I saw the legal process of this play out in my community of 42,000 people. A quick search on Airbnb reveals about 9 Airbnb hosts with about 17 listings btwn us. One of those listings happens to be a register B&B home establishment. We also have one 250+ room hotel that does not use Airbnb for its online booking platform - it’s Great Wolf Lodge, it has it’s own. We all do the exact same thing: STRs.
There are well-established existing STR rental laws in every US state, and it’s up to individual cities and towns to interpret and enforce those laws. I actually wish Airbnb compelled STR hosts to follow state and local law, rather than flagrantly avoid telling hosts their responsibility as STRs.
Strictly speaking, Airbnb is not a STR company. It is a platform on which STRs are listed and booked. However, their name has become synonymous with “STR” much like Kleenex and Xerox, although Kleenex and Xerox actually manufacture the products that are named after them. Airbnb is just an online booking platform. I applaud their effort to compel wayward hosts to follow state and local occupancy law.
Honestly, I wish there was a better mechanism to alert authorities about multi-unit listings that clearly violate building, fire, occupancy, and safety code and registration. There has not been an outright crackdown on the dozen or so listings in my city. It was the only B&B in town that filed a petition to effectively ban all other forms of STR in our city to eliminate any competition. The city has taken a light-handed approach to those listings with 1 guestroom, and progressively more oversight for listings with 2 or 3 units. Four or more units triggers a whole host of zoning requirements, and nuanced distinctions btwn owner-occupied and un-owner-occupied listings of all sizes.
I like to think if I hadn’t come forward and spoke to officials about the benefits of travelers in our city, I suspect the regulations would have been interpreted much more strictly. There’s a huge misconception as to why anyone would stay in our city. Many people have been surprised I have been so successful, and I think I opened a few minds to possibly that offering short-term accommodations to visits can do for our local economy, or least people who live and work here who have visitors.
But, the 7-unit listing across town needs to go.