in an apartment with two bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room, etc. The owners were a lovely older couple who helped us load our bags (not that we had very many but it was a nice gesture) and were just generally very sweet people. It was nice getting to know some locals. We stayed at an AirBnB in Rovinj for two nights as well, right inside the heart of the walled city.

As for Uber, I've loved using them. And I'll gladly use taxis when they have clean cars with courteous and friendly drivers that I can order with an app on my phone, where I don't have to deal with payment because it's automatically taken care of via the app, and where the route and the receipt is sent to my email, allowing me to easily send the receipt to my work. In one of the cities we traveled to in Germany last year (I can't remember which one) there was no Uber but we discovered that locals recommended a Taxi app, and it was great! It did what I needed, so I'll use it again where it's available. But we also discovered that not all cities have such Taxi apps, but maybe that will improve.

I know my views are not popular in this group, but I just wanted to share my experiences with both services. I'm not in favor of people breaking local laws surrounding these services, but I'm also not going to say that these services should go away because they provide a needed service.

Posted by
8293 posts

It is grand that Airbnb provides a "service" to travellers (and makes a pile of money at it) but it is a DISSERVICE to the other tenants in an apartment building. How can this be denied? Do Airbnb renters not care about that? Encountering strangers with luggage every few days in the elevator or lobby, who will not meet your gaze, is invasive and discombobulating.

Posted by
13753 posts

It is grand that Airbnb provides a "service" to travellers (and makes
a pile of money at it) but it is a DISSERVICE to the other tenants in
an apartment building. How can this be denied? Do Airbnb renters not
care about that? Encountering strangers with luggage every few days in
the elevator or lobby, who will not meet your gaze, is invasive and
discombobulating.

A substantial part of the RS philosophy is about understanding the differences in the world and yet the forum has an amazing number of members who claim to be world travelers and yet they have haven’t discovered that Europe isn’t a homogeneous lump. Or if they have, then they haven’t recognized that breaking down preconceptions in culture should be a lesson applied in every aspect of life.

“How can this be denied?” This is sort of like saying, how can it be denied that all Europeans are Slavic? Airbnb? Let’s call all French speaking countries in the world France why don’t we. Its about the same as calling all short term rental marketing platforms “AirBnb” or all soft drinks “Coke” or all tissue paper “Klenex” When the discussion begins with “AirBnb” I have been trying to ignore it because when the first word of the premise shows no attempt to understand the topic I cant expect much value to follow. Or is it just AirBnb you detest and the rest or okay??? And, if yes, why?

It is grand that Airbnb provides a "service" to travellers (and makes
a pile of money at it) but it is a DISSERVICE to the other tenants in
an apartment building. How can this be denied?

If you understand that in the same way all of Europe is not a homogenous lump, not all short-term rental situations are not the same, then yes, it’s easy to deny the universal concept of DISSERVICE. I know a little about 3 situations in 3 cities that don’t comply with Norma’s universal statement.

What I have seen is that thanks to the concept of short-term rentals:

Entire neighborhoods have been reborn and dangerous buildings have been completely renovated providing all the tenants:

safe lead-free water pipes,

safe properly installed gas pipe systems,

cable for television and internet,

larger electrical systems that can handle the load of air-conditioning and modern appliances.

Renovated exteriors

New roofs

Regular maintenance at no expense to the House.
.
.
As a result:

Property values have increased significantly providing property owners the first real wealth of their lives

Pensioners have been able to use that value for more comfortable retirements

Adjacent businesses have benefited from more income in the neighborhood and as a result the quality of life for more has risen.

Are there some losers? If you think that there is any situation in life where there is not some sort of negative impact then you are naïve. It’s about finding balance in each unique and individual situation and avoiding mindless rhetoric.

In the two situations that I am most familiar, if condition inside the apartment is any indication, there aren’t any wild parties going on. If the greetings from the neighbors are any indication, the neighbors aren’t bothered by the short-term renters. I suspect that both groups have gained from each other through daily interaction the sort of knowledge that RS would be pleased by and the financial advantages to both sides would be difficult not to appreciate.

.
.
Is the situation in Amsterdam or Paris the same as what I described? Absolutely not. But that's the point. Actually the situation in Paris isn't even the same as the situation in Paris; as the situation will be different in each apartment block in each neighborhood for a thousand individual reasons.

