your EVIL, UNETHICAL AND IMMORAL extenuating circumstances policy
March 24, 2020 2:59 PM   Subscribe

Airbnb is allowing cancellations without penalty for COVID-19 reasons. Some hosts are OUTRAGED. (I made a transcript.)

Hosts who were using Airbnb as advertised - "rent out your extra room/backyard cottage for extra money" - are distressed but not financially destroyed, while those who rent multiple units are feeling a serious crunch. Those who weren't following the rules are in even more trouble.

One commenter at Fark reports,
A relative of mine has 20 something Air BnBs, he's in his 30's. I've wondered "how the fark did you manage to buy 20+ properties in a high COL city in the space of a few years??! Didn't ask as talking about money like that can go weird real fast.

Found out this week. Turns out he wasn't buying them. He was/is one of these folks who rents an unfurnished house, furnishes it and then secretly sublets it on AirBnB. Every single upcoming booking has cancelled and in a few days time he owes over $50k in rent that, flatly, is not going to get paid and 20+ landlords are about to find out they've been supplying housing to AirBnB these last few years.
There's a new Twitter account: AirbnbHostClass, pushing for hosts to file a class-action lawsuit. (Note the lack of real names or legal references attached.) And of course, there's a change.org petition.

Past coverage of Airbnb scams:
posted by ErisLordFreedom (123 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
 
Landlords In 'Wankers' Shocker

Film at 10
posted by GallonOfAlan at 3:02 PM on March 24 [27 favorites]


And here I thought the smile 'o' the day was the news of all those nitwits @ Liberty U packing back into the "school". This makes the whole thing so much better. Go Gig Econ Go.
posted by Freedomboy at 3:06 PM on March 24 [9 favorites]


That outraged guy in the twitter video is seriously rockin the Zorg.
posted by Catblack at 3:07 PM on March 24 [13 favorites]




🎻🔬
posted by acb at 3:11 PM on March 24 [108 favorites]


Oh, look, now we have a solid data point with all these suddenly available apartments on the market. Gee, I wonder if someone can capture this data and then provide it as evidence to local governments about the actual number of rentals that aren’t available because some people are fucking assholes.
posted by daq at 3:14 PM on March 24 [134 favorites]


Gosh, so maybe it actually wasn’t a good idea to remove huge amounts of stock from the regular rental market?
posted by holborne at 3:17 PM on March 24 [40 favorites]


Re: the 64% increase in long term rental stock statistic, does anyone have "official" sources on that type of info - verified university profs, localities, media reports? I've seen a bunch of similar claims on Twitter about various localities, with maps, but haven't been able to verify that the accounts posting them are legit. I really hope the data is correct (and hope it spurs localities to take action) but Twitter right now seems to be pumping out even more "sounds-true-but-not" tweets than usual and I want to double check.
posted by rogerroger at 3:21 PM on March 24 [19 favorites]


God damn the world is terrible. How does Airbnb bro not understand that with greater reward come greater risk?
posted by Keith Talent at 3:23 PM on March 24 [11 favorites]


Re: the 64% increase in long term rental stock statistic, does anyone have "official" sources on that type of info - verified university profs, localities, media reports?

Tom Slee, whom I linked, is an activist and reporter who's been covering the gig economy for some time now. In turn, the tweet he retweeted is pulling their stats from Daft, an Irish property search firm. Here's their report on the jump.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:25 PM on March 24 [23 favorites]


God damn the world is terrible. How does Airbnb bro not understand that with greater reward come greater risk?

Something something Leopards Eating Faces Party.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:25 PM on March 24 [20 favorites]


I do like the tweet that added the Imperial March.
posted by soundguy99 at 3:29 PM on March 24 [25 favorites]


My favourite descriptor for this guy was, libertarian eyes.

I also wonder what has happened to all those people who were leasing cars so that they could get to work and paying for it by driving them as Uber taxis as a second job.
posted by asok at 3:43 PM on March 24 [17 favorites]


This is how much I hate 2020 and living in this era, I seriously cannot tell if this is a stunt and it's just a big performance or if it's legitimately real. It really could go either way.

