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Businesses The Almighty Buck

Airbnb Fires Back, Accuses Hotel Industry Of Punishing the Middle-Class (thehill.com) 106

According to a legal documents, the American Hotel and Lodging Association (lobbying group for hotels in the U.S.) kicked off a plan last year to fight back Airbnb and other home-sharing services with a $5.6 million annual budget. Airbnb has responded to the revelation. From a report: The company's head of policy, Christopher Lehane, accused hoteliers of price-gouging customers and called their fight against Airbnb a "campaign to punish the middle-class" in a letter. It's only the latest salvo in a long fight between Airbnb and the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), which believes the startup is cutting into its business. [...] In a letter to the AHLA, Airbnb accused the group of trying to hurt middle-class property owners. The Airbnb head of policy argued that "we ought to be able to agree that the middle-class family that shares their home while traveling is not a commercial operator running a business." In its minutes, the AHLA alleged that many of the listings on Airbnb are operated by commercial entities. Lehane also accused the AHLA of being inconsistent on homesharing. He said the group's board meeting showed support for "the rights of property owners to occasionally rent out a room or their home."

Airbnb Fires Back, Accuses Hotel Industry Of Punishing the Middle-Class

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  • "We are just going to lobby to make your idea Illegal!" How Pathetic! :-P
    • "We are just going to lobby to make your idea Illegal!" How Pathetic! :-P

      It already is illegal. 90% of airbnb are regulation breaking hotels, not people renting out their own appartments.

      • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

        Is that an accurate figure, or one you pulled from an orifice? What I know is only anecdotal evidence.

    • Which shows that lobby are the real problem.

      In other country (e.g.: France) on-line systems for people renting out their appartment - all the way to small hotel-like family-operated business - have existed for ages without any problems.

      As such technologies started to appear (in France : all the way back to minitels) society and legislation simply adapted to it.

  • Choices. (Score:2, Insightful)

    I work remotely and need to be at a few different sites a few times per month.

    For ~$50/night at AirBNB I can get a quiet room, a place to sleep and no distractions.

    A hotel in the ~$50-$100/night range has a hall that smells like weed. People wandering up and down the halls at all hours of the night and hit or miss bed bugs.

    • A hotel in the ~$50-$100/night range has a hall that smells like weed. People wandering up and down the halls at all hours of the night and hit or miss bed bugs.

      I guess you and I stay in a different class of hotel.

      • That likely depends on where and when you spend the night at a hotel. For example, a really nice hotel in the middle of Bumblefuck, Missouri in the middle of September will likely cost nothing, whereas a hotel that happens to be where and when Superbowl Sunday is being held is either going to be really expensive or really shitty (or, sometimes both.)

      • Re: Choices. (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Sigh. Air bnb doesn't have to shoulder the cost of maintaing a property or staff, nor do they directly control customer experience. This is such strawman BS it isn't even funny. Give us abreak, already. The sharing economy was a bad, bad idea. I predict that in ten years, any of these companies that are actually left will just be traditional companies. Crowdsourcing is not a viable business model, ultimately. No, I would call most of this a 'fad'. Fads pass.

        • Re: Choices. (Score:2, Informative)

          by cptdondo ( 59460 )

          You really have no clue how airbnb works, do you?

          Try being a host. You'll discover that pretty much everything you said is wrong.

          • So, as a host, Airbnb pays for the rooms upkeep, the staffs hourly wages to be on call should the guest require an extra towel, or the toilet unblocking...? Or does the host pay for that?

            • by cptdondo ( 59460 )

              You do understand how AirBnB works, right? The guests pay AirBnB to find hosts. The hosts pay AirBnB to find guests. AirBnB makes sure everyone gets paid. No different from Orbitz, or Ebay, or Amazon. Or are those all passing fads too?

              And how does anything you said have anything to do with crowdsourcing and a sharing economy? We get paid to provide a service. The guests pay to use the service. We pay an agent to make it happen.

      • I guess you and I stay in a different class of hotel.

        Absolutely. To get near the same experience as with AirBNB I could stay in a $160/night hotel.

        Now I'm looking at $640 wk vs $200 wk.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          Tough luck. If the difference is between my neighbour being allowed to turn the home into a for rent party house 7 days a week and it being strictly against planning laws to attempt to turn any home into a hotel at a whim, I stick to the strict planning laws, thank you very much. Having trouble affording holiday accommodation, than buy a bloody tent, no hotels in areas zoned residential only and huge fines for those who attempt to break those planning laws.

