Good news from Milan

This blog regularly features updates from around the world about how cities are discussing, and increasingly embracing, the sharing economy.

Today, I’m happy to share some exciting news from Milan. Following a wide ranging public consultation, the City of Milan has committed to helping the sharing economy to thrive and become part of normal daily life for the Milanese people. Milan leaders know that the sharing economy is helping to make Milan a more open, friendly and supportive City to live in and visit.

We agree.

Later this year, Milan is expected to welcome more than 20 million visitors for Expo Milano 2015 where they will come together to tackle the problem of how to achieve sustainable progress in a world of diminishing resources. Our hosts are looking forward to welcoming these guests, sharing the true heart of this great City and spreading the economic benefits of traditional tourism to new businesses and communities beyond the regular tourist hotspots.

Airbnb has a long history of helping communities accommodate big events, including the London Olympics, the World Cup in Brazil and the 2008 Democratic National Convention. When traditional lodging options were at capacity, Airbnb hosts have opened their doors to help accommodate all visitors and provide them with authentic, local experiences.

We are delighted that Milan has become a pioneer of innovation and joined the growing list of destinations across the world that are helping local residents share their homes and the City they love with respectful guests from around the world. We now look forward to working with the City and its residents on how Milan can become a global leader in the sharing economy.


Buone notizie da Milano

Questo blog è sempre aggiornato su come le città di tutto il mondo stanno affrontando, e sempre più abbracciando, la Sharing Economy.

Oggi sono lieto di condividere alcune importanti novità riguardanti Milano. A seguito di una ampia consultazione pubblica, il Comune di Milano si è impegnato ad aiutare la Sharing Economy a crescere e diventare per i milanesi parte della normale vita quotidiana. Gli amministratori sanno che la Sharing Economy sta contribuendo a rendere Milano una città più aperta, accogliente e solidale, per chi ci vive e per chi la visita.

Noi siamo d’accordo.

Nel corso di quest’anno, Milano prevede di accogliere oltre 20 milioni di visitatori per l’Expo 2015 che si incontreranno per riflettere su come ottenere un progresso sostenibile in un mondo dove le risorse sono in diminuzione. I nostri host sono pronti ad accogliere questi ospiti, condividendo con loro lo spirito di questa città e portando i benefici economici del turismo tradizionale a nuove attività locali e quartieri, andando oltre ai luoghi turistici per eccellenza.

Airbnb ha una lunga storia nell’aiutare le community locali ad ospitare grandi eventi, questo è già avvenuto alle Olimpiadi di Londra, per la Coppa del Mondo in Brasile e durante la convention nazionale dei democratici in America nel 2008. Tutte le volte in cui le soluzioni di alloggio tradizionali sono al completo, gli host Airbnb aprono le loro porte per supportare l’accoglienza di tutti i visitatori e offrire un’esperienza locale autentica.

Siamo lieti che la città di Milano sia divenuta pioniera dell’innovazione e abbia aderito alla crescente lista di destinazioni in tutto il mondo che stanno aiutando i propri cittadini a condividere le loro case e le città che amano con ospiti rispettosi provenienti da tutto il mondo. Siamo pronti a lavorare con Milano e i suoi abitanti su come portare la città a ricoprire un ruolo di leader globale della Sharing Economy.

Working Together for Home Sharing in New York City

Seven years ago, two recent graduates who couldn’t pay their rent hosted a few out-of-town guests on air beds in their San Francisco apartment. Later, they created Airbnb, and today thousands of New Yorkers are doing the same thing: welcoming visitors from across the globe into their homes and, along the way, earning a little extra money to help pay the rent, meet their mortgage, or cover rising bills.

We are proud that Airbnb has helped so many New Yorkers through difficult times, but we also understand that as home sharing services like ours become more prevalent, governments are striving to strike the right balance between the transparency and benefits these services provide on the one hand, and the potential for abuses if these sites are overrun with activity that doesn’t help neighborhoods on the other.

Today, the New York City Council is hosting a public hearing on home sharing. We expect Council Members will hear many points of view, including from those who have concerns about parts of this activity.  Some of those concerns are well founded, others less so. We want everyone to know that we’re listening, and that we’re eager to work with all stakeholders in New York, including policymakers, housing advocates, and regular New Yorkers, to ensure that home sharing continues to benefit New York, and that it is done safely and responsibly.