Posted by
13753 posts

It is grand that Airbnb provides a "service" to travellers (and makes
a pile of money at it)

It shouldn't be about how much money Airbnb or any other company or individual makes. That's just some sort of inappropriate jealousy. It should be about if your rights are being infringed upon. As near as I can tell, no short-term rental company has infringed upon the rights of Condo Associations or Voters to ban or otherwise regulate short-term rentals.

Posted by
13026 posts

There is no Uber in Germany, it is banned. The Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) ruled against Uber....good!

Posted by
341 posts

It is grand that Airbnb provides a "service" to travellers

Well, I'm not sure of the purpose of the quotes, Norma? It feels like a sneer, but maybe that wasn't your intent. AirBnB provided a valuable service to us, when neither the hotels (which were at minimum $200/night) nor the university were options for the three weeks we were up there for our son's surgery. It was an immensely upsetting and stressful time, and I am forever grateful to the service and to the renter who provided a needed accommodation.

You've mentioned in a few other posts about it being okay to rent a legal apartment. I don't get it...how is that any different? AirBnB is legal. Where it's not, it's shut down or the owners are skirting the law and will likely eventually get caught.

I can absolutely understand condo associations deciding that it's not okay for their buildings, and would not stay in a place where it wasn't allowed. But this condo board where we stayed obviously decided that it was okay.

As for being disrupting to other tenants, I think it's probably conditional upon the location. How is not disrupting to a neighborhood in England or Scotland or France or wherever when a homeowner decides to turn their home into a B&B? Even if it's within the rights of the owner to do so? People coming in an out every day, many times a day, etc. I love B&B's so I'm not slamming them, but then does this mean that the rest of the homeowners on their street shouldn't have the opportunity to run an AirBnB out of their home if their community association is okay with it? As far as the condos we stayed in, in the case of my previous example, I think we saw one other person the entire three weeks we were there. In Dubrovnik, the owner lived next door. In Rovinj, we were the only condo on that floor.

Posted by
13753 posts

There is no Uber in Germany, it is banned. The Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) ruled against Uber....good!

Fred, exactly as it should be.... It's called a democracy.

Posted by
6882 posts

The City of Charleston, SC has come up with the following tenets of short-term rentals (STRs) in an effort to preserve their neighborhoods:
* the STR be owner-occupied
* the STR be the primary owner residence
* the owner be on-site while guests are in attendance
* have business licenses
* pay appropriate taxes
* provide off-street parking for guests

It's hard to argue with these because they strike a proper balance which seems to be missed by all the folks who benefit from Airbnb but easily discount the costs placed on others (that they don't assume themselves). Remember the days when Airbnb sang the happy tunes of being part of the "sharing economy" and as an effort for nice folks to generate some needed income from idle space they own? It was almost folksy. Well, with the influx of the hungry investor class and Wall Street seeking to maximize profits, Airbnb now has a valuation (30 billion) that exceeds regular hotels put together...seems kind of odd, doesn't it, for a company that professes it's just a well meaning service helping the middle class attain a better return for their space? And it's no longer a "sharing economy"...it's a vulture that acts first, then asks for forgiveness and permission later. In many markets, Airbnb properties are owner by investors who rent out multiple properties. That nice guy renting out his extra room to make ends meet and have a secure financial life has been largely overshadowed with sophisticated investors buying up property just to rent it on Airbnb (one of our condo entrepreneurs was doing the same thing). If you want to be a business, then act like a business with all the pain, regulation, and responsibility that comes along with it. I've gotta hand it to Airbnb, they've craftily narrowed their focal range of responsibility, outright shirked being typecast as a lodging business (they're only an IT "matching" business like Uber, another bad actor) and charged ahead full steam with no shame whatsoever...they only come to the table when they've been shamed or brought there by lawsuits. See no evil, hear no evil seems to be their motto. Airbnb exists because technology has often outpaced the ability of public policy to deal with the (negative) outcomes and ensure a playing field that treats everyone with the respect they deserve. It started out as a great concept but has been defiled by groups of people whose interest is greed and how to make a fast buck, and that includes Airbnb itself which is more than happy to "look the other way" because it has written itself out of all responsibilities (great lawyers and lobbyists "working on" politicians all the time).