I hate this fucking timeline.
posted by Fizz at 3:46 PM on March 24 [23 favorites]


Capitalism creates its own crises.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:46 PM on March 24 [5 favorites]


[Couple comments removed, let's keep this more focused on the Airbnb thing specifically and not general shitty politics.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:48 PM on March 24 [10 favorites]


So AirBnB gets to blanket institute this cancellation policy, all of its "partners" (in all their ethical variance) get to eat the $$$, and come out smelling like roses?

Ugh!
posted by billjings at 3:50 PM on March 24 [8 favorites]


Fizz, there was discussion about whether or not it was satire on the Twitter thread I discovered it on. The conclusion was that it couldn't be satire because he had a serious case of libertarian eyes.
posted by asok at 3:50 PM on March 24 [21 favorites]


I think this 'AirBnB Host' is taking the piss.
posted by Flashman at 3:51 PM on March 24 [3 favorites]


his is how much I hate 2020 and living in this era, I seriously cannot tell if this is a stunt and it's just a big performance or if it's legitimately real. It really could go either way.

It's a masterwork of Poe's Law, I'll say that. But given the responses Business Insider recieved, I can totally see this as real.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:51 PM on March 24 [4 favorites]


One of the few bright spots of 2020. I am thoroughly enjoying AirBnB rentiers getting their own little Panic of 1873 and it's so great watching the hand of the free market slapping these assholes into bankruptcy.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 3:53 PM on March 24 [37 favorites]


So AirBnB gets to blanket institute this cancellation policy, all of its "partners" (in all their ethical variance) get to eat the $$$, and come out smelling like roses?

Except that now, the emperor is laid bare for the entire world to see. It has become abundantly clear that Airbnb hosts are largely not "people renting a room to make a little extra cash", but landlords violating short term leasing laws to make quick cash - and now we have the actual statistics to back it up.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:54 PM on March 24 [107 favorites]


libertarian eyes.

If you need a sarcastic MetaFilter user name and you're lurking, go for it.
posted by Fizz at 3:55 PM on March 24 [30 favorites]


With these libertarian eyes
One virus and I've got losses I can't describe
I've got libertarian eyes
I now feel the magic of bailouts for I
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 3:58 PM on March 24 [15 favorites]


Here in the UK all estate agent offices are being closed, so they can't AirBnB them, they can't rent them and they can't sell them. Some of these landlords own entire buildings, perhaps they could convert them into small temporary hospitals?
posted by Lanark at 4:00 PM on March 24 [4 favorites]


His hair is Harlow gold
His lips sweet surprise
His hands are always cold
He's got libertarian eyes
He'll turn the music on you
You won't have to book twice
He's pure as New York snow
He's got libertarian eyes
posted by Lanark at 4:02 PM on March 24 [82 favorites]


Wow, OUTRAGED, is just so passionate, I really can't tell if he's serious.
posted by doctor_negative at 4:08 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


God dammit, I had one booked for London in April, and cancelled a month ago. Lost half the cost. Should have been less proactive!
posted by schoolgirl report at 4:08 PM on March 24 [13 favorites]


“You give us the ILLUSION of stability… then you TEAR it from our bleeding hands when we need it most.”

Just how do you come to associate stability with AirBnB? The whole point is that revenues rise with demand (or fall, of course). I bet this guy’s next video rants that he doesn’t get the same Uber driver each time.
posted by Monochrome at 4:09 PM on March 24 [7 favorites]


perhaps they could convert them into small temporary hospitals?

Holy shit. Take these temporary hospitals, call them "co-infection space" and list them on an app called Vrus. $40 a night and you can subscribe to a wellness membership with all your needs met. In the kitchen will be stocked with patent medicine, quack cures, essential oils, you know, anecdotal things that your friend's cousin swears worked for him. You get to share a return to wellness pod with people who become friends for life!