          • Having trouble affording holiday accommodation, than buy a bloody tent,

            But if everyone did that, there wouldn't be enough tent sites, either. Or vehicle camping sites, etc etc. There's a finite supply of those, and cities are hesitant to approve more of them because they can become migrant camps and what they really want are vacation spots. Most places aren't going to approve any new affordable ones, they're going to want expensive ones like RV timeshares.

          • by cptdondo ( 59460 )

            This is funny. No host wants their houses to be turned into party house.

            The vast majority of hosts pre-screen their guests; we have turned down people who have bad reviews. We do not allow parties. We comply with zoning codes.
            As do most hosts - it's impossible to get insurance otherwise.

            The problem is that a few cities do not have effective regulations of bed-and-breakfast operations, and tend to enforce on a "complaint" basis. The fault lies with the cities, not with VRBO or AirBnB or whoever else.

            We l

          • Having trouble affording holiday accommodation, than buy a bloody tent, no hotels in areas zoned residential only and huge fines for those who attempt to break those planning laws.

            In other countries (e.g.: France), renting apartment is considered pretty normal whereas you deffinitely aren't free to put your tent anywhere else except is a few designated camping area (that you must pay, and make reservations in advance).

            Thus AirBnB-like service are considered pretty much normal there and have been exist long before (all the way back to the minitel-era)

    • Re:Choices. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20, 2017 @07:19PM (#54273121)

      AirBNB is causing property investors to buy up condos/homes with the pure intention of putting them up on AirBNB. This is driving up home prices by causing an artificial inventory shortage where entire blocks of cities don't have a resident, only AirBNB renters.

      This hurts the middle class.

      [Source: Harvard Law & Policy Review - http://harvardlpr.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/10.1_10_Lee.pdf]

      • He shoulda posted on a UID. The above deserves to be noted.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          I'm not a "he", but I prefer to remain anonymous and let my post be judged on it's merit rather than internet points.

      • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

        Why can't the middle class also buy up condos/homes and put them on AirBNB?

        • Re:Choices. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @08:31PM (#54273411)

          Why can't the middle class also buy up condos/homes and put them on AirBNB?

          Get a clue... the middle class lacks the free money to buy an extra house just to rent out. Many in the middle class are often themselves renting because they don't have the free money to buy even a house for themselves, nevermind a spare one to rent out... meanwhile they are being evicted from those rentals so the owner can rent it by the day more lucratively on sites like airbnb.

          Your solution to them being kicked out their rental to make room for airbnb, is to buy 2 houses; so that they too can benefit from airbnb!

          "Let them eat cake!" am i right?

          • Agreed ... How could anyone think middle class can afford multiple houses just for renting? For sure if we could rent everyday at maximum price it would not take long to pay the load ... but try convince the banker of that dream you are having would lend you money!

          • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

            the middle class lacks the free money to buy an extra house just to rent out.

            Yes, "I can't afford to invest in my future" is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

            • by vux984 ( 928602 )

              Yes, "I can't afford to invest in my future" is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

              Heh. The number one rule of smart investing is diversification. For the average middle class family to buy a 2nd house (and not just some small affordable rental income property in the suburbs... it pretty much has to be "downtown" to be much of a draw to airbnb guests...

              Then you are tying up 100,000 to 200,000 just in the down payment; and taking on a large 2nd mortgage.

              If your net worth is say, 500,000; and half of that is in your primary residence, would you put the rest all in one stock? even a blue-chi

              • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

                and not just some small affordable rental income property in the suburbs... it pretty much has to be "downtown" to be much of a draw to airbnb guests...

                Oh good, then people renting suburban homes are practically immune to being evicted by owners who want to turn them into Airbnb rentals.

                • by vux984 ( 928602 )

                  "Oh good, then people renting suburban homes are practically immune to being evicted by owners who want to turn them into Airbnb rentals."

                  Depends exactly how "suburban". Far enough away from amenities, and public transit etc, then yeah... airbnb people aren't remotely as interested.

        • by bjohnson ( 3225 )

          Because the "middle class" is broke enough that they have to rent out their spare rooms on AirBnB to keep the rest of the roof over their heads...