The prior comparison of a B & B operation misses the point that this type of business goes in front of a public body (local government) and gets permission to operate and has to do so within the confines of rules. The discussion is in a public sphere where neighbors can make their concerns heard; a public meeting notice is posted so that interested/affected folks can attend. A person setting up an Airbnb does it without the knowledge or permission of anyone who may be affected. That's the difference. Airbnb just wants to skip the referee altogether because it's pesky to their business model.

The funny thing is that one of the very positive things about Airbnb is that you get a unique property - but now, Airbnb is moving in the direction of the same standardization that exists in hotel rooms. This is because guest experience is really uneven...it all depends on the host, and some should not be in the lodging business at all as they are total "hacks". I think Airbnb is great in concept and I support the rules above that Charleston came up with. Anything else is a charade.

Posted by
4745 posts

It is grand that Airbnb provides a "service" to travellers (and makes a pile of money at it) but it is a DISSERVICE to the other tenants in an apartment building. How can this be denied? Do Airbnb renters not care about that? Encountering strangers with luggage every few days in the elevator or lobby, who will not meet your gaze, is invasive and discombobulating.

I never knew that people felt discombobulated when strangers failed to make eye contact. That pretty much describes a cultural norm in Sweden. I lived in a legal rental unit in Stockholm for two years and never met a single neighbor other than occasionally passing someone in the staircase who may or may not have actually lived in the building. Similarly, I did not know any of my neighbors in the apartment building I lived in in London (also legal). I traveled nearly every week for business. I never got the impression that the fact I carried a suitcase in the lift caused stress to other tenants.

I think your statement is a pretty broad sweep. It is clear you find renting via airbnb to be unethical. I don't find it to be so cut and dried. What I find to be the ethical issues are whether the property owner is complying with local regulations and whether the renter is respectful of the rules and neighbors. My worst neighbor ever rented the place next door legally. His out-of-control teenagers, their frequent parties, and their total disrespect for the neighbors was what discombobulated me; it wasn't luggage or lack of eye contact.

There have been short term rentals for years. Is a short term rental automatically bad because the owner lists through airbnb? In the 70s, my family rented a house for a week at the beach every summer in a resort town. The majority of properties were owned by out-of-town owners. In the 70s, you used a local agent to rent the property. Now that same property might be rented on airbnb. Similarly, I stayed in a lot of private rooms when I was traveling in the 80s. I'd find them by going to the tourist office or by seeing a sign outside. Now, those same rooms might be rented via airbnb.

Airbnb disrupted the rental market; communities haven't figured out how to enforce regulations and airbnb is not going out of its way to validate that owners are in compliance.

Posted by
8293 posts

Well, there is the pro side and there is the con side. I understand that the economics of Airbnb, whether as a tourist or as one with an abode to rent, makes it a here-to-stay money saver and money maker. As such it will not go away. Ever.

Posted by
2526 posts

The full impact of short term rentals is being felt not only in Europe but even in my little city with almost 10% of residences now offering short term rentals. Several years ago, rentals were at least monthly and much longer and housed significantly less than the potential occupancy. Cramming a unit with two or more families is now common, so density has increased...arriving with a party-on mentality. Where do locals live that can't afford to buy or pay rents much higher than before? How you spend travel monies can have significant long term impacts in cities that may be not noticed by you.

Posted by
13753 posts

The City of Charleston, SC has come up with the following tenets of
short-term rentals (STRs) in an effort to preserve their
neighborhoods:

Tenets or laws?

I hope laws.....

How you spend travel monies can have significant long term impacts in cities that may be not noticed by you.

Bruce, correct. Your travel money can be utilized to give legitimacy to corrupt governments and prop up dictators. It can be used to rebuild neighborhoods destroyed during war and hostile occupation. It can be used to increase sales at the mom and pop grocery store so pop can have the income to send his daughters to college. It can be used to raise property values to the point were Mr. A is forced to rent someplace else, but Mr. B, can now have the resources to retire with dignity.... Yup, complex.

