The Controversy over Airbnb1 min read
Airbnb can be a godsend for travelers looking to stick to a tight budget, or for those who want to get a more “real” experience in a new destination. With Airbnb, travelers can book rooms, or couches, or futons, with private citizens who are open to welcoming traveling strangers into their homes for a few dollars.
In theory, it makes perfect sense. Travelers get a “native experience” and save some money. Hosts make a little money.
One teensy problem: It might be illegal.
In New York City, there’s a movement to crack down on the scourge that is Airbnb. The problem is that the hosts are not paying hotel taxes. Hotels that do pay the taxes are a little peeved that this new competition is skirting their tax-paying duty, and the New York Times’ Elizabeth Harris reports that the New York state attorney general is on the hotels’ side.
A significant amount of money hangs in the balance – Airbnb’s revenues, the extra spending cash that hosts make, the tax revenue, and of course the out-of-pocket money for travelers. According to Harris’ article, the top 40 Airbnb hosts in New York have each grossed at least $400,000 over the last three years. Wow.
Will Airbnb be able to fight off this legal challenge? Or will the Airbnb era be over before it really got started?
Photo from BrianThacker.com.