        • Donald, go back to tweeting. You don't understand people outside the 1%, and most of what we talk about on this site is the cyber anyway.

      • Rent in general does this same thing already. People buy up properties just to rent them out which forces home prices up which makes it harder for people to buy and forces them to rent from the people who started that cycle by buying up the housing to rent it out.

        That exact mechanism, generalized to all capital besides just real estate, is exactly what causes the runaway concentration of wealth that breaks a truly free market and turns it into capitalism.

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        Isn't there a diminishing return on this? Some point where AirBnB inventory is saturated and the so-called investors are owning properties that mostly remain vacant, and eventually the market inventory for permanent housing faces a surge in available properties as speculators look to get out from under their under-performing rental properties? It sounds to me like it will turn out like every other real estate speculation bubble.

        If this didn't happen, and somehow AirBnB's model managed to permanently shrin

        • Isn't there a diminishing return on this? Some point where AirBnB inventory is saturated and the so-called investors are owning properties that mostly remain vacant, and eventually the market inventory for permanent housing faces a surge in available properties as speculators look to get out from under their under-performing rental properties?

          Yes its self-balancing. However if the supply of housing isnt allowed to grow to meet demand, then one should look at why the supply of housing isn't growing to meet demand, because any "balance" achieved under artificial restrictions wont necessarily resemble the balance that you expected.

          I believe in the San Fransisco area right now growth in both low density and high density housing is being greatly restricted by these zoning boards. Its ok tho, because people in California want a nanny.

        • by cptdondo ( 59460 )

          That's happening here. Lots and lots of people have entered the rental pool, mostly renting out short term on weekends and holidays and when they're not home; these people typically rent very low. While people like us have a full-time rental and we actually need to have a return on investment. AirBnB wants us to rent at low prices to keep their fees rolling in, while we want to rent high to maximize profits. We stay booked about 80% of the time which is about what we want.

          • by swb ( 14022 )

            I may be misinterpreting this, but maybe AirBnB is actually structuring their model in a way designed to encourage casual rentals (ie, spare bedroom or whatever) and discourage more commercial rental operators (people that buy living space explicitly for short term commercial rental).

            I can see where people who are trying to use AirBnB as a business service would be something they may not want -- people who are profit/investment/business focused about it would be more demanding and less malleable to AirBnB,

    • by Shados ( 741919 )

      AirBNB is pretty good for the customers, no real argument there.. It just forces the neighbors who signed up to live in a residential area to live like they were next to a hotel.

      • AirBNB is pretty good for the customers, no real argument there.. It just forces the neighbors who signed up to live in a residential area to live like they were next to a hotel.

        This is where neighbors need to work together if someone causes a nuisance by becoming an AirBNB landlord that simply uses the property as a rental. We have a number of lawyers and cops in my neighborhood so it wouldn't be hard to determine what laws are being broken and start complaining so the owner and or renters get fined for violations. For example, if someone is having a loud party have the police show up and if they continue arrest or ticket them. Illegally parked car? Drunk in public? Same thing. Ma

        • by Shados ( 741919 )

          It's so much more complicated than that. We don't have many laws to handle things people don't generally do. Laws are almost always drafted as a reaction to things.

          There's no law stopping llarge amount of strangers coming in an out of a peaceful neighborhood at any hour of the night. Because in a residential, high owner ratio neighborhood, that just doesn't happen.

          Until AirBNB comes in and changes everything in a few years. AirBNB itself is often breaking municipal zoning rules (using a residential zoned ar

      • AirBNB is pretty good for the customers, no real argument there.. It just forces the neighbors who signed up to live in a residential area to live like they were next to a hotel.

        You mean as opposed to living next door to the houses in practically every suburban neighborhood where the kids have a garage band 'rehearsing' after school?

        How about we just limit the number of properties/rooms someone can put up on ABnB and/or require the property be the primary residence of the property owner who must occupy it a minimum number of months per year to prevent commercial exploitation?

        It seems to me that a private homeowner should be given the maximum amount of freedom to do with his propert

        • by Shados ( 741919 )

          You mean as opposed to living next door to the houses in practically every suburban neighborhood where the kids have a garage band 'rehearsing' after school?

