Working Together in Victoria, British Columbia

On this blog, I regularly write about communities around the world that are embracing home sharing and the benefits it brings to cities.

This week, I wanted to share good news from the City of Victoria, British Columbia, where local leaders said they plan to work together with Airbnb to develop innovative policies around home sharing.

Acknowledging the economic and social benefits of this activity, City leaders outlined steps to revise and streamline policies around short-term rentals and harness these benefits. Stating that “Models like Airbnb appear to be here to stay,” the City identified areas where we can work together moving forward, including:

1. Looking to adapt and evolve as and where necessary the wording of our relevant zoning and bylaws [to] cover the needs of those home owners providing their homes for short term rentals through sites such as Airbnb

2. Working to ensure a more even playing field for short term accommodations by evolving towards a fair taxation approach

3. Working to ensure that Airbnb listings are available for emergency accommodations if required in the event of a disaster

4. Shared promotion of the city and neighbourhoods and local businesses as a leading tourist destination.

We are excited to work together with local leaders in Victoria to create more shareable, more livable neighborhoods through relevant, concrete actions and partnerships and we look forward to building on these experiences with more cities around the world.

Statement from Airbnb on legislation in San Francisco

Airbnb issued the following statement today after the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved home sharing legislation:

“We want to thank the members of the Board of Supervisors and the countless San Franciscans who participated in this process. This balanced and sensible legislation will help San Franciscans share their home and the city they love and earn a little extra money to pay the bills. We look forward to working with everyone to make this city an even better place to visit and call home.”

Moving forward in Barcelona

Earlier this month, Catalonian Minister for Enterprise Felip Puig announced that “the sharing economy has arrived to stay,” and launched the Government of Catalonia’s new effort to study the sharing economy and develop new rules for home sharing. This is great news for Catalans who want to share their home and we hope this new process will ensure Barcelona and Catalonia stay on the cutting edge of innovation.

People in Barcelona are sharing the home in which they live with visitors from around the world, earning a little extra money and giving visitors a chance to see the real Barcelona. According to our analysis:

  • 77 percent of Airbnb hosts in Catalonia have only one listing and 53 percent say hosting helped them stay in their homes.

  • The average Airbnb guest in Catalonia is 40 years old and 85 percent of Airbnb guests have at least a college degree.

Now, we need fair rules for sharing and our entire community looks forward to participating in this discussion. We know home sharing promotes sustainable tourism and we want to work with everyone in Catalonia on clear rules that work for these amazing communities.

We hope this process will ensure that Catalonia remains a community that welcomes and supports new innovations and new technologies. According to our own economic analysis, Airbnb generated 128 million euros for Barcelona’s economy in one year alone. The wider sharing economy could generate even more benefit for Catalonia: recent research suggests that the impact in the United Kingdom could be as much as 11 billion Euros by 2025, and there’s no reason why the rest of Europe should be any different. Fair rules for sharing will help seize on these incredible economic opportunities and make Catalonia an even better place to live, work and visit.

Report on New York and Airbnb

On Thursday, the New York Attorney General’s Office released a report regarding Airbnb and New York. We’re proud that Airbnb has helped countless families pay their bills and stay in their homes. Now, we need to move forward. We should not deny thousands of New Yorkers the chance to share their homes, pay their bills and stay in the city they love. We need to work together on some sensible rules that stop bad actors and protect regular people who simply want to share the home in which they live. We look forward to working with everyone in New York in the weeks ahead.

The report’s conclusions rely on incomplete and outdated information. For example, the findings do not account for the more than 2,000 listings we have already removed from our community in New York. Additionally, every single home, apartment, co-op and living space in New York is subject to a myriad of rules, so it’s impossible to make this kind of blanket statement about listings. That kind of uncertainty and lack of clarity is exactly why we’re advocating for clear, fair rules for home sharing.

Statement on Legislation in San Francisco

The legislation that moved forward tonight will give regular people the right to share the home in which they live and make it fair to share in San Francisco. This vote was a great victory for San Franciscans who want to share their home and the city they love. We look forward to working with everyone as we move forward.

