It’s Fair to Share in the Music City!

Earlier this evening, the Nashville Metro City Council enacted clear, fair rules that make it easier for people to share their homes and their city with travelers from around the world. In enacting these new rules of the road, Music City joins the ranks of innovative cities across the world who are embracing the positive impacts of home sharing for neighborhoods and local businesses.

Tonight’s vote comes after months of discussion between policy makers, stakeholders, and the Nashville community – including Airbnb hosts. The new measure clarifies the law to authorize short-term rentals in Nashville, making it possible for hosts to share their home when they’re present and when they’re not. The law also creates a set of simple rules designed to help ensure that guests are safe, community concerns are addressed, and it recognizes the benefits that home sharing brings to the local community.

These new regulations will also help local hosts pay their bills and make ends meet, while providing more unique options for travelers to Nashville. Airbnb guests spend more time and money in the cities they visit than the typical hotel guest, while broadening the impact of tourism to more neighborhoods and small businesses. Nashville joins a quickly growing list of places like Amsterdam, Hamburg, San Francisco, France, and San Jose at the forefront of embracing progressive rules for home sharing.

The world is embracing the incredible benefits the sharing economy provides in empowering individuals and strengthening communities.  As more cities like Nashville choose to embrace the sharing economy, more cities will benefit from the social, financial and other impacts we know our community brings.

We look forward to continued progress in Nashville and other cities around the world to ensure the sharing economy continues to thrive.

Update from Singapore

We’ve had a lot of good news to share over the last few months. More and more destinations across the world are joining the likes of San Francisco, Amsterdam, Portland and France to implement progressive rules that support home sharing. These cities and countless others know that home sharing helps local residents stay in their homes and pay their bills while giving travelers new ways to explore neighborhoods and local businesses.

The latest update comes from Singapore, where the government is now seeking comment from the public on local rules for home sharing. We welcome this announcement and are excited that our community will have the opportunity to submit their views on how home sharing is improving the way they live, work and travel. Our community can comment here.

Home sharing is not a new phenomenon – it has been going on for thousands of years – but the internet and new technology have now made it easier for regular people to make a little extra income by occasionally sharing a spare room in their home or their entire place when they are out of town. Our hosts regularly tell us that this additional income helps them to stay in their homes and pay bills. Countless hosts also depend on home sharing to support them after they have retired.

We know that when a person simply shares the home in which they live – as most of our hosts across the world do – the experiences are overwhelmingly positive. The visitors they welcome are respectful of their surroundings and want to live like locals. They eat in local restaurants, coffee shops and hawker centers, support local businesses and explore communities that are away from the usual tourist hotspots. This is spreading the positive economic impact of tourism to communities that haven’t previously benefited from tourism.

Home sharing is also offering innovative solutions to some of the pressing challenges facing Singapore today, such as helping local residents to unlock value in their homes during retirement without them having to leave their homes or give up ownership. Airbnb hosts have also played an important role in helping destinations accommodate guests for thousands of big events worldwide, like the London Olympics, the World Cup in Brazil and the 2008 Democratic National convention. They would do so again during Formula 1 and big events like CommunicAsia and the Singapore Airshow.

We have seen how home sharing is having a positive impact on cities, and we are having great conversations with policy makers across the world. We are grateful for the opportunity for our hosts to tell their stories in Singapore, and look forward to working with the government on progressive rules that embrace innovation and sharing.

Working Together to Collect and Remit in Washington D.C. and Chicago, Illinois

One of the issues we have been working hard on here at Airbnb is the question of how we can best help our community understand — and in many cases help them pay — the kinds of taxes that might apply to renting out one’s own home. We have long provided income tax forms in the United States, for instance.

Over the last year, we have increasingly turned to helping hosts and guests pay tourism taxes as well. Sometimes called “hotel tax” or “transient occupancy tax,” it isn’t always clear which taxes apply and to whom in our community. But as we learn more, we want to help more.

Airbnb first began collecting tourist taxes from guests on behalf of our hosts in Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, California. So far, we’ve collected and sent more than $5 million to these governments. Since then we have worked to implement similar arrangements and will tomorrow begin collecting and remitting tourist taxes in Amsterdam and in San Jose, California. We are also continuing our productive discussions on a similar initiative in France.

This week, we wanted to share that on February 15, we will also begin collecting and remitting these taxes in Washington D.C. and Chicago, Illinois. If you’d like to learn more about how this process will work in those or other cities, please visit our Help Center.

We know that our community has already contributed substantial positive economic benefits in each of these communities, and this is just one more step in helping our hosts make their neighborhoods stronger.

This is a complicated challenge, but we want to continue working with officials around the globe to ensure that tax rules for home sharing are clear, fair, and easy to follow. We look forward to a continued dialogue on this issue with leaders around the world to ensure the sharing economy continues to thrive.

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.

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.

Working Together on New Proposals in Chicago

Earlier this year, we began collecting tourist taxes from guests on behalf of our hosts in Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, California.

This week, we wanted to share that we are also working together to collect and remit these taxes in Chicago, Illinois. Over the past few months, we have been meeting with city and state policymakers to discuss this program. On Monday, the Chicago City Council Finance Committee approved an ordinance to make it possible for home sharing platforms to collect and remit taxes on behalf of hosts and guests in the city. The ordinance will move to the full Chicago City Council later this month and we look forward to supporting this proposal and continuing to work together with local leaders in the months ahead.

We know our community already has contributed substantial positive economic benefits in Chicago, and this is another way to continue to make the city even stronger.

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.

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.

New York Update

I want to provide you the latest update on the New York Attorney General’s investigation into our community here in New York.

As you remember, the New York Attorney General originally requested a full set of data on most of our hosts in New York, and we were concerned that this request was too broad.  After some legal wrangling, we agreed to provide the Attorney General anonymized data about approximately 16,000 hosts in New York. This data did not include names, apartment numbers, or other personally-identifiable information, and was designed to present the Attorney General with a full picture of who our community is, and how it operates in New York. Under the agreement, the Attorney General’s Office has one year to review the anonymized data and receive information from us about individual hosts who may be subject to further investigation. You can read more about this agreement here.

Before we reached this agreement, we reviewed our community in New York and removed some bad actors who were providing a low-quality experience or failing to live up to the standards we set for our community.

After we reached this agreement and as this process continued, we became increasingly confident that the Attorney General was truly concerned about a relatively small number of hosts he considered to be “bad actors,” and that the vast majority of our community was never a target of his inquiries.  As a result, we came to expect that we would start receiving requests for individual data at a relatively modest level.

This week, that confidence was reinforced as the Attorney General requested unredacted, personal information on 124 individual past and present hosts.  The vast majority of these hosts were no longer on our site. The remainder of records requested are all for hosts with multiple listings, and without knowing more about why the Attorney General is interested in those hosts specifically, it is hard to know why they have been targeted.

But two things are clear.

First, this request represents an incredibly small fraction of our New York hosting community – far less than 1 percent. The vast majority of our hosts are simply renting out their own homes on an occasional basis.  The law was never meant to target them, and we now believe the Attorney General did not mean to target regular New Yorkers either.

Second, while the Attorney General’s Office may request additional information in the coming months, nothing about these hosting profiles suggests he is after anyone but individuals who may be flagrantly misusing our platform.

We have notified each of the 124 hosts subject to this request individually, so if you have not heard from us this week, your information was not requested. As this process progresses, we will continue to strive to be as transparent as possible. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.