          The thing is those are not mutually exclusive. There's a certain level of things we tolerate as a society. And those things add up. I have a few neighbors with noisy kids. Not all my neighbors have noisy kids, because statistics. If I have neighbors with noisy kids AND neighbors with noisy AirBNB, that's just twice as bad.

          It seems to me that a private h

          • Not all my neighbors have noisy kids, because statistics.

            Not all your neighbors rent through ABnB because statistics. Why is the garage band next door OK but not someone putting a spare room on ABnB for some extra cash? ABnB guests who are noisy or otherwise objectionable are the exception because statistics.

            Yup. As long as it doesn't prevent other people from enjoying their properties.

            Ah see, and there's the rub! Who defines and sets the standards for what "preventing other people from enjoying their properties" constitutes exactly, and what all does that or can that cover?

            Too much legal gray area has been left and so is being legislated t

        • How about we just limit the number of properties/rooms someone can put up on ABnB and/or require the property be the primary residence of the property owner who must occupy it a minimum number of months per year to prevent commercial exploitation?

          How about instead you just stop fucking with the liberties of other people?

          Not only isnt what you offer a solution to the problem, its not even the actual problem.

    • do I really want a traveler in my house? It's not hard to cart those things around... Air BnB, like Uber, seems like another example of way too much risk being foisted on the user. Far more than they realize.
    • AirBnB is better, short term, for the consumer sure. However, even that weed hotel has to have safety standads that the quiet room doesn't, so it's entirely possible that rarely AirBnB is much more costly. Beyond that, AirBnB imposes huge externalities on the rest of the society you are staying in. Amazingly, those places, democracies, are far more interested in their quality of life than you saving money when you visit. Hence, the hotels, which concentrate shortterm rentals away from residential areas,

  • Let's be honest. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Thursday April 20, 2017 @06:21PM (#54272869)

    Let's be honest.

    AirBnB is "Home Shareing" about as much as Uber is "Ride Sharing".

    • by Anonymous Coward

      > AirBnB is "Home Shareing" about as much as Uber is "Ride Sharing".

      In cities that limit the number of owner-not-present rental nights to 90 per calendar year (like -for example- San Francisco, CA) AirBnB is absolutely a small-operator Bread and Breakfast matchmaking service. If your municipality hasn't structured its regulations to prevent landlords from buying up city blocks of housing and run unregulated hotels, then fix your broken politicians.

      San Francisco's regulations prevent landlords from making

      • In cities that limit the number of owner-not-present rental nights to 90 per calendar year (like -for example- San Francisco, CA) AirBnB is absolutely a small-operator Bread and Breakfast matchmaking service.

        Don't be dense.

  • by cptdondo ( 59460 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @07:25PM (#54273159) Journal

    And yes we have overhead. We pay ourselves. We pay for the space, the utilities, replacement sheets, towels, soap, etc.

    But the bottom line we make a tidy profit at the end of the month on a nice apartment. Why else would you stay in business?

    I support restrictions. AirBnB shoild.be owner occupied, and limited to a few rooms. Many cities have this already.

    It really is a problem where cities don't have effective laws regulating bed and breakfasts as opposed to hotels.

  • by extranatural ( 937162 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @07:29PM (#54273181)
    I live in a city where rental properties are hastily being converted to Airbnb rentals at an alarming rate.

    Many middle class folks, myself included have been recipients of no-fault evictions as landlords rush to cash in on the short-term rental craze.

    At least in my city, Airbnb drives up the price of property, making the dream of home ownership an increasingly distant fantasy for many in the middle class.

    Sure when I travel, I can more easily afford a room for a night, but I'm a lot more concerned with the affordability of a the property I have to rent longterm. One day I hope to afford a mortgage, but I don't know how that will happen if every property gets converted in to an ad-hoc hotel.

    Now if you happen to be one of the lucky middle-class people who already owns 1 or more properties, you might be able to make a little money with Airbnb, but for the most part Airbnb is doing nothing to help the middle class.
  • Resedential (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @07:39PM (#54273213)
    How is keeping residential areas residential punishing the middle class? Don't the middle class have homes that would benefit from not having a loud party next to them every weekend?
  • Airbnb Fires Back, Accuses Hotel Industry Of Punishing the Middle-Class.

    A Silicon Valley firm funded by Sequoia Capital accuses a brick and mortar industry of punishing the middle class. Let's hope they don't try and expand into stand up comedy.