Thousands of San Franciscans Call on Leaders to Make it Fair to Share

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Today, supporters of home sharing presented over 4,000 petitions signed by San Franciscans who believe residents should be free to share the home in which they live.

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of San Franciscans have shared their stories at City Hall urging legislators to pass fair, progressive rules for home sharing.

At today’s Land Use Committee Hearing, supporters of home sharing turned out again. During the hearing, eleven home sharers presented petitions signed by residents of their respective districts urging the Committee to move forward with legislation that makes it fair to share.

At the hearing, the Land Use Committee recommended that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors adopt home sharing legislation. This is an important step forward for everyone who supports home sharing but there is still work to be done to strengthen this legislation and we are eager to work with everyone as we move ahead.

You can check out the full text of the petitions signed by thousands of San Franciscans on the Fair to Share San Francisco website.

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David Owen is Regional Head of Public Policy at Airbnb

 

UK Ready to Embrace the “Airbnb Economy”

This morning, the United Kingdom announced an ambitious plan to embrace the sharing economy and communities like Airbnb. In a Telegraph article headlined “Government poised to embrace the Airbnb economy” Business and Enterprise Minister Matt Hancock described the new review and told the Telegraph “these new business models put money into households the length and breadth of the country.”

We’ve seen how Airbnb makes neighborhoods better places to live, work and visit and we’re excited about this new step forward.  The government’s review is designed to “assess the opportunity for the sharing economy to create a nation of micro-entrepreneurs and radically transform the way we use our assets and resources.” This review builds on great progress we’ve seen in the UK. Earlier this year, the government announced that they are reviewing a key section of that 40-year-old law—the Greater London Powers Act—that governs home sharing in London.

We look forward to continuing to work with the government to discuss how Airbnb makes the UK better for travellers and locals alike. According to our analysis, the Airbnb community contributed $815m to the economy in the UK in one year alone and we know there is room for the sharing economy to grow in the UK and around the world.

The news from London is also consistent with what we are seeing and hearing from leaders everywhere. More and more governments are embracing home sharing and we are excited to work with policy makers on sensible rules that protect the public interest, help regular people share their homes and ensure the sharing economy continues to thrive.

 

Collecting and Remitting Taxes in San Francisco

Today I want to share the news that Airbnb is planning to launch a program to collect occupancy taxes on behalf of our hosts in San Francisco beginning October 1. We’ve already launched this program in Portland, Oregon and are excited to be moving ahead in our hometown.

This is the culmination of a long process that began earlier this year when we announced our intent to help collect and remit occupancy taxes in San Francisco. Our community members in San Francisco have told us they want to pay their fair share and the overwhelming majority have asked us to help. In the past, it’s been difficult for individual hosts to pay taxes that were designed for traditional hotels that operate year round. This has been a complicated issue and we’re happy to be taking action to help simplify the collection process for hosts, guests and for the City.

Here’s what this announcement means for hosts and guests in San Francisco:

For reservations in San Francisco booked on or after October 1, guests will see a new line item on their Airbnb receipt for the city-imposed Transient Occupancy Tax. The tax will be added to the total amount paid by guests on stays of fewer than 30 days – hosts will not have to do anything extra. Those taxes will be remitted to the City by Airbnb on behalf of hosts. If you’d like to learn more about occupancy taxes and Airbnb, please visit our Help Center.

By helping to collect and remit occupancy taxes on behalf of our hosts and guests, the process should be easier and more streamlined for everyone. We’re not the only home sharing company operating in San Francisco, and we hope other companies will join us in implementing similar programs. We think it’s the right thing to do in San Francisco and we’re proud to be moving forward.  We look forward to a continued dialogue on this issue with our entire community in the future. We know home sharing and our community of hosts make cities stronger and more vibrant and we want to work with leaders around the world to ensure the sharing economy continues to thrive.

