Earlier this year, my friend and I traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to catch a game at Turner Field and check out the sites downtown. Not wanting to shell out a couple hundred dollars for a hotel room in the middle of the city, we booked a place to stay through Airbnb, a website that links travelers seeking an alternative to overpriced hotels and homeowners with rooms to rent.
After searching for a room within our budget and reading the reviews, we settled on a condo located just a couple of miles from the stadium. When we arrived, we walked into a place that was clean and homey and included a private parking spot for our car. Our host even left behind a note and bottle of wine as a welcoming gift. A few days later, we “checked out” of our room and headed home. Honestly, we couldn’t have asked for a better or more convenient place to stay.
Airbnb Not all Rainbows and Sunshine
While there are many benefits of the service for both the vacationer and homeowner, some folks who live near Airbnb hosts aren’t happy and they’re letting it be known. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, officials in Silver Lake have started to complain that Airbnb has taken over their community. Angry residents voiced their concerns at a heated public hearing last month and are asking the neighborhood council to crackdown on hosts “to reduce noise, traffic and parking problems.” According to one council member, Airbnb rentals violate local zoning laws which prohibit rentals shorter than 30 days with the exception of licensed hotels and bed and breakfasts.
A Lifeline for Homeowners
Proponents of Airbnb argue that many homeowners rely on the website to supplement their incomes and help them cover living expenses in a down economy. In fact, in a recent study of San Francisco, Airbnb found that 56% of hosts use their rental earnings to help pay their mortgage or rent. Critics in Silver Lake say that many folks are simply “hiding behind false claims of financial desperation.” Regardless of what side of the debate you’re on, it will be interesting to see how this issue will be handled and what it will mean for similar cases across the country.