Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Travel Tales: Doing the Airbnb Thing

Los Angeles has thousands of hotel rooms and most of them have a high price. I have been lucky that I have not had to stay in hotels in LA for several years. This year I found a great place through Airbnb. I had been looking at the site for a long time, but I was nervous to commit to a place I did not know. I was also concerned about what the neighborhood would be like. Finally, my daughter saw a place that was perfect for my needs. It was available for just the amount of time I needed and was within walking distance of her place, so I decided to take the leap.

(Photo credit: memyselfandtheinterstate.com)
All financial transactions were handled through the AIRBNB website. Once the reservation was made, I was able to communicate with the host of the property. I was lucky that he was such a friendly guy. We figured out the particulars and completed the arrangements. I was relieved to have a place secured for my visit before I even left Ohio. I usually wait until I arrive in California and try to find a place while I stay with my daughter.

Every month Airbnb took my rent from my credit card. That made everything easy. I would use the site again.

Los Angeles, Santa Monica and many cities are trying to put rules into effect to prevent or limit property owners from renting to Airbnb customers. One rule being considered is the renter has to stay at the property for at least a month. I can see both sides of the debate. Hotels are losing revenue, but finding affordable accommodations is difficult for vacationers. Renting out a condo or apartment is a way for people to make some extra money. However, other tenants have a right to be concerned when a constant parade of strangers stays in their building. No one knows when one of these strangers could pose a threat. One other consideration to keep in mind, private Airbnb landlords are not held to the same rules as hotels are. When vacationers have problems, they have few options.

Some of the people renting their apartments have a lease which states they cannot sublet or rent to anyone else. For example, I knew someone who rented out his apartment is a huge complex. He knew that it was against the rules of his lease. He decided to rent it out anyway and was caught when the leasing agents happened to see the listing on the Airbnb website. That was not the fault of the website. The guy knew what was in his lease.

Airbnb is filling a gap in the short-term rental markets of cities. If they are concerned, the cities should try to come up with a fair plan for all involved. Finding affordable short-housing is challenging and Airbnb is just trying to help.

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