Great News from Australia: Airbnb Partners with Victorian Government to Prepare for Emergencies

In March of this year we announced new initiatives with the goal of helping civic leaders and our community create more shareable, livable cities through relevant, concrete actions and partnerships.

We are thrilled to share that we will be working with the State of Victoria, Australia to help make this community stronger and more resilient. As a first step in our work together, Airbnb will partner with Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) to prepare our community of hosts in Victoria to provide free accommodation in the event of a significant emergency.

Airbnb will also work with Emergency Management Victoria before, during, and after disasters to help more residents during an emergency. Specifically, Airbnb and Emergency Management Victoria will work together to:

  • Identify Airbnb hosts who will commit to opening their doors to displaced persons and emergency services workers and volunteers when an emergency occurs and accommodation options are required or limited.
  • Provide emergency preparedness educational materials and facilitate access to community education programs for Airbnb hosts to ensure that they are well prepared within their communities.
  • Use Airbnb technology to notify hosts and guests about significant emergencies and that the Airbnb Disaster Response Service is available.

Building upon our work in other cities, this new partnership will help our community collaborate with regional disaster relief organizations in advance of an event, reach a broader audience and help more people during an emergency.

We are also working with the Victorian Government to explore opportunities to support Victorian entrepreneurial communities, so that more residents of Victoria can benefit from the sharing economy.

For more details, check out the press release here.

Historic Day For Home Sharing in San Francisco

This morning was a great one for our community and for the entire sharing economy, as San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee signed into law legislation that makes it fair to share in San Francisco. The new law in San Francisco is a great victory for everyone who wants to share their home and the city they love.

At the signing ceremony, Mayor Lee met with a number of home sharers and listened to their experiences as San Franciscans.

Today’s signing ceremony was the final step of a long process. The bill that was signed into law today represents the culmination of years of proposals, discussions, negotiations, hearings and votes by the Board of Supervisors.  Every interest group was heard from, every issue was raised. Legislative discussions rarely result in perfect solutions, but this is a stronger bill than it was when it started.

And the fundamental nature of the new law – one that legalizes home sharing for the vast majority of our San Francisco hosts, those who simply rent out their own home on an occasional basis – is a huge step forward in San Francisco and echoes what we have seen around the world.

As more and more people learn more about Airbnb, home sharing and the sharing economy, they are seeing how our community make cities better places to live, work and visit. Home sharing is here to stay, and policymakers are looking at old rules — some of which were drafted before the internet even existed — and enacting some commonsense regulations for home sharing.

Every city is different, so there’s no one size fits all policy, but we’re incredibly encouraged by the progress we’re seeing around the world. Here are just a few examples:

  • Portland: The City Council unanimously approved sensible legislation making it easier for many Portlanders to share their homes.

  • 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.

  • France: In March, the President of France signed into law “Bill ALUR”—new national housing legislation. The law clarifies that wherever you live in France, you can rent out the home in which you live.

  • London: The government announced that they’ll be reviewing a key section of that 40-year-old law—the Greater London Powers Act—that governs home-sharing in London. Housing Minister Kris Hopkins that some portions of the law are “outdated and unworkable” and we are pleased to see the Minister working towards a “fairer, more flexible private rented sector.”

  • Amsterdam: The Amsterdam City Council gave final approval earlier this year to a new policy that embraces home sharing and makes Amsterdam a pioneer in the global sharing economy. The policy makes it easy for local residents to share the home in which they live, while simultaneously cracking down on illegal hotels that abuse the system.

  • Hamburg: Under a law enacted by the City of Hamburg, it is entirely legal to use Airbnb to rent out a private room or to occasionally rent out your primary residence, and you do not need to take any action or apply for a license from the government.

The lesson from these examples is simple: when we all work together, we can come up with some sensible rules of the road. We’re meeting with more leaders and community members in cities around the world and we’re confident that as they learn more about the sharing economy, they too will draft and pass policies that protect the public interest and ensure the sharing economy continues to thrive.

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.