Go on the news, tell people with this new app they can "take back control of their own care and make new friends in this innovative new co-infection arrangement" and watch that paper roll in.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 4:10 PM on March 24 [29 favorites]


I submitted a refund request on March 12 for the 50% I had already paid on an AirBnB in San Juan PR for April. Finally heard back today - they granted me the full refund (about $450). However, if they hadn't I was ok with eating the $450. It was a sunk cost - spent the money when I booked the place in December.
posted by COD at 4:11 PM on March 24 [2 favorites]


goddamit, Lanark, you just earwormed me
posted by soundguy99 at 4:11 PM on March 24 [5 favorites]


the sweet sweet suffering of these city-ruining assholes is far more pleasurable than anything on pornhub to date
posted by poffin boffin at 4:24 PM on March 24 [63 favorites]


...
and he'll lease you
he'll displease you
All the better just to fleece you
he's atrocious and he knows just
What it takes to make a bank flush
he got Graydon Carter stand off sighs
He's got libertarian eyes
posted by Lanark at 4:28 PM on March 24 [100 favorites]


I have a couple of Airbnb places booked in late June for what was supposed to be our first overseas trip with the kids. I am just waiting to see what will happen. Like COD I'm luckily OK if I have to eat the $500 on one of them, the other one has a very generous cancellation policy. There's also the flights and hotels that have been paid, so I'm sure we will lose a bit. It's a bummer but we still have jobs (fingers crossed) and can take the financial hit. I had a work trip to Nepal booked with a group for May and I'm spending a lot more time thinking about how those poor people who rely so much on tourism will be suffering once again. First the civil war, then the earthquake and now this.
posted by Cuke at 4:29 PM on March 24 [3 favorites]


That twitter link: I smell over-dramatic ham, to be honest. Or rank bullshit bad acting.
posted by drivingmenuts at 4:34 PM on March 24 [2 favorites]


So they go bankrupt then the properties de-inception up a level or two then the banks write it off, go find another victim to sell the dream and AirBnb continues to make low risk money, right?
posted by mattamatic at 4:34 PM on March 24 [3 favorites]


The Airbnb and Uber scams and the general attitude that the poor will suffer what they must reminds me of this Stewart Lee piece imagining a Tory MP as the inventor of live maggot vending machines, which he explains are at once economical and exceedingly humane.
posted by acb at 4:34 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


I was going to spend Easter week in Vienna in an AirBnB flat. I was about to cancel it (I had until the end of March do get 50% back) and AirBnB stepped in an cancelled it for me, refunding all the money. I won't forget that and I already promised the person I was renting from that whenever I eventually get to Vienna I will definitely book with her again. Some sunny day...
posted by chavenet at 4:34 PM on March 24 [2 favorites]


a serious case of libertarian eyes

Not to mention the alt-right-favored high fade haircut, a.k.a. Hitler hair.
posted by The Tensor at 4:35 PM on March 24 [9 favorites]


That twitter link: I smell over-dramatic ham, to be honest.

I smell meth.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 4:36 PM on March 24 [10 favorites]


Weird how this AirBnB host guy isn't aware that's he's just a sharecropper. Buddy there's a reason "sharecropper" is not a positive term. AirBnB guarantees hosts absolutely nothing, so cancelling all these reservations is no big deal for them.

Just how do you come to associate stability with AirBnB?

People are morons and don't understand how risk works. Here's a tip for any and all future AirBnB hosts: past results are no guarantee of future performance. Just repeat that line until you find yourself saying it during sex and you'll have sufficiently internalized it.
posted by GuyZero at 4:37 PM on March 24 [16 favorites]


That outraged guy in the twitter video is seriously rockin the Zorg.

Dude definitely just got off the phone with a sentient planetoid hurtling toward the earth.
posted by GuyZero at 4:38 PM on March 24 [25 favorites]


That has to be a satire set up as honey trap bait for Twitter outrage. If so, Bravo!

Of course I thought almost the same thing when Trump announced his candidacy in 2012.
posted by Everyone Expects The Spanish Influenza at 4:40 PM on March 24 [8 favorites]


I have one scheduled just *after* the cutoff of this policy. It's to go to a canceled conference. When I wrote the host to let them know that I was going to request a cancellation anyway (they can say "yes" at this stage without damage to their account status, but without keeping part of the cancelled reservation). They said, paraphrasing, "the cancellations are the only thing keeping me afloat right now". The type of rental (full apartment) makes me read the host as a real estate speculator. I plan to wait and see whether the free cancellation dates are unilaterally extended by responsible adults. But, I still feel conflicted about this course of action.
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 5:03 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


That twitter link: I smell over-dramatic ham, to be honest.