More than 26 million people have now stayed in an Airbnb listing around the world. We know that when a person simply rents out his or her own home — as about 87% percent of our hosts do in New York — the experiences are overwhelmingly positive and very few problems ever occur. Our hosts provide a truly local, personal experience for guests around the world.  Hosts welcome travelers to this city, educate them about their neighborhoods, and recommend places to eat and visit. Guests come to New York and get to stay in neighborhoods underserved by hotels. They come with families, and spend more time and money in more diverse neighborhoods throughout the city.

That also means they are more likely to visit small businesses in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Staten Island, and see unique parts of New York to which they might not otherwise have gone. In fact, a recent study we commissioned from HR&A Advisors found that Airbnb visits generated an estimated $768 million in economic activity across the City in a single year, with much of that occurring in the outer boroughs.

But just generating economic activity in New York isn’t enough. That’s why we continually work to create the best community of hosts we can, removing hosts who are not living up to the standards expected by the rest of our community or the standards of their surrounding neighborhoods. Last year, we removed more than 2,000 New York City listings because the hosts failed to provide a local and meaningful experience to their guests or a good experience for their neighborhoods. And we continue to focus on ensuring that our guests have a high-quality experience in cities and towns around the world.

Our hosts enjoy a $1 million guarantee in case of eligible damage to their property, and they now have access to a secondary liability insurance policy in case a guest suffers property damage or has an injury or accident in their home or building as well.  These are just part of a series of initiatives to help our hosts create the safest environment for travelers and for their neighbors as they possibly can.

Our hosts already receive 1099 tax forms to help them pay their income tax, and we have also said many times that we want to help our hosts and guests collect and remit their hotel taxes.  We estimate that we could begin collecting and remitting as much as $65 million in hotel taxes this year alone, if only the tax laws were changed to allow companies like ours to help collect taxes and send the money to the government. We believe there is a simple fix and we hope legislators in Albany take up that fix this year.

No one should be snapping up large numbers of housing units, kicking out long term tenants and turning apartments into illegal hotels, and we support laws that ban that activity and increase enforcement and penalties.  But that issue should be treated as entirely separate from the question of whether citizens of New York should be allowed by law to open up their own homes for a few days or a few weeks a year just to make ends meet or meet people from other cultures.  We think it is obvious that they should be allowed to do so, and even those who drafted the 2010 law banning illegal hotels agreed. Now it is time to work together towards a technical fix so regular New Yorkers are no longer swept up in a fight that has nothing to do with them.

The vast majority of  Airbnb hosts use the money they earn to pay the bills and stay in their homes. We look forward to working with all New Yorkers to make sure they can continue to do so while welcoming more travelers to our amazing city.

Working Together to Collect and Remit Taxes in San Jose, California

Last month, the San Jose City Council approved groundbreaking legislation allowing residents to share their homes. For several months, we have been working with city officials to finalize a voluntary agreement to collect and remit hotel taxes on behalf of our hosts and guests in San Jose.

Members of our San Jose community and City leaders have expressed interest in Airbnb collecting and remitting hotel taxes on behalf of our users. We are excited to announce that we will begin collecting and remitting these taxes in San Jose on February 1st. If you are a host in San Jose and you’d like to learn more about how this process will work, you can visit our Help Center.

In 2014, we began collecting tourist taxes from guests on behalf of our hosts in Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, California. On February 1st, this program will expand to include both San Jose (the 10th largest city in the United States) and Amsterdam. We look forward to continuing to learn new lessons through this type of collaboration with cities.

This agreement with San Jose is a great example of how we are partnering with policymakers around the world on rules that strengthen cities and their residents. We look forward to continuing these conversations to ensure that tax rules for home sharing are clear, fair, and easy to follow.

Update from Amsterdam

Earlier this year, I shared some exciting news from Amsterdam where the City gave final approval to a new policy that embraces home sharing. Today, I’m pleased to announce that we are strengthening our partnership with the City and that we will work together to promote responsible home sharing in Amsterdam and to simplify the payment of tourist tax for our hosts.

The details of this partnership, which is the first of its kind in Europe, can be found here.

This is good news for our hosts, who will benefit from a simplified tourist tax process and clearer information on what local laws and regulations may apply to them.

It is also a great example of how we are working together with policy makers across the world on progressive rules that strengthen cities and help local residents make a little extra money to afford living costs.

We are excited by the growing list of destinations that are embracing home sharing and the benefits it offers.

Major Step Forward for Home Sharing in San Jose, California

Today, California’s third most populous city joined the ranks of innovative cities around the world that embrace home sharing and the benefits it brings to communities.