  • If you own property and make money from renting that property out to others you are not middle class, you are upper class, by any measure.

    The proper middle class barely own property enough to not have to borrow it from others.

    The statistical middle class can only dream of such luxury as not borrowing housing, never mind lending it.

    • by deesine ( 722173 )

      I own a second home that I bought and fixed up to rent. That was the fruit from a year when I bought three properties with the aim of either flipping them or fixing then up and keeping then as rentals -- flipped the second and the third burned down during construction. I made less than $50K last year. Your definition of upper class would include me, and that's ridiculous.

      • "I own a second home "

        " Your definition of upper class would include me"

        "and that's ridiculous."

        Time for a bit of introspection, I think.

        • I made less than $50K last year. Your definition of upper class would include me, and that's ridiculous.

          Time for a bit of introspection, I think.

          No, the idea that someone who makes $50k per year should be considered "upper class" is indeed ridiculous, no introspection required. A person is not "upper class" just because they make their money from real estate. To be sure. deriving wealth from investment rather than from working for an employer is part of the definition, but there are other aspects to consider. For one thing, the income has to be significantly above average, which is not the case here. Historically speaking, one's family background pl

      • $50k is twice the average American's income. I make around that much, and it's going to be a lifelong struggle to ever own a FIRST home before I die. That you've apparently bought at least four homes (your own, the rental, the one you flipped, and the one that burned down) makes you spectacularly rich beyond my wildest dreams, and I'M already spectacularly rich by most Americans' standards. Like someone else in this thread already said, I can easily afford anything I want -- except a house. If you've got se

        • by deesine ( 722173 )

          $50k is not twice the Average American income, you're wrong. And that's the highest income I've ever made, it's always less than that.

          Again, you're whacked if you think my situation puts me into the "upper class".

          • The median personal income for the united states is approximately $25k. The mean personal income is closer to $50k but that's not the kind of average people usually use in statistics like this because it is skewed way upward by the concentration of income at the top. The median american household income is also around $50k but the median household also has about two people in it so of course that is twice the personal income, there are twice the persons. And I'm not saying making $50k makes you upper class,

    • I make below median for my area and own 5 houses. I can't afford to buy a house where I work so I rent there. The other 5 I bought gradually, and all are mortgaged. They barely pay for theirselves but in 30 years when the mortgages are paid off I will have a modest retirement income source.

      You can call me upper class, but the fact that my income is below median and I can't afford a house where I live makes your definition quite strange. I do a lot of other things that are strange for upper class, such as d
      • If you are mortgaging then you have lower class borrower status partly cancelling out your upper class rentier status. Your renter status pulls your overall class down too. But if on the whole you are making more from people paying to borrow your capital than you are paying to borrow others', that puts you on the upper side of the class line. Raw income does not define class because it may be coming at the expense of great sacrifice (of time and energy and opportunity, or of goods already owned) and it may

  • Although AirBNB itself is a dark star centralised monopoly it has been a godsend for hosts surviving in places like Spain who risk a lot to use it.
    Likewise, as a guest there are some cities where I can get a room for a price which means I can actually afford to go there. I have also stayed had unique experiences through it I never would have had before AirBNB.

    What the p2p economy needs is leadership from government to assist in competition, such as requirements on API's to allow competitors to searc

  • How many AirBnB listings are just so you can sift through hot women for the ones who are looking to hook up during their stay?

    As a matter of fact, I don't have any faith in humanity.

  • Hotel owners form an organization and act as if they are some sort of authority, gaining political power and maybe some supported legislation. Palms are greased. So now a new thing comes along and the pseudo established authority tries to hold them down. So now the answer is to disestablish any hint of authority or legitimacy of hotel industry associations. This is like the war against Tesla. Auto dealerships join in lock step to crush Tesla as Tesla simply has no need at all to
  • I've gotta laugh at all the whining I'm reading here about loud parties, and neighbors who are suddenly living next to a hotel. I bought my home in a brand new upscale neighborhood full of McMansions seventeen years ago. I expected it to be peaceful, and yet I have kids who ride bikes across my lawn to get to a neighbors trampoline. Other neighbors with souped up hot rods and Harleys that make noise just because they want attention. And other neighbors who's kids come home at 2am with their windows down,

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