I think he spent a little too much of that Air BnB money on uppers.
posted by fshgrl at 5:13 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


I'll bet Howie Mandel is rethinking that soul patch right about now.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 5:15 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


Although I can't imagine Air BnB is legally in the right here, they have unilaterally changed a contract and I believe they likely owe this money to the landlords. Be interesting to see how it plays out.
posted by fshgrl at 5:16 PM on March 24 [3 favorites]


One thing about gig economy. You either need to maintain good relations with the people who are doing all the work for you or you have to have constant replacements.

This screws the present and the future.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:24 PM on March 24 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the "change contract without notice" part seems exceedingly dodgy and illegal in many areas.

OTOH, taking them to court for it would require hosts to put their own financial arrangements in the public record, and those who are playing the "rent 8 (or 50) apartments so I can rent them out by the weekend" game, aren't going to have much luck getting legal support. The ones who are actual owners of several properties, but renting via Airbnb in violation of local laws, are in the same situation.

Airbnb's willingness to pull the unilateral contract switch may even be brought up as evidence that they knew a lot of their hosts aren't fully legal.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:27 PM on March 24 [14 favorites]


...
he'll let you take his home
It whets his appetite
he'll bill you on the phone
He's got libertarian eyes

OK I think thats enough of this!
posted by Lanark at 5:27 PM on March 24 [11 favorites]


I don't think airbnb is switching anything based on this help page. Among the reasons a host or guest can cancel:

Epidemic disease or illness that suddenly affects a region or an entire group of people. This doesn’t include existing diseases that are associated with an area—for example, malaria in Thailand or dengue fever in Hawaii. Any updates to our policy regarding the outbreak of a disease, and the scope of policy application, will be determined based on announcements by the World Health Organization and local authorities.
posted by InfidelZombie at 5:51 PM on March 24 [26 favorites]


You either need to maintain good relations with the people who are doing all the work for you or you have to have constant replacements.


The thing about gig "employees" is that they're completely replaceable. Uber is always tightening the screws on it's drivers without suffering any consequences. Where else are hosts going to go?

Also, if you want to turn you house into a hotel, you should expect to be hit as hard by disasters as the rest of the industry.
posted by rdr at 5:52 PM on March 24 [12 favorites]


Oh this so reminds of back when you could write off credit-card interest on your taxes and everyone in marketing was leveraged up to their eyeballs on credit card loans ..... and then the govt changed the tax rules

Pulls out tiny violin
posted by mbo at 5:53 PM on March 24 [6 favorites]


Not to mention the alt-right-favored high fade haircut, a.k.a. Hitler hair.

Or anyone under 40 in CA that doesn't go to SuperCuts/SportClips but an actual barber.

Although not this week, I say as I look in the mirror and realize I'm going to have a full on mullet before this is over...
posted by sideshow at 6:04 PM on March 24 [3 favorites]


Hitler hair is Hitler hair. I understand it's very popular and practical—I myself have a persistent tickle behind my right ear that only seems to go away after a haircut—but sometimes you just have to ask yourself, "Do I really want to go around styled like Hitler today?"
posted by The Tensor at 6:29 PM on March 24 [19 favorites]


The ones who are actual owners of several properties, but renting via Airbnb in violation of local laws, are in the same situation.

"I never thought the disrupters would disrupt me!"
posted by lefty lucky cat at 6:31 PM on March 24 [26 favorites]


Let me get this straight: you used an app, and stretched the "share your house when you are away" model to become an unregulated hotel magnet. You figured all you had to do was have a dozen presentable rooms, let AirBnB do the paperwork, and cash checks.

Then the virus hits.

And you want to bitch?

There are a few things I expect to be killed by the virus. The sharing economy hopefully will be one of them.
posted by MrGuilt at 6:57 PM on March 24 [34 favorites]


Kate Shaw, a host of multiple properties across Southern California, said that Airbnb’s reliance on the government to help its hosts is passing off the moral and fiscal responsibility that the company should have.

“They should have been prepared with an insurance or fund,” said Shaw, who has relied on renting her properties as her sole source of income since late 2018. “Without hosts they have no business, and they should have morally and fiscally been prepared to keep their supply chain (i.e. hosts) in operation in case of emergency.”