Posted by
6882 posts

They are not laws yet...the City is trying to deal with the issue and get a lot of public input.
There are a lot of comments both pro (especially regulated short-term properties) and cons...see survey link. I admit that Charleston is unique in that it's next to impossible to get street parking and most of it is a historical district, so anyone running a lodging establishment has to provide parking accommodations for their guests. Where I live there's no free street parking anywhere either.
http://charleston-sc.gov/index.aspx?nid=1520

Posted by
2526 posts

Should we consider housing issues of lower income folks (they provide many of the essential services we demand) while wealthier folks, staying in a now daily rentals, blithely ignore them during a thoroughly enjoyable holiday?

Posted by
6882 posts

Bruce, I don't disagree with you, especially thinking of expensive ski resorts like Telluride or Veil, or Tulum in Mexico (which used to be a small village and is now overtaken by luxury properties when there is improper sanitation that doesn't keep up with the development). But the problem is that tourists easily ignore this, as it's expected that the localities themselves (meaning local politicians) worry and take steps to ensure their housing stock is not only for the wealthy. But what happens when the politicians themselves are corrupt and the public doesn't hold their feet to the fire? I live in an area where it's a huge issue but you could see it coming a long time ago, as developers were allowed to tear down affordable housing to put up stuff that only the wealthy can afford. That affordable housing has never been replaced and now the cities are scrambling and trying to catch up, and lack the funds to buy expensive land outright. I believe tourists will not be in the ideal position to act in favor of a locality's housing mix as much as the folks who actually live there and the government they elect - simply because they're too far removed from the problem and they're "temporary". It would be nice if they acted otherwise, but it's not rational for them to think beyond their happy vacations.

Posted by
13753 posts

Agnes, it sounds like Charleston is going about it the right way.

Should we consider housing issues of lower income folks (they provide
many of the essential services we demand) while wealthier folks,
staying in a now daily rentals, blithely ignore them during a
thoroughly enjoyable holiday?

Bruce, yes. Although i don't ignore anyone because of their position in life. You seem to think there is some universal truth in your beliefs. The situation that i am most familiar with hundreds, if not thousands, were pulled up out of poverty when their property values increased. Should we have said, what you got is good enough because while 75% own, 25% just rent?

I imagine in other areas renters have been displaced by because the apartment's highest and best value was for short-term rentals. But as a consequence cleaning crews were created to maintain the rentals and the mom and pop grocery market is now selling more higher markup prepackaged dinners and the higher values pay higher taxes which subsidize public education and public transportation for another corner of the city...... Any time you suck money from Point A to Point B you are doing good for your community; and there is no better way to do it than tourism.

Having the government picking winner and losers by implementing artificial values was tried in the East and it was proven not to work.

Posted by
6882 posts

James,
It's not to say that it's not a tug-of-war without some degree of NIMBYism. Some people won't give an inch, claiming that their home values will drop if there's a rental place next door or that everyone renting for less than 30 days is a criminal or poses some safety risk (that sounds ridiculous to me), or that some kind of "happy medium" can't be reached. But I do think both sides need to understand each other's point of view and concerns. I don't feel that Airbnb has done that, but then again, the local governments are totally caught of guard and don't know how to respond quickly. Airbnb is definitely a disrupter and will cause many people to do some self-reflection they haven't had to do with before about all sorts of things....quality of life, neighborhood character, what it means to be a good home-owner or resident, the nature of the hospitality industry, high costs of living, negative externalities on existing neighbors, etc. I can certainly understand that it's very difficult to spend a week in a place like NYC at a traditional hotel...and why Airbnb has taken off there before they were smacked down. There is a need to fill a market niche for more affordable lodging in extremely high-priced cities.

Posted by
13753 posts

Agnes, you might find this hard to believe, but i have no great love or hatred for AirBnb and i have never paid to stay in a short term rental. Just not my style.

But as long as short-term rentals are working within the law then I push back when someone wants purport otherwise. I also push back on gross over generalizations and the chanting of mindless mantras born out of total ignorance. I think you and i probably agree about that much.

I also love democracy. When a situation presents itself, then it is incumbent upon good citizens to come together, argue, discuss and argue some more; and when the situation dictates the citizens should change the laws. That appears to be what is happening in Charleston. Be sure that the penalties for breaking the law are severe and immediate and you will be successful.

