Hello, RIDErs and everyone else from far and wide! THE RIDE is here to give you the rundown on this whole AirBnB thing. For those of you that don’t pick up a copy of every tabloid magazine while checking out at the grocery store, there is a lot of controversy going on about something called AirBnB. You may ask, “Hey THE RIDE, what is AirBnB?” According to the company itself, AirBnB is:
“…a community marketplace where guests can book spaces from hosts, connecting people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay. Through their experiences on AirBnB, guests and hosts build real connections with real people from all over the globe. We specifically created a secure payment system to ensure that money is fully collected and safe. Once a reservation is completed, both guest and host can review each other to build a reputation in the community.”
Basically, if you want to travel and don’t want to spring for expensive hotels you can rent a room in someone’s home and stay with them. It’s a futuristic idea with both capitalist and groovy values running through it. I have to say, it seems pretty cool. For instance you can spend upwards of $500 per night to stay in a room with a queen size bed in Times Square. If you go with AirBnB, you might pay closer to $200 with fees. The problem is that many people who are not legally allowed to sublet their apartments or homes are using AirBnB anyway.
One study, that critics of this program and others like it love to quote, states 75% of AirBnB listings are illegal. This is due to zoning regulations and other laws that if read aloud could put a kid holding a puppy and drinking a Redbull to sleep. The New York Post claims, “The city is waging war on AirBnB.” This may be true, as some folks have had their homes raided for using the service. This is all part of the bigger debate about “sharing economy,” a principal Uber supporters and other startups have embraced. Some say it’s a way to empower individuals, others say it’s a way to avoid taxes and regulations. I say relax, and go for a RIDE!