Maybe she should've carried insurance for interruption of business herself.

It's really been coming clear to me in the last couple of weeks how (at least) American culture treats anyone who works for a wage as a loser, and treats anyone running a hustle as someone who needs to be protected when they lose a bet. It's clear in the mentality of everyone who's leveraged themselves heavily in this whole Airbnb charade.
posted by Ickster at 7:05 PM on March 24 [105 favorites]


Almost immediately after Ontario started shutting things down, people in Toronto started noticing a huge influx of rental housing listings in Toronto -- all those AirBnB hosts who were suddenly losing their summer bookings were putting the properties back on the rental market. And since you can't evict a tenant without cause once they're in the unit, those properties may well end up staying in the rental market for a pretty long time.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:08 PM on March 24 [46 favorites]


Let me get this straight: you used an app, and stretched the "share your house when you are away" model to become an unregulated hotel magnet. You figured all you had to do was have a dozen presentable rooms, let AirBnB do the paperwork, and cash checks.

Then the virus hits.

And you want to bitch?


It's not too different from this level on up to CEOs who were operating at the very hilt of their profitability just assuming nothing would ever go wrong and now want us to sacrifice literal human lives to make their stock numbers go back up.
posted by codacorolla at 7:27 PM on March 24 [43 favorites]


He was/is one of these folks who rents an unfurnished house, furnishes it and then secretly sublets it on AirBnB. Every single upcoming booking has cancelled and in a few days time he owes over $50k in rent that, flatly, is not going to get paid...

WAT.

That is literally a "house of cards" income-generating strategy. He is going to be sued unto death, isn't he? Yikes.

"This message is for Brian Chesky of Airbnb. We are your loyal hosts and most devoted supporters. Well that is… we used to be. Now with FIRE boiling through our veins..."

::droplet does "...and scene" improv run in front of the camera::
posted by droplet at 7:27 PM on March 24 [6 favorites]


They should have been prepared with an insurance or fund

But that would open the door for a competitor to AirBnB to spring up and undercut AirBnB by not being prepared with an insurance or fund. And that competitor would almost certainly win, because the hosts will look at how much money they get, not whether they are protected by insurance against a once-in-a-century event.
posted by aubilenon at 7:28 PM on March 24 [9 favorites]


I really can’t complain about the possible impending death of AirBNB at all. It sure would be nice to have a bunch of housing back on New Orleans’ market!
posted by egypturnash at 7:35 PM on March 24 [20 favorites]


Damn, Lanark. You're old. Unfortunately, so am I.
posted by Naberius at 8:10 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


He is going to be sued unto death, isn't he? Yikes.

Probably not. If any of his rentals were month-to-month, he'll just lose them, and maybe get sued for a month or two's rent. (But maybe not - possibly whatever deposit he paid already covers that.) If they were leased, he may get stuck with the cost of the leases, but he may be able to break them early without paying. And the actual owners may not mind if he vanishes, as long as they have a quick turnaround to find a new renter.

It's more likely that he just loses access to them and can't re-rent them when the lockdowns are over. He may get billed for the missing rent, but many landlords don't care to sue over a month or two of lost rent; it's too much hassle, as long as the place is clean and quickly re-rentable.

...that's assuming he doesn't slip up and mention that he can't pay because his Airbnb renters cancelled.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 8:25 PM on March 24 [3 favorites]


If it’s California, an eviction takes 6+ months, so he might even come out ahead as the landlords would likely pay him to “leave” rather than leaving the rentals empty for half a year.
posted by sideshow at 8:33 PM on March 24 [3 favorites]


Their contracts probably have force majeure clauses. Either way, a contract to break the law is unenforceable, so if your rentals are in violation of local law, tough noogies to you. And if you are subleasing in violation of a master lease, well, you can't transfer more rights than you actually have in a property--you won't be able to show damages.
posted by praemunire at 8:34 PM on March 24 [14 favorites]


I wonder if anyone is going to take advantage of the eviction moratoriums to overstay at an Airbnb.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 8:50 PM on March 24 [4 favorites]


but many landlords don't care to sue over a month or two of lost rent; it's too much hassle,