Posted by
8293 posts

James E. "... the chanting of mindless mantras born out of total ignorance." Could you give us an example of the mindless mantras (nice turn of phrase, by the way) and total ignorance of which you speak? It is a bit rude to take such a superior attitude to your fellow forum members, but maybe I misjudge you.

Posted by
6882 posts

But as long as short-term rentals are working within the law then I
push back when someone wants purport otherwise.

The problem is that people who book an Airbnb overseas cannot (and arguably should not) presume one way or the other since they rarely have the local laws in front of them. That's probably why there are so many questions about booking via Airbnb to begin with, people don't know what to expect. With a registered hotel, it's straightforward..one doesn't have to ask "is it legal?" Whether someone has many prior great experiences elsewhere or not really doesn't have a bearing on what the local laws are in another place. I'd rather take the cues from the local government, not from Airbnb. Airbnb has already demonstrated that they have not always operated in good faith, but in fairness they've taken several very positive steps as in upping the insurance coverage and offering "instant booking" to minimize outright discrimination. But, in the end, I'll go with what the community wants over what Airbnb or its frequent guest want. I'd love to ask the many Airbnb folks who rented in my condo development if they had the Condo Bylaws in front of them when they rented the room, or if the owner provided that info so they can determine legality. It wasn't me who objected to the frequent comings and goings of guests, it was actually other owners in adjacent units.

Posted by
13753 posts

Agnes, good point. Listen i am not defending AirBnb. There are really two discussions here. One is about AirBnb and the other about the Short-Term rentals in general. While they do overlap, they are two subjects. For instance the arguments above about innocent people being displaced by higher rents has nothing to do with AirBnb, it has to do with short-term rentals. Close down AirBnb and people will use Craig's List and VRBO and private websites, etc. and nothing changes.

I don't know enough about AirBnb or any of the platforms to argue if they are good people or not. Sure sounds like they are at the very least ignorant of how to promote a good image; and at worst involved in criminal acts. When any rental platform is aiding in the commission of a crime I think they should be held accountable. I would support any laws that makes that easier. But i suspect that while the issue is huge in certain places, worldwide the issue of them being illegal or in violation of the condo rules is part of a very small minority and for some to throw out blanket statements making it sound otherwise isn't productive to solving the issues.

If you go to the France forum and hunt deep enough you can find a number of threads that make it known that its just about impossible to legally rent an apartment in Paris, and you will note that the majority that responded just don't care. They rationalize breaking the law one way or another. You will also find me telling them they are part of the problem by doing so. So i am balanced in this thing.

Posted by
341 posts

There are really two discussions here. One is about AirBnB and the other about the Short-Term rentals in general. While they do overlap, they are two subjects. For instance the arguments above about innocent people being displaced by higher rents has nothing to do with AirBnB, it has to do with short-term rentals. Close down AirBnB and people will use Craig's List and VRBO and private websites, etc. and nothing changes.

Exactly. If short term rentals are detrimental to the neighborhood and the neighborhood association has decided to nix them, then that's the breaks, and it's fair, and I get it. But condo and homeowners associations are now part of the problem if they are not talking about this proactively. Homeowners who want to be AirBnB renters should have the opportunity to go before their board and make their case. If there are hoops to jump through, then give them the opportunity to jump through them.

Yet, I do feel that some of the participants in this discussion are so anti-AirBnB that they haven't even explored the website to see some of the truly unique places that travelers would not normally have the opportunity to stay in. Barges under the Eiffel Tower in Paris...tree houses in Canada....a boat docked at the marina in Monaco. These are great options, and I'm not sure how they hurt the local population.

Posted by
13026 posts

This piece of information may or may NOT be dated. Last June I saw in Berlin at one of the train stations a headline saying that Berlin Senate had ruled against AirBnB in Berlin, which meant it was not allowed to operate in Berlin....good. Whether that is news no longer current, I don't know, since this issue goes back and forth.

Posted by
2466 posts

Actually, AirBnB, VRBO/HomeAway and all short-term vacation websites must have a registration number tied to the property owner's tax information and be displayed on the website.
Tenants with yearly leases may ask the owner to register for them, if they want to bother with that.
Everyone must declare revenue.
Between Oct and the end of Dec, property owners must register online or will be blocked from the internet.
There will surely be a black market in apartment rentals, but I think the inventory will be shrinking, due to owners who feel it's not worth it.