Hotels vs. Regular New Yorkers

Today, some in the hotel industry are launching a campaign to try and stop home sharing in New York. We’ve had productive conversations with many hotel leaders who understand that Airbnb makes New York stronger for all of us and makes it possible for more people to travel. And we’re eager to have even more conversations with everyone in the hospitality industry about ways we can all work together to promote travel in New York and around the world.

But today, media reports indicate that some misinformed hotels are willing to spend millions of dollars because they don’t think regular New Yorkers should be able to share the home in which they live.

Before you hear what the hotel industry’s campaign has to say, check out the facts about Airbnb:

  • Airbnb makes New York more affordable for more New Yorkers and makes the economy stronger. According to a study conducted by an well-respected advisory firm, 62 percent of Airbnb hosts in New York say hosting has helped them stay in their homes in the city they love.
  • Airbnb hosts earn a modest, but significant amount of money that can make a real difference for hard working families. The typical host earns $7,530 per year by sharing some extra space or the home they live in when they are out of town for a few days.
  • Airbnb is good for the economy in New York. All told, the Airbnb community will generate an estimated $768 million in economic activity in New York in 2014 and support 6,600 jobs. Travelers will have the chance to stay in unique spaces and visit small businesses in all five boroughs, and the Airbnb community will pay more than $36 million in sales taxes.

Some opponents of sharing have begun to claim that home sharing has an adverse effect on affordable housing in New York. This is an important issue and these claims are misleading and inaccurate. Here are the facts:

  • There are more than 3 million households in New York City and approximately 25,000 Airbnb listings, far too few to have an effect on housing prices.
  • This is especially true because the overwhelming majority of Airbnb hosts occasionally share only the home in which they live. 87 percent of Airbnb hosts share the home in which they live. The average host shares his or her space four nights a month. These hosts aren’t taking housing off the market, they are sharing the home in which they live once in awhile. Additionally, sharing their space is often the only way they can afford to stay in their home.
  • Experts like U.C. Berkeley professor Ken Rosen agree that Airbnb and short-term rentals aren’t driving up rents or having an impact on the rental housing market. Professor Rosen also noted that long term rentals can be easier and more profitable for landlords because short term rentals aren’t always occupied and come with other costs.

We strongly oppose illegal hotels, and we are a company founded on the belief that housing should be more accessible, more affordable, and more available.  We have worked to remove people from Airbnb that were having an adverse effect on travelers and the New York community. Earlier this year, we examined our community in New York and found that some property managers were abusing our site with multiple listings and weren’t providing a quality, local experience to guests. These hosts weren’t making their neighborhood stronger and they weren’t delivering the kind of hospitality our guests expect and deserve. We took action and removed these hosts and their more than 2,000 listings from the Airbnb community.

Airbnb was founded by regular people just trying to pay the rent by opening up their own home for a few days, so it is no coincidence that the vast majority of our hosts are doing just that. Airbnb allows long time residents to stay in their homes by earning just a little extra money to help make ends meet.

Some in the hotel industry will do everything they can to stop the sharing economy, but we look forward to working with leaders in New York on sensible legislation that cracks down on illegal hotels and ensures regular New Yorkers can share the home in which they live.

New Quinnipiac Poll: New Yorkers Back Home Sharing

Today, a new independent poll confirms that New Yorkers support home sharing.

The city-wide poll from Quinnipiac University asked “Do you think New York City residents should be permitted to rent rooms in their homes for a few days at a time to strangers, similar to a hotel, or should this practice be banned?”

Here are the results:

          Permitted to rent: 56%

          Ban practice: 36%

 You can learn more about the poll results and methodology here.

This poll confirms what we’ve known for some time: the majority of New Yorkers support home sharing and believe they should be able to share the home in which they live. We’re proud that the Airbnb platform helps New Yorkers share their space with responsible travelers from around the world. We look forward to continuing to educate even more people about the Airbnb community in New York and how Airbnb hosts and guests make this amazing city an even better place to live, work, and visit.