Considering in a commercial dispute you'll spend at least mid five figures before getting to trial, and considering that they're out maybe a couple thousand each, just kicking him out is pretty much just a cost of business. If there is damage that needs expensive repair, maybe it would be worth it, but judgments are uncertain and might be a year or three away.
posted by bonehead at 8:56 PM on March 24 [3 favorites]


thier tears are like wine
posted by The Whelk at 9:43 PM on March 24 [15 favorites]


I’ve talked with friends recently about how bizarre it is that, with pretty much every major city in the world dealing with skyrocketing rents and housing shortages, Tokyo remains a surprisingly affordable place to live. Don’t get me wrong, pay hasn’t really risen here at all recently, but honestly, neither have rents. And now it’s all sort of falling into place, that a couple years back, shortly after Air BnB started up here, the number of complaints skyrocketed, and the government essentially banned Air BnB being used for any space that wasn’t directly owned by the host. If you rent, you can’t legally use the rental as an Air BnB space, and I’m reasonably sure you aren’t even allowed to sign up as a host on the Japanese Air BnB platform unless you can prove you own the place.

Who knew saying “no” to disrupty tech bros might actually keep the fundamental necessities of society from being gutted and made unattainable to anyone outside the rich?
posted by Ghidorah at 10:18 PM on March 24 [93 favorites]


thier tears are like wine

Who knew sour grapes could make such a refreshing vintage?
posted by Ghidorah at 10:32 PM on March 24 [19 favorites]


If you rent, you can’t legally use the rental as an Air BnB space, and I’m reasonably sure you aren’t even allowed to sign up as a host on the Japanese Air BnB platform unless you can prove you own the place.

Can we hire Japan as, I dunno, like, office managers of these United States?
posted by Chitownfats at 11:25 PM on March 24 [21 favorites]


Can we hire Japan as, I dunno, like, office managers of these United States?

See, having worked under Japanese office managers...this is where we end up with an actual, earnest, non-evil caution about being careful that the cure isn’t worse than the disease.
posted by Ghidorah at 1:37 AM on March 25 [21 favorites]


Can we hire Japan as, I dunno, like, office managers of these United States?

You'll need to stock up on your fax machines

posted by lesser weasel at 1:57 AM on March 25 [16 favorites]


I wonder if anyone is going to take advantage of the eviction moratoriums to overstay at an Airbnb.
posted by ErisLordFreedom


If by "take advantage" you mean "survive unemployment for a few months" ... I mean, sure. Housing is a human right, eviction court was a horror long before this public health crisis. AirBnb should be opened to facilitate housing people through this crisis. Can you imagine being laid off and sequestered with your abusive spouse during this 'stay at home' order? Ugh.
posted by eustatic at 3:42 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]


In related news: Hundreds of residents of the budget hotel chain Travelodge, including homeless families housed there by local councils, have been turned out on to the street after it closed its premises.
On Tuesday night the children’s commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, urged ministers to allow councils to requisition empty Airbnb properties as short-term rental blocks and hotels which had rooms with cooking facilities to put up homeless families.
posted by Lanark at 3:53 AM on March 25 [4 favorites]


20+ landlords are about to find out they've been supplying housing to AirBnB these last few years.

Oh, they knew.

This is a nice entry in my series on "what does it mean to run things as a business" since Trump and his supporters like to use that phrase.

These people were in a business they did not actually understand. They were taking inventory risk and being paid for it through the delta between the rent/mortgage they paid and the rent they charged. Now something has happened and they are being forced to actually bear that risk.
posted by atrazine at 4:04 AM on March 25 [10 favorites]


Oh, they knew.

Surely if a landlord knew that the property they are renting out for $1000 was being sublet for $4000 they would just list it on AirBnB themselves?
posted by Lanark at 4:43 AM on March 25 [10 favorites]


I have friends who own two guest houses that they list on Airbnb as guest houses - before they took this step they made fordamnsure that they were compliant with local laws, and as the local laws change they change their own policy to stay compliant. They also list on VRBO. And they have been getting super-screwed over by people cancelling their reservations over the past couple weeks.

The difference between them and this guy is, they understand that there is a god-damn pandemic going on and this is beyond anyone's control. This is one of those unforeseen things that can happen if you're trying to run a business. They read the fine print in their Airbnb contract, they knew that this was what Airbnb's policy was, and they accepted the risk.

Would they accept the money if Airbnb decided to compensate them for the loss of income? Hell yes. But they're not gonna try to make whiny little drama-king YouTube videos to shame them into doing it because they did their homework and knew that this was what might happen because they are grown-ups.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:37 AM on March 25 [14 favorites]


> I don't think airbnb is switching anything based on this help page. Among the reasons a host or guest can cancel:

Interesting.

According to archive.org, this is what that line looked like in 2018:
"Endemic disease declared by a credible national or international authority (such as the US Center for Disease Control or the World Health Organization)"

...and 2019:
"Endemic disease or illness that suddenly affects a region or an entire group of people. This doesn’t include existing diseases that are associated with an area—for example, malaria in Thailand or dengue fever in Hawaii."

...and 2020:
"Epidemic disease or illness that suddenly affects a region or an entire group of people. This doesn’t include existing diseases that are associated with an area—for example, malaria in Thailand or dengue fever in Hawaii. Any updates to our policy regarding the outbreak of a disease, and the scope of policy application, will be determined based on announcements by the World Health Organization and local authorities."

Emphases mine. I don't know if one of their lawyers didn't understand the difference between endemic and epidemic, but they got that sorted once it mattered.
posted by at by at 6:00 AM on March 25 [10 favorites]


Re: the 64% increase in long term rental stock statistic, does anyone have "official" sources on that type of info - verified university profs, localities, media reports?

The figure comes from daft.ie, Ireland's real estate listings site. It's been widely reported. It's a shock to absolutely nobody. It's also utterly obvious, because all of these newly available 1 and 2 bedroom apartments in Dublin have Instagram-worthy photos complete with folded towels on the beds, lavendar floating in the bath water, and charming breakfasts laid out in the kitchens.

There are few enough good things that can come out of this pandemic, but banning Air BnB from Ireland would be one of them. It has fueled a desperate housing crisis and homelessness increase that's breathtaking.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:39 AM on March 25 [17 favorites]


But I didn't expect the leopard to eat _my_ face.

Ha ha! Hahahahaha hahahah haha a hah ha! *wipes tear*

I swear to god this is the first time I've laughed out loud in weeks and that it could be at the expense of these rule breaking, illegal "businessmen" is icing on the cake. I don't care if this is satire, it's comedy gold either way.

I mean who would have thought that a company whose entire shtick is operating hotels illegally (regardless of where they started), whose every action promotes side stepping numerous housing and employment laws, would act in a "EVIL, UNETHICAL AND IMMORAL" manner to screw over a subcontractor. Not expecting that is like expecting to be paid in full by a Trump managed business.

I'd love to see a class action where the court gives them a coupon for one free listing; their lawyers make 10 million; and then every jurisdiction with a tight housing market takes the depositions of lost rental that have been entered in to evidence and charges the landlords whatever the illegal short term rental penalty is for each and every rental. And I don't mean each rental property, I mean apply the penalty for every single cancelled reservation.

Surely if a landlord knew that the property they are renting out for $1000 was being sublet for $4000 they would just list it on AirBnB themselves?

That money is only available if you are willing to break the law in most cases. A lot of real estate is held by people unwilling to do so in such an obvious, paper-trailed way.
posted by Mitheral at 6:54 AM on March 25 [16 favorites]


NGL I always thought maybe I was being TOO risk-adverse and TOO cowardly by not quitting my typical, somewhat stable 9-5 job to rely on the "independent" gig economy and this whole pandemic and shown that maybe I just have the gift of foresight.

I actually do feel sorry for the people who use AirBNB as their primary or to supplement their income using their own homes, such as the retired and the disabled among others. Hell, I even feel bad right now for the creep in Denver that catfished me because he was very obviously desperate for money.

The gig economy was supposed to allow people like this to have a semblance of financial independence and power where large corporations had snubbed them as useless.
posted by Young Kullervo at 7:35 AM on March 25 [10 favorites]


In that way I would rather not see it die but be more heavily regulated so that others don't abuse it.
posted by Young Kullervo at 7:39 AM on March 25 [3 favorites]


In that way I would rather not see it die but be more heavily regulated so that others don't abuse it.