Posted by
13753 posts

chexbres, I understand that reaching this point was difficult, but are you happy with the results?

Posted by
13753 posts

chexbres, you've been discussing the issues in Paris for quite sometime. Sounds like some of the issues are getting resolved. Are you good with the progress or .... ??? Just curious. What works in Paris might be a good model for other places....

Posted by
2466 posts

Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans - among other cities - are taking steps to limit short-term rentals.
It's good to pass on information.

Posted by
3355 posts

...and the "battle" in NYC is failing as those against AirBnB (namely the Big Hotel industry) are in desperation mode. They are now airing ads saying that AirBnB is linked to terrorism. That doesn't play well here....and thank goodness for that.

We support AirBnB when we see consistent great reviews and we are traveling with our extended family. This is how travel is affordable and lets our young nieces and nephews travel the world and experience other cultures via "the back door" as is Rick Steves philosophy and book title.

Posted by
914 posts

I used Air BnB once and don't have a desire to do so again. I'm not interested in Uber, either, but I work in the transportation industry and see sides (good and bad) to the shared economy that others may not see. Regular B&Bs I've enjoyed, but sometimes I really don't want to chit chat with a host or make small talk with strangers at breakfast. Those times, I'd rather stay in a hotel.

When I talk to the front desk staffer at a small hotel or say hello to the maid in the hallway or smile and make light conversation with the breakfast room staff, that is a Back Door experience for me. I think it is possible to "connect with the locals" even though you aren't staying a la Air BnB.

Posted by
7718 posts

AirBnB is legal. Where it's not, it's shut down or the owners are skirting the law and will likely eventually get caught.

AirBnB as a platform is legal. However, at least here in Paris--the only place that I claim to know anything about--many of the apartments being offered on the platform are being offered in contravention of the local laws that govern under what conditions owners may rent their apartments on a short-term basis. That is, many of the apartment offerings are illegal and contravene French and local city law.

There was a rash of articles this week in the French press about an explosion in fines that the city of Paris is imposing on those renting apartments illegally in the first six months of 2017 compared to 2016. The overall # of people fined is still infinitesimally small compared with the # of apartments available on AirBnB or other platforms (60,000 apartments offered in Paris on AirBnB alone), but the amounts of money that people are having to pay will make other owners-become-parttime-room-renters sit up and pay attention -- if they're watching. Press reports indicate that judges are becoming less lenient, as well, because they consider that the laws governing short-term rentals are becoming more and more well known, so they are less willing to meet pleas of ignorance with favor.

In Jan-Jun 2016, owners renting their apartments out illegally paid 45,000 euros of fines to the city of Paris. In Jan-Jun 2017, they paid 615,000 euros. (These are owners who did not declare their apartments with the city and who rented them out for more than 120 days.) The total paid by the end of the year may be more than a million euros.

http://immobilier.lefigaro.fr/article/locations-a-paris-les-amendes-contre-les-fraudeurs-explosent_a166aa08-7e65-11e7-970c-8bdfd21bf322/

http://www.leparisien.fr/economie/airbnb-a-paris-les-amendes-infligees-aux-loueurs-de-meubles-touristiques-explosent-11-08-2017-7186869.php

As the deputy mayor for housing was quoted in the article,

« On ne fait pas la chasse aux Parisiens qui louent leur appartement pour mettre du beurre dans les épinards, insiste Ian Brossat, et qui peuvent, grâce à ces revenus, se maintenir dans la capitale. Ce qu'on cible, ce sont ces multipropriétaires qui, sciemment, choisissent de transformer des logements en machines à cash. »

"We are not hunting down the Parisians who are renting their apartment to have a little extra income, insists Ian Brossat, and who can, thanks to this income, stay in the city. What we're targeting are these multi-property owners who, knowingly, are choosing to transform their apartments into ATMs."

Posted by
2466 posts

NewsFlash - AirBnB cancelled all "suspicious" accounts in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Going to be even hotter in Charlottesville, tonight...

Posted by
8293 posts

A member of the Province of Alberta's Legislature has had to apologize and take a leave of absence when it was found he was renting on Airbnb his tax payer subsidized condo. An expensive lesson in ethics for that gentleman.

Posted by
2251 posts

"NewsFlash - AirBnB cancelled all "suspicious" accounts in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Going to be even hotter in Charlottesville, tonight..."

Yes, and it's nice to have an example of Air doing something most would applaud, shameful what's happening there :-(

Posted by
11613 posts

Charlottesville, huh? Not exactly Paris.

Posted by
2466 posts

I found this interesting because AirBnB took it upon itself - management - to investigate a whole group's social media contacts.
Anywhere else, it would be illegal to deny a client on the basis of race, age, religion, and the investigation of his/her social media contacts.

Posted by
63 posts

2 experiences.
First was 3 weeks in London in a Studio Apt near Battersea park. Wonderful. Very accommodating owner, great building with concierge. Perfect location.

Second was to be for 1 week in London. In Islington. It was 90°F. Wife has MS, so we had to have A/C. Found a neat looking modern studio with AC near a tube station.
Cabbie dropped is off in a pretty sad looking spot. No one to greet us. Phone calls were made, owner finally arrived after a 45 minute wait on the sidewalk. The place was a dump. Looked like it was shared by 6 college freshman. Refrigerator in the living room? Bags of clothes in a closet. No AC.
Owner walked away. We called AirBnB and they told us they would investigate and get back to us in a week!!!!!! Wife got on the phone and let them have it.
They called the owner who insisted he never offered AC. Luckily someone was able to recover the original ad, and found that the pics used were copied from somewhere else. We got a refund, the owner was banned, and we managed to find a hotel.
Never again.

Posted by
11978 posts

More personal experience. All the Airbnb places I've stayed stated "no parties" as part of the house rules.

I disagree that Airbnb makes rents go up. Demand makes rents go up; Airbnb is just one option for meeting demand. Generally increased supply lowers cost. Someone renting a room in their helps meet demand and eases pressure on rental/hotel prices.

Some condos allow short term rentals and others don't. Often buyers seek buildings that allow short term rentals at beaches and ski resorts so they can offset their costs of ownership. If I bought a vacation condo, relying on rental income to offset the cost, I'd be fairly upset if the rules changed under me. If I planned to make it my home and not rent, I'd make a point of buying in a building that didn't allow short term rentals and expect the condo association to uphold the rules.

I'll be staying at a tiny Airbnb apartment in Paris at the end of my upcoming trip, my first Airbnb in Paris, we'll see how it goes. This is another property that wouldn't work for most Americans; it's on the 6th floor and has no elevator. I don't mind because I'm reasonably fit and pack very light.

Posted by
8293 posts

Oh, Brad! A tiny apartment on the 6th floor with no lift! Sounds like one of those tiny top floor one room places where t the servants were housed in Haussman's time. Hope you won't be there during a heat wave, or a cold snap.

Posted by
7718 posts

It's pretty simple how AirBnB makes rents go up. By removing significant numbers of apartments from the long-term rental market in a particular place, there is created an increased demand for the remaining apartments ==> and as you said yourself, scarcity creates demand, makes for higher prices.

You started your paragraph denying that AirBnB could make rental prices for apartments go up, and finished by noting how it could lower the price of hotel rooms. Apples and oranges.

That was easy.

Posted by
13753 posts

Why do you like AirBnB so much?

Well I don’t really have any feelings about AirBnb at all. I do love the concept of the entrepreneurship behind short term rentals. Where the internet has provided a marketing vehicle that allows mom and pop to compete with Marriott and Hilton; and do it successfully. I love it when I hear how the increase in property values has increased the personal wealth of the owners of those apartments. The old eastern bloc states have extremely high rates of home ownership; 80% to 90% and that’s real worth in their pockets for better retirement or education for their children. The increased value has led to safety and sanitation improvements, repairs and paint. Derelict neighborhoods are coming back to life again. The tourist money is funding restaurants and pubs and grocery stores; each with owners and staff that have better lives as a result. I love capitalism….. No government funded infrastructure improvements could have done so much good in so short a period time, or benefitted more people.

Posted by
4745 posts

I found this interesting because AirBnB took it upon itself - management - to investigate a whole group's social media contacts.
Anywhere else, it would be illegal to deny a client on the basis of race, age, religion, and the investigation of his/her social media contacts

AirBnB did not cancel their reservations based on race, age or religion.