Policymakers in San Jose’s Planning and Economic Development Departments spent months researching emerging trends in the peer-to-peer economy as well as efforts by other cities to modernize local regulations. Using this data-driven analysis, San Jose officials developed an ordinance reflecting their position as a cutting edge city in the heart of Silicon Valley – balancing new technologies and economic trends with sensible neighborhood-focused rules.

We applaud San Jose leaders for adopting a policy that clarifies existing codes and explicitly allows hosts to share their own homes. The result is a simple, seamless process for the City and its residents.

The home sharing community in San Jose is contributing to a new economy—a creative and sustainable economy that supports households, grows and diversifies tourism and expands economic opportunity. Most hosts in San Jose are simply sharing the home they live in, earning an average of $7,100 a year. This modest but significant amount of income helps many Airbnb hosts pay the bills and make ends meet.

Additionally, many hosts live outside the neighborhoods where traditional hotels are located.  This drives tourism dollars to local businesses that haven’t benefited from tourism in the past and puts money directly in the pockets of San Jose residents.

Acknowledging these local benefits, policymakers approved sensible legislation enabling hosts to share the extra space in their home when they are present year-round, and 180 days a year when they are not in their home. Importantly, the law focuses on keeping the new rules for home sharing clear and simple so that hosts can participate in the regulatory process.

We are also excited to share we are finalizing a voluntary agreement with the city to streamline the process around the collection and remittance of hotel taxes. Earlier this year we launched similar initiatives in San Francisco and Portland, and we look forward to working with San Jose as we expand this program. We will provide more details as this process moves forward.

San Jose’s legislation and process provides an instructive model for cities around the world as they develop balanced approaches to embracing innovation.

Airbnb and the Berlin housing market

English | German

Several months ago, I wrote about some new, confusing legislation governing housing in Berlin. After this legislation was passed, we asked renowned housing expert Daniel Hofmann from GEWOS to conduct research to determine whether home sharing was having a negative impact on the availability of housing in Berlin.

Today, the research is in and it found that Airbnb and home sharing has no significant impact on housing prices or the number of available of properties in Berlin. Here are some of the key findings:

Only 0.06% of housing units in Berlin are booked for more than 120 days a year through Airbnb.

90% of all Berlin Airbnb hosts offer only one property.

The typical Airbnb host in Berlin earns €2,520 a year and 41% say this income helps them stay in their homes and afford living expenses.

Hofmann concluded:

“The tiny fraction of homes listed on Airbnb is far too small to have any significant impact on the availability of housing in Berlin. The tense housing market is a complex problem that is being driven by migration and a lack of new homes being built – not people sharing their homes through Airbnb.”

This study further confirms what we have always known – Airbnb hosts are regular people who occasionally share the home in which they live to make a little extra income and help with living costs. Berliners who share their space on Airbnb aren’t removing apartments from the market — they are sharing the home in which they live and the city they love.

We know that our community has a positive impact on cities. We also care deeply about the affordability of housing and we’ve heard from countless Airbnb hosts who depend on home sharing to stay in their homes and pay their bills. We look forward to working with everyone in Berlin to make sure that home sharing continues to be part of the solution.


Airbnb und der Berliner Wohnungsmarkt

Vor einigen Monaten habe ich berichtet, dass das Berliner Zweckentfremdungsverbot-Gesetz einige Unklarheiten im Bezug auf die Kurzzeitvermietung und deren Auswirkungen auf den Berliner Wohnungsmarkt enthält. Deshalb haben wir den renommierten Wohnungsmarkt-Experten Daniel Hofmann von GEWOS beauftragt, zu untersuchen, ob das Teilen von Wohnraum negative Auswirkungen auf die Verfügbarkeit von Wohnraum in Berlin hat.

Die Analyse zeigt, dass Airbnb und die Airbnb-Gastgeber keinen signifikanten Einfluss auf den Mietspiegel oder die zur Verfügung stehenden Wohnungen in Berlin haben. Hier sind einige der wichtigsten Ergebnisse:

Nur 0,06% der Wohneinheiten in Berlin werden mehr als 120 Tage im Jahr durch Airbnb vermietet.

90% der Berliner Airbnb-Gastgeber bieten nur eine Wohnung an.

Der typische Berliner Airbnb-Gastgeber verdient 2.520 € im Jahr und 41% der Gastgeber sagen, dass sie das Einkommen benötigen, um ihren Lebensunterhalt zu sichern.