The problem is that Silicon Valley responds to regulation in the same manner Peter Thiel responds to sunlight. These companies fundamentally believe that they should not be regulated whatsoever.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:10 AM on March 25 [14 favorites]


The biggest problem for me is that Airbnb does provide one practical service. If you're a multifamily group of more than 6 people hotel rooms, even suites, don't provide the necessary layouts for a family experience. Sure you can get a bunch of hotel rooms to get to the appropriate bed numbers but they often don't integrate well since the rooms can be all over the place and they're not really conducive to evenings as families plus they often lack privacy where you do try to cram people in.

Apartments provide much better living spaces for this sort of thing where you want to have multiple families in that closeish proximity on a trip. In the case of a place like midtown Manhattan sometimes the only way to house multiple families on a single property is to grab an Airbnb in Hell's Kitchen. Even Residence Inn, the gold standard in multi-room hotel apartments only goes up to two bedrooms in a single suite. The problem is that families often are the most price conscious consumers in the accommodation market so even if you are upper middle class and do have the $$$ to afford a three or four bedroom hotel apartment, they just don't exist.

Don't get me wrong, Airbnb is truly an awful experience. I'm an experienced traveler and have used it at a pinch but the whole experience from start to finish is awful more often than not. The number of "good" hosts I've had where it's someone renting out a duplexish space in their house, I can count on one hand and they've all been in Westchester County when I went to visit relatives in White Plains. None of them were in Manhattan. There they were all pretty much absentee landlords.

When I sent my mother and my sister's family down to NYC just after new year last year when they were here, I didn't dare put them in an Airbnb. At least when I go along with them I know how it all works and what to do when SHTF but since we didn't go I didn't want them to call me because they broke some unwritten rule and the host was a dick about it, or worse, it was a scam. I ended up managing to squeeze them into two hotel rooms in a reasonably priced hotel a couple of blocks from Rock Center. If my wife and I went with them? There wasn't really a hotel that we could have all stayed in as a family.

So yeah, I want Airbnb to die in a fire for the most part. Tourists with cash shouldn't be able to displace local families from apartments in the market. But I'd really like it if we could solve this whole hotels suck for large groups problem as well.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:13 AM on March 25 [7 favorites]


Re: the 64% increase in long term rental stock statistic, does anyone have "official" sources on that type of info - verified university profs, localities, media reports?

If you read the stats, that 64% increase is 300 units in Dublin, a city of 1.3 million people, and 365 units in all of Ireland. That's about .5 months of supply.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:25 AM on March 25 [3 favorites]


That's about .5 months of supply

Oops, I was off. It's less.

FTA: "The scale is still small compared to overall need, however, with the Dublin rental market typically needing 1,000 homes a week to keep rents affordable. "
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:29 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


It's really been coming clear to me in the last couple of weeks how (at least) American culture treats anyone who works for a wage as a loser, and treats anyone running a hustle as someone who needs to be protected when they lose a bet.

"First of all, those people on those signs, they WON. You lost."
posted by hanov3r at 9:03 AM on March 25


New Song: Ticket Scalpers in Hell.

One of my faves.
posted by mule98J at 9:04 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]


But even if we imagine Airbnb decides for some reason to pay out all the hosts for bookings between March 15-April 14 as well as refund the guests, the hosts would still have no bookings from April 15 out -- that one month of booking isn't going to solve their long term problems.
posted by jeather at 9:53 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


The biggest problem for me is that Airbnb does provide one practical service. If you're a multifamily group of more than 6 people

Or you need wheelchair access and a bathtub (most "accessible" hotel rooms are shower-only)
Or you need to cook your own food because of allergies
Or you want to be within 15 minutes' drive of the relatives you're visiting
Or you want to separate "kid sleeping area" from "kid playing area"
Or you want kids to spend time outside
Or you have anxiety that's set off by crowds, or by waiting in lines in huge busy rooms
Or you have another disability that makes "wait in lines in a crowd to check in" a hardship
Or you want access to a washing machine
Or you need quiet that can't happen if you're next to a freeway

... there are a whole lