MONEY Travel

How to Negotiate a Killer Deal on Your Summer Vacation Rental

summer vacation cottages
William Britten—Getty Images

Because everything's negotiable.

Are you considering bypassing the hotel or resort experience for your summer vacation and opting for a summer home rental instead? Home rental networks are on the rise and have never been easier to use, thanks to the increased web presence and sites like VacationHomeRentals.com, Airbnb, VRBO, and VacationRentals.com.

However, just because travel agents and middlemen are being squeezed out does not mean that you are getting the best deal possible. You can negotiate with a vacation rental owner to receive an even better deal by following these steps:

  • Outline Your Goals – Know what you are negotiating for, and what you are willing to give up in return, if anything. Are you willing to stay longer or at different times for an improved nightly rate? Are certain amenities important to you? Can you handle a larger up-front deposit for a rate discount? Have all of your negotiating points and strategy planned out in advance, and you will know when you should walk away from a deal.
  • Do Your Homework – Research your rental options in the area, and make a list of your preferred choices. Get the best understanding you can of the booking market during your preferred time — is it peak season, are there festivals or events drawing unusual crowds, or are there other hurdles to occupancy? Keep your vacation times flexible if possible. If you can offer a stay that is complementary to the rental’s typical business, you have tremendous leverage. Do not be afraid to use that leverage, but do not lead with it. Give the rental owner the impression that you are doing them a favor by altering your plans.
  • Be Courteous – Nobody likes doing business with an obnoxious negotiator. Say that the offering does not exactly fit your time and budget needs, and you were wondering if a certain counteroffer could be met. Keep your counteroffers reasonable, and do not mention that you have other options. Rental owners already know that, and they do not like to be reminded of it.
  • Book Early or Book Late – As strange as it may sound, you can have leverage on both ends of the timeline. Booking early can give you the best combination of price and selection. However, if you are willing to gamble on availability, last-minute deals can be found for most destinations. They may not be in the exact location you want or have all the amenities you want, but the savings are significant. Check the rental sites for last-minute offers — one example is VacationHomeRentals.com, but there are others available. However, if you go this route, be prepared to find a hotel if you have to, and realize when it is too late to do anything based on an area you are visiting (part of your “homework” above).
  • Sell Yourself as an “Easy” Customer – Rental owners love “easy” customers who simply enjoy their time, are respectful of their rental property, throw no parties, and cause no problems. If you fit into that category, find subtle ways to let them know that you are low maintenance.

On the other hand, if your family really does not fit that mold, don’t misrepresent yourself. Rowdy kids or uncontrolled pets will earn you a reputation you do not want for future rentals. Find a rental that is a bit more tolerant, and be prepared to pay extra.
Congratulations! You have successfully negotiated a great deal for your vacation rental. Now it is up to you to follow through.

Be a good and respectful guest, follow all the house rules, and leave everything in the same condition you found it in, if not better. If you had an excellent experience, do not forget to refer others to the rental — and let your host know that you will be referring them to others. You may receive a similarly good deal, or even a better one, the next time you stay there.

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TIME housing

Report Finds Airbnb May Contribute to San Francisco’s Housing Woes

San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge
Getty Images

Fights over privacy and business continue to plague the popular home-sharing platform in the City by the Bay

A report released on Thursday found that about 15% of San Francisco’s vacant housing may have been removed from the market so it could be rented out on sharing economy platform Airbnb. This comes at a time when the company is waging legal battles in several cities—and when renting out one’s home for less than 30 days has just been banned in Santa Monica, Calif.

San Francisco Board Supervisor David Campos held a news conference Thursday, asserting that the report proves Airbnb is a “significant contributor to the housing shortage” that is pushing low- and middle-income families out of the city. While no one denies that the City by the Bay is in the midst of a housing crisis, the company and at least one economist believe that the report and that politician overstate the role that Airbnb plays.

The study was conducted by the city’s independent budget and legislative analyst’s office, at the progressive lawmaker’s request. Campos has proposed legislation that would change a new law that legalized short-term rentals in San Francisco. Residents at the moment are allowed to host Airbnb guests in their units for unlimited days per year and to rent them out 90 days per year when they’re not present. Campos’ proposal would limit all rentals, hosted or un-hosted, to 90 days per year.

“The Mission is a community in crisis,” Campos said of the neighborhood that has become ground zero for working-class activists protesting gentrification fueled by booming tech companies. “This practice is exacerbating an already terrible situation.”

Airbnb countered, as local loyalists have in city council hearings, that those struggling to make ends meet can benefit from the added income that sharing a home affords. “Home sharing is an economic lifeline for thousands of San Franciscans who depend on the extra income to stay in their homes,” Airbnb spokesperson Christopher Nulty said in a statement, responding to the report. “Supervisor Campos’ proposal would make it even harder for middle class families to stay in San Francisco and pay the bills.”

The report’s author admits that the attempts to quantify Airbnb’s impact are a best guess, relying on webscrapes and assumptions about residents’ behavior. Airbnb continues to guard data about their users and financial situation that would allow for more precision. Though the company is submitting monthly anonymized data to the city to prove that hosts are remitting hotel taxes, officials have said they need more data in order to effectively enforce limits on rentals.

“I think the bigger picture questions to focus on are: How can cities pass effective legislation in the absence of accurate data about Airbnb?” Karen Chapple, professor of city and regional planning at the University of California—Berkeley, writes in an email. “Would it not be in Airbnb’s interest to share its data openly and collaborate with cities in designing and implementing fair laws?”

Arun Sundararajan, an economist who reviewed the report, believes that Airbnb and its data are something of a red herring. While the site may lead to some units being taken off the market and to disturbances among neighbors who don’t like sharing their buildings with tourists, he says the housing options provided by Airbnb are likely drawing more tourists—and more revenue—to the city. The responsibility of Airbnb in yielding the current lack of housing in the city is “sort of like a rounding error when you compare it to the population growth in San Francisco and the number of units that are rent-controlled.”

As Airbnb stands firm on protecting users’ data and refusing to fork over the names and addresses for every booking, Nulty points out that these short-term rentals are contributing around $469 million in revenue to the local economy and that more than 80% of users in San Francisco share only the home in which they live.

“Any sort of creative disruption tends to have winners and losers,” Sundararajan says. “I just don’t see a scenario in this case where the losses are going to outweigh the wins.”

MONEY Taxes

How the Sharing Economy Makes Tax Filing Tougher

Lyft driver
Lyft Being a Lyft driver may not feel too fun at tax time.

When you make money working for a business like Uber, Task Rabbit, or Airbnb, doing your taxes can a pain.

Before Jane LeBoeuf started driving for Uber and Lyft, doing her taxes was cheap and easy.

LeBoeuf would swing by the local H&R Block office, pay $150 and end up with a refund. But now, that is not the case.

The 32-year-old from Providence, R.I. paid $470 this year to a professional tax preparer, and her refund got eaten up by the taxes on her side gig income.

As it is with so many other millennials—whether they are driving for a car service, renting property through Airbnb.com, or picking up jobs through TaskRabbit.com—LeBoeuf needed help sorting out the complexities of freelance income that comes with a host of possible deductions.

“There are a lot of people out there who are starting to realize they don’t have it all together,” says Robert Wheeler, who runs an accounting firm in Santa Monica, Calif. “Things are just getting more complicated. People don’t know what to do.”

Accountants point out that one of the biggest problems they see with those earning a sharing-economy income is a lack of record-keeping.

Freelancers like LeBoeuf agree: “I just find it to be too much for me on a daily basis,” she says.

Sometimes all it takes is asking for record-keeping help during the first year. But others need constant attention. Here are some tips on how to get started:

1. Get the right help

Some accountants are starting to specialize in sharing economy tax strategies, like Derek Davis, 28, who is based in Culver City, Calif.

Davis says he had his eureka moment after a ride home from work one night with an Uber driver who had no idea what expenses he was allowed to deduct, like repairs and gas.

Otherwise, tax preparers who specialize in freelance or small businesses would know their way around a Schedule C, which is where freelancers report income.

Since just about anyone can hang out a shingle that says they do taxes, consider looking for a preparer with certified credentials, which you can find by searching the databases of the National Association of Tax Professionals or the National Association of Enrolled Agents.

2. Develop a record-keeping system

Independent contractors are responsible for recording all their income—not just what is sent to them on a Form 1099. Equally, they are responsible for tracking their own expenses. But this can get very complicated for those tracking mileage—when you can count more than just the actual Uber trips you drive, for instance.

And it can be dizzying for those renting out spaces in their homes. For starters, those renting for fewer than 14 days get a break—they do not owe taxes on the income. Go past that, however, and you can deduct any expense directly related to your rental.

Solutions range from traditional spreadsheets to new apps. Intuit, the parent company of TurboTax, partnered this year with the freelance marketplaces Fiverr.com, UpCounsel.com, and TaskRabbit to offer for free its new QuickBooks Online Self-Employed, which can be directly transferred to TurboTax.

Among independent efforts, Derek Davis developed his own free app—Tabby Tax—to help sharing economy workers keep track of expenses.

Drivers can use any number of tools such as MileIQ, EasyBiz Mileage Tracker, and Easy Mile Log to keep track of car expenses.

3. Know what you owe

LeBoeuf was surprised how much her extra income boosted her tax liability and lowered her usual refund. But some people are caught by an even greater surprise—owing money to the Internal Revenue Service.

Many new contractors learn the hard way that you have to pay taxes on freelance income quarterly rather than rely on an employer to deduct enough taxes from a paycheck. Most tax software programs, and any tax professional, should be able to generate an estimate of what you will have to pay based on your projected earnings. Then you can adjust as you go so you do not end up with a penalty for underpayment.

TIME Startups

Here’s the Major Downside of So Many $1-Billion ‘Unicorn’ Startups

Uber
Getty Images

Billion-dollar startups aren't rare. They're practically a dime a dozen these day—and that's not an entirely good thing

We live in a magical age of unicorns, those pre-IPO tech startups valued at $1 billion or more. And unlike the dot-com bubble, most of these startups are for real. They are companies whose services–like Uber, Spotify or Pinterest–we use every day. You could even say we consumers are the ones that are helping these unicorns to fly.

There is only one problem: Most of us consumers, as individual investors, are being shut out of the party.

These days, you hear a lot of people in the tech-investing world talk about how this is not 1999. The red ink has been washed away by the black at the strongest startups. A confluence of new technologies–the cloud, social networks, smartphones–are creating the mega-brands of the future. As one CEO memorably put it, “It’s the biggest wave of innovation in the history of the world.”

This is more or less true, but another big difference between today’s tech market and the tech market of 1999 is often overlooked: During the dot-com bubble–when most of the IPOs were pipe dreams waiting to crash–individual investors were able to buy their shares freely. Today, by contrast, most of the investments in the hottest tech startups are happening behind the velvet ropes of private financing.

US securities laws set up last century ensured that only accredited investors—currently, people earning at least $200,000 a year or with a net worth of more than $1 million—could buy stocks in private offerings. Those laws were intended to protect smaller investments from the risks of traditional private investments, and they worked for a long time. But recent changes, such as the JOBS Act, allowed private companies to more easily avoid IPOs if they so desired. And most of them have so desired.

The result is that tech companies that would have been open to ownership by everyday people in earlier decades are now open only to the elite. Hedge funds and other institutional investors jockey for access to occasional venture rounds rather than the daily battle of public markets. Corporate insiders have greater control in setting valuations, while executives escape the scrutiny of quarterly disclosures.

And so, unsurprisingly, the tech IPO has become as rare as, well, a unicorn. According to Renaissance Capital, 35% of the companies that went public in 2011 were technology startups. By last year, only 20% of the 273 IPOs were in the tech industry, and most were in the enterprise space rather than the brand names consumers knew. In the first quarter of 2015, only four tech companies went public. And none of them were exactly unicorns.

Three of those four tech IPOs have a history of losses–cloud-storage company Box, online-ad platform MaxPoint Interactive, and domain registrar GoDaddy. Only Inovalon, which runs cloud services for health-care companies, went public with a profit. In the wake of the recession, it was all but impossible for companies to go public with a history of losses but that changed starting last year, when according to Renaissance, 64% of large tech IPOs debuted with net losses, the highest ratio since 2000.

The companies that are choosing to go public aren’t the cream of the crop. Box may have a bright future, but like GoDaddy it went public at the behest of its investors and did so only after months of delays. Box also priced its IPO below its last private round, following late 2014 IPOs like New Relic and Hortonworks that took so-called “haircuts.”

Which brings up another reason for other companies to avoid IPOs–why do it when you can get better valuations in illiquid private markets? True, liquidation preferences and other private perks justify some of that premium, but private valuations are often more art than science.

The pace of tech IPOs are likely to pick up, but few of the candidates in the current pipeline are the highly coveted unicorns. Next week, Chinese e-commerce platform Wowo is expected to raise $45 million. Craft marketplace Etsy is also hoping to raise $250 million in the coming weeks. And mobile software Good Technology aims to list soon as well. All three have steady histories of net losses.

When it comes to the companies with the brightest futures, they are conspicuously absent from the pipeline. Long before the term “unicorn” became popular, CB Insights compiled a list of hot startups expected to go public in 2014. A year later, their list of hot startups expected to go public in 2015 looked suspiciously similar. And now that we’re into the second quarter, there’s little sign that many of them are planning to go public.

Ride-sharing giant Uber, lodging disruptor Airbnb, online-storage pioneer Dropbox, social-ephemeralist Snapchat, social-pin star Pinterest, music-streaming king Spotify, mobile-payments upstart Square–all have been sought after and well funded in private rounds. All have intimate connections to consumers, and would be broke without them. All couldn’t care less, it seems, when it comes to sharing their success with those consumers.

Maybe that’s why they’re called unicorns. Not because billion-dollar startups are rare–they’re practically a dime a dozen these days–but because, for most investors, they might as well be myths frolicking on the far end some of some rainbow.

Read next: Why This Apple Watch Rival Is Very Important

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MONEY Travel

Airbnb Just Opened for Business In a Surprising New Country

Havana, Cuba
Robert Harding World Imagery—Alamy Havana, Cuba

Home rental startup Airbnb is one of the first U.S. companies to announce plans to open operations in Cuba.

A “Unicorn” has been spotted in Cuba.

Airbnb, #4 on Fortune‘s “unicorn” list of tech startups worth more than $1 billion, is one of the first U.S. companies to announce plans to open operations in Cuba. The move comes less than four months after the U.S. and Cuba shocked the world by unveiling plans torepair a relationship between the two countries that had been strained for over 50 years.

Starting today, the room-booking startup will list some1,000 Cuban properties for American users on its site, and around half of them will be in the capital Havana.

Founded in 2008, Airbnb is a service that connects travelers to homeowners, giving guests access to private homes in a service that has now reached over 34,000 cities and more than 190 countries worldwide.

“For the first time in decades, licensed American travelers will have the chance to experience authentic Cuban hospitality at homes across the island,” Airbnb said in a blog post.

Earlier this year, the Obama administration announced it was easing restrictions on travel to Cuba. For the past 60 years, Americans had few legal ways to travel to the island as a result of an embargo enacted in the 1960s. The embargo was initially a response to the communist government of Fidel Castro, an ally of the Soviet Union. But Americans can now visit Cuba without a specific license if their reason for travel falls under 12 categories, including family visits, professional research or meetings, or humanitarian efforts.

Still, the Airbnb launch in Cuba, with rooms listing for as low as $30 a night for a visit next month, comes with some hiccups. As Bloomberg reported, only 4% of Cuban homes have Internet access of any kind. Airbnb is a technology company and it is important for homeowners and travelers looking to rent private spaces to be able to communicate online when booking a temporary residency at a private home.

Airbnb told Bloomberg that it had to find local intermediaries to help manage listings and connect hosts with customers. Hosts wanted cash, but Airbnb’s model depends on the website taking a 3% cut and transferring the rest of a payment to a host’s bank account. Ultimately, Airbnb had to contract a license money remitter, Florida-based VaCuba, to make payments on its behalf.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME politics

San Francisco Lawmakers Propose Tougher Restrictions on Airbnb Rentals

Airbnb
Airbnb

The proposal would take a trailblazing regulation measure passed last year and make it more restrictive

At a meeting of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, a local lawmaker returned to an issue that sparked long and contentious hearings in 2014: regulation of the city’s short-term rentals facilitated by Airbnb and similar companies.

“This law is a mess,” David Campos, one of the 11 board members, said of a measure passed last year that legalized short-term rentals. “It’s a mess that needs to be cleaned up. And we need to clean it up as soon as possible.”

Campos introduced legislation that would place stricter limitations on how often people can rent out rooms or homes, putting a “hard cap” of 90 days on every property, regardless of whether the host is present. It would also require companies such as Airbnb to share data about rentals, ban rentals in certain neighborhoods that have been zoned for no commercial use and give disturbed neighbors—like ones living next door to people who rent out units illegally—the right to sue for damages.

A spokesperson for Airbnb said in a statement to TIME that the new proposal is just creating tension over an issue that was settled in 2014.

“Elected officials spent three years debating all aspects of this issue before passing comprehensive legislation, but some folks still don’t think you should be able to occasionally share the home in which you live,” said Christopher Nulty. “We should all be striving to make the law work but these ad hoc rules and this new bill just make things more confusing.”

Campos’ measure has been co-sponsored by two other members of the board.

Under the law passed last year, residents in San Francisco are allowed to rent out their properties an unlimited amount of days if the host is present, while there is a 90-day cap on un-hosted rentals. The different limits were aimed at maximizing the economic potential for residents who depend on sites like Airbnb for income, while making it impossible for landlords to put rental units on those sites full-time. Before the law passed, all short-term rentals were technically illegal; rentals shorter than 30 days were banned.

MORE: 5 Things You Never Knew About the Sharing Economy

The problem, Campos says, is that the city planning commission, which is charged with enforcing the law, says there’s no method of determining when hosts are at home sleeping in their own beds, meaning they cannot monitor whether people are respecting the limits. Campos called the law a “paper tiger” that is “unenforceable” because it has no teeth.

Local lawmakers have pushed for limits on short-term rentals to make sure the sharing economy doesn’t cannibalize existing housing stock. “The concern is you take your unit off the market,” says Supervisor Jane Kim, who supports a 90-day cap.

In recent years, San Francisco has been in the midst of a housing crisis, with the amount of people wanting to live in the city exceeding the apartments that are available—which has sent rental prices skyrocketing. The law was partly aimed at stopping landlords from taking much-needed units off the market because renting them out every night on sites like Airbnb was more valuable than collecting a monthly check. It also legitimized a business popular with tourists and locals.

Kim points out that 90 days per year breaks down to about a week per month, or could be the length of a summer when a college student is out of town. It’s sufficient for what one might consider “regular” hosts who use Airbnb, she says. “If you’re doing more than 90 days, you’re running a business,” she says. Kim believes that people in that camp should apply for a bed-and-breakfast license, which requires hosts to meet more requirements like installing exit signs.

With the aim of making oversight more feasible, Campos’ proposal would require platforms like Airbnb to give the city data about how often properties are being rented through their sites. “Without that data, there’s simply no way of knowing,” Campos says. He adds that Airbnb has responded to previous requests for such data by demanding the city subpoena them and notes that Airbnb has fought such subpoenas in states like New York.

Under the current law, which went into effect in February, all hosts must register with the city before listing a property on a site like Airbnb. Campos says that as of two weeks ago only a few dozen residents have registered, while there are “thousands” of rooms and units being listed on short-term rental sites. In an attempt to incentivize compliance with the law, the proposal would also fine hosting platforms that list unregistered units in San Francisco to the tune of $1,000 per day.

“All of us support short-term rentals,” Campos said of the board members during Tuesday’s meeting. “We know that short-term rentals are part of San Francisco, that they are here to stay … That said, I think that those of us that have been talking about this believe there should be reasonable, fair regulation of this industry,” he continued. “The law that was passed last year does not constitute what we would like to see.”

Read next: Baby, You Can Drive My Car, and do My Errands, and Rent My Stuff…

MONEY Warren Buffett

Airbnb Will Let You Stay in Warren Buffett’s Childhood Home

Warren Buffett's childhood home
Airbnb

Assuming you’re a Berkshire Hathaway shareholder.

One lucky Berkshire Hathaway shareholder will get to spend a weekend in Warren Buffett’s childhood home, Airbnb announced Tuesday.

The contest comes after the legendary investor and Berkshire CEO said room rental service Airbnb was a good option for company shareholders looking to travel to Omaha for an annual shareholder meeting.


The Buffett contest is only open to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. Anyone interested has to do the following:

Provide your name and address and a few creative answers to the following questions:

(a) What are you most excited to experience in Omaha? (200 words max)
(b) What are you most looking forward to at the Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Meeting? (200 words max)
(c) What’s your favorite Airbnb experience? (200 words max)
(d) What’s next on your travel bucket list? (200 words max)

While a stay in Omaha, Neb. may not seem like much of a travel weekend to some, for fans of the Oracle of Omaha it’s akin staying a night in the Lincoln Bedroom. No word on whether people staying in the house will be required to stick to the Buffett diet, largely made up of Utz Potato Sticks, ice cream and Coca-Cola products.

This post originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME Travel

Sleep 9,000 Feet in the Air in This Cable Car Hotel Room

Airbnb
Airbnb

The luxurious cable car room is only being offered as part of a contest

Airbnb is typically known for letting people rent out their apartments or extra rooms. But here’s an Airbnb rental that’s literally in the air. Through a special promotion, the company is offering an opportunity to stay in a converted cable car suspended 9,000 feet above ground.

Located in the Courchevel ski resort in the French Alps, this cable car has been converted into a one-bathroom, two-bedroom apartment capable of accommodating up to four people. Once on board, the high-flying luxury rental ends its journey at La Saulire, the highest point in Courchevel, elevation 9,000 feet. It sounds like it could be the most exciting—or most frightening—night of your life, depending on how comfortable you are with heights…or how windy it happens to be.

For now, the space isn’t available for rent: It’s only being offered as part of a contest on Airbnb. Anyone can enter from now until Feb. 25. The lucky winners will also be treated to other amenities, including snowmobile transportation and plenty of wine and fondue, as well as dinner.

Airbnb doesn’t specify what will happen to the space after the contest ends. If it’s anything like most Airbnb apartments, it’ll probably be off the market for a few weeks while one of the owner’s buddies crashes there.

[h/t Fast Company]

Airbnb

This article originally appeared on FWx.

More from FWx:

TIME Advertising

Watch AirBnB’s Touching Berlin Wall Anniversary Story

The Wall fell on Nov. 9, 1989

You know communism is really dead when the Berlin Wall is being used to advertise AirBnB, the site that allows people to rent out their homes and apartments. But the 75-second ad, which marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, is surprisingly touching.

Wall and Chain” is the story of an old man, Jörg, who served as a guard on the West side of the wall many years ago. He’s haunted by his experience, until his daughter Cathrine takes him back to Berlin to visit his old home. When they meet their AirBnB host, Kai, they find out that he was once a guard on the East side of the wall, and Jörg is finally able to let go of his past. And while few other companies saw an advertising opportunity in the dark past of a divided city, AirBnB was able to turn history into a heartwarming animated short.

(MORE: See an interactive timeline of the Berlin wall)

 

MONEY sharing economy

New York Attorney General Says Airbnb Is Making Millions on Illegal Listings

Airbnb
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

A report from the state Attorney general claims Airbnb has made $40 million on illegal rentals, and that 70% of Airbnb's New York City listings violate the law.

If there’s one thing that divides New Yorkers, it’s Airbnb. As New York Magazine’s definitive feature on the do-it-yourself hotel service pointed out, the city is split between those who see Airbnb as an innocent way for New Yorkers to transform their overpriced housing assets into some extra scratch, and those who blame the company for turning their apartment buildings into unregulated crashpads for rag-tag out-of-towners.

On Thursday, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman provided the anti-Airbnb camp with more fodder when he accused Airbnb of making $40 million on illegal listings over the past three and a half years. As The New York Post writes, that number is based on a new report from Schneiderman’s office that also estimates 70% of Airbnb’s New York City listings are illegal.

Under New York state law, renters are allowed to sublet their apartment on Airbnb (assuming their lease permits it), but must be physically present while subtenants are there. Conventional landlords, meanwhile, are barred from leasing an apartment for fewer than 30 days — precisely to prevent residential buildings from being turned into unregulated hotels. The Attorney General’s report, which looked at Airbnb bookings from the start of 2010 to June of this year, says the vast majority of the site’s listing are not private citizens monetizing a spare room, but lessors renting out multiple apartments at a time.

Specifically, the Attorney General’s office found more than 100 landlords who used Airbnb to rent out more than 10 apartments each. These owners alone accounted for 47,103 reservations and took in almost $60 million in revenue. One particularly ambitious landlord accounted for 272 unique listings and made $6.8 million off 3,024 reservations. Schneiderman also complained that Airbnb users rarely, if ever, pay the city’s 14.7% hotel occupancy tax and the site has not tried to collect that tax from any of the transactions reviewed by his office.

Concerns over illegal listings are not a new issue for Airbnb. In September, New York Magazine reported on the ongoing fight between the company and New York State Senator Liz Krueger over regulations for the nascent apartment sharing industry. While Airbnb argues that their service enables average folks to pay their rent, the Attorney General’s office has countered that the site’s average “power-user” is making $500,000 a year renting at least 10 different residencies. “[They’re] hardly making ends meet,” a spokesman for the office told the magazine.

Airbnb responded to the report by urging regulators against overreaction. “We should not deny thousands of New Yorkers the chance to share their homes, pay their bills and stay in the city they love,” said the company in statement to the Post. “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.”

 

 

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