Dazu sagt Daniel Hofmann von GEWOS:

“Der geringe Prozentsatz der Berliner Wohnungen, die auf Airbnb inseriert sind, ist viel zu klein, um einen signifikanten Einfluss auf die Verfügbarkeit von Wohnraum in Berlin zu haben. Der angespannte Wohnungsmarkt ist ein komplexes Problem, das von hohem Zuzug und zu geringem Wohnungsneubau geprägt ist – nicht von Berlinern, die ihr Zuhause auf Airbnb anbieten.”

Die Studie bestätigt, was wir immer vermutet haben – Airbnb-Gastgeber sind normale Menschen, die gelegentlich ihre eigene Wohnung, in der sie leben, teilen, um sich etwas dazu zu verdienen und einen Teil der Lebenshaltungskosten zu decken. Berliner, die ihren eigenen Wohnraum über Airbnb teilen, entziehen dem Markt keine Wohnungen — sie teilen ihr Zuhause, in dem sie leben und die Stadt, die sie lieben.

Wir wissen, dass unsere Gastgeber-Community einen positiven Einfluss auf Städte hat. Uns liegt am Herzen, dass der Berliner Wohnungsmarkt bezahlbar bleibt und wir kennen unzählige Airbnb-Gastgeber, die sich darauf verlassen, ihre Wohnung zu teilen und ihre Rechnungen bezahlen können. Wir freuen uns darauf, mit den Berliner Entscheidern daran zu arbeiten, dass das Teilen von Wohnraum weiterhin möglich ist.

Positive Impacts of Home Sharing in Los Angeles

Today, we released a new study highlighting the Airbnb community’s positive economic, social, and environmental impacts in Los Angeles. Conducted in conjunction with Land Econ Group, the study found Airbnb generated $312 million in economic activity in Los Angeles in one year and supported 2,600 jobs.

Airbnb hosts in Los Angeles reflect the diverse community in the city, with almost half working in the arts, entertainment and recreation occupations. The study shows how home sharing is helping Angelenos pursue creative careers, stay in their homes, and share the city they love with visitors from around the world. A significant percentage of hosts earn below the median household income, and nearly three quarters of all Airbnb hosts use the money they earn to stay in their homes.

Bill Lee, the Senior Parter at Land Econ Group, adds: “Airbnb creates a significant positive economic impact in Los Angeles by dispersing guest spending across neighborhoods and households throughout the city. Many hosts are aspiring stars in the entertainment industry, and the additional income from Airbnb is what allows them to keep their LA dreams alive.”

Similar to other cities, the study also shows that the Airbnb community in Los Angeles promotes a more environmentally sustainable way of traveling and helps build community across the city through ongoing cultural exchange.

Highlights from the study include:

Economic Impacts

  • Home sharing helps many Los Angeles residents make ends meet. The typical Airbnb host in Los Angeles earns $660 per month renting their home occasionally. 71% percent of hosts say this income has helped them stay in their homes.

  • Two thirds of Airbnb hosts are non- traditionally employed, with 34% saying that income from hosting has allowed them to support themselves while freelancing and 28% saying that income has helped them start a new business.

  • There are Airbnb properties in more than 80 neighborhoods across Los Angeles. 84% of Airbnb guests want to “live like a local.”

 Environmental Impacts

  • By staying in Airbnb properties instead of traditional accommodation options, Airbnb guests to Los Angeles over a one year period resulted in an estimated energy savings equivalent to 1,270 homes, water reduction of 18 Olympic-sized swimming pools, and greenhouse gas emissions reduction of 2,190 cars.

Social Impacts

  • 42% of Airbnb guests visiting Los Angeles come from outside of the United States, and 21% of Airbnb guests do not speak English as their primary language. In the past year, this resulted in hosts engaging with 28,100 guests who spoke a different primary language than they do.

  • 62% of hosts say home sharing has positively affected the way they interact with their community.

LA is the creative capital of the world, and we look forward to continuing to work with leaders on innovative steps to make the city a better place to live and visit.

Independent Report Urges UK to Embrace Sharing

A couple of months ago, we reported that the UK government was ambitious to take a lead in the growing global sharing economy.

Today sees the publication of the independent review that was commissioned to examine the potential of the sharing economy, and the barriers to its growth. It makes a series of recommendations that would represent a step-change in the regulatory framework for sharing economy platforms, and the people that use them. We think it is one of the most wide-ranging and inclusive reports written on the sharing economy to date.

Among its recommendations are that:

“The Government should embrace the opportunities offered by the sharing economy, both to make its own operations more efficient, and to make better use of public resources.”

“Regulations must be examined to ensure they are still fit for purpose and meet people’s expectations – particularly for accommodation and online task-sharing platforms.”

“We need to support start-ups in the sharing economy – by encouraging experimentation and innovation – and sharing what works.”

In his foreword to the report, Business Minister Matthew Hancock said :

“The UK is embracing new, disruptive business models and challenger businesses that increase competition and offer new products and experiences for consumers. Where other countries and cities are closing down consumer choice, and limiting people’s freedom to make better use of their possessions, we are embracing it.”

The report also calls on companies in the sharing economy “to set benchmarks and standards of service in order that consumers know what they can expect when they use these services.”

We agree.

At Airbnb, we’ve worked hard to build a community based on trust and we’ve developed leading safety and security features, including the $1m (£640,000) host guarantee, a secure online payment structure, 24/7 customer support and a global trust and safety team. We are committed to ensuring that our approach to safety, quality and host information continues to set the benchmark.

We want to build on these tools and work with the UK government to ensure the sharing economy can continue to thrive. Leaders in the UK have already signalled their intent to craft new rules for home sharing and we are excited by the UK Government’s readiness to back innovators and this new economic engine. We look forward to working with them and our fellow members of the sharing economy on putting this intent into action.

Safety and Airbnb

Yesterday, Steven Spinola, the President of the  Real Estate Board of New York expressed concerns about safety in Airbnb listings. We understand those concerns. The safety of hosts, guests and landlords is our top priority.

Today, after years of work, we proudly announced Host Protection Insurance. Airbnb already provide hosts with guidelines on how to make their listing safer and how to be a responsible neighbor. We are proud to lead on this issue, and the Host Protection Insurance Program is another step we are taking to help protect communities across the country.

Since 2008, more than 25 million guests have had a safe, memorable and positive experience traveling on Airbnb. We know that accidents are rare, but they can happen and we want our hosts be protected. Here is how the program works. If a guest is injured in a listing or elsewhere on the building property during a stay, liability insurance provides coverage for claims by Airbnb hosts and, where applicable, their landlords.

The Host Protection Insurance program is currently targeted to go into effect in the United States starting January 15, 2015 and is designed to cover claims up to $1 million.

This program is just one of the many ways Airbnb is working to protect our hosts and their surrounding communities. We look forward to discussing these further with REBNY and others in the future. 

New Poll: Barcelona Supports Home Sharing

Earlier this week, I wrote about the Airbnb community in Barcelona and talked about how we help bring responsible, respectful travelers to one of Europe’s most amazing cities. Today, we’re highlighting new polling data that shows that Barcelona residents believe home sharing and technology companies make their city and their community a better place to live and work. According to a new representative opinion poll:

  • Overall, 81 percent of Barcelona residents feel that tourism has a mostly or completely positive impact on Barcelona. Nearly 90 percent believe tourism helps the economy and 60 percent believe tourism has a positive impact on the quality of life.

  • 61 percent believe it should be legal for people to rent our houses, apartments or rooms to visitors on a short-term basis – for example, by sharing their home on Airbnb. 74 percent believe this activity can help regular people pay their bills.

  • 70 percent of Barcelona residents hold a favourable view of tech companies, while less than one in ten say they have an unfavourable view.

The citywide survey was conducted by David Binder Research from October 14th to 22nd, 2014 with a representative sample of 600 Barcelona voters. All respondents are residents of Barcelona. The margin of error is 4.1% citywide. Respondents were given the choice of whether to complete the survey in Spanish or in Catalan.

The survey confirms what we hear from Barcelona residents every day. They’ve seen how home sharing can help travelers skip the tourist traps and see the real Barcelona and they know that home sharing can help regular people pay their bills and stay in the home and the neighborhood they love. Our previous economic impact study found that Airbnb hosts spend 60 percent of their Airbnb income on important household expenses. 53 percent of Airbnb hosts say their Airbnb income has helped them stay in their homes. We strongly believe we can all work together to support home sharers and ensure the sharing economy continues to thrive.

We’re encouraged to see the government taking steps to develop new rules for the sharing economy and we look forward to working with everyone on clear, fair rules that make Barcelona an even better place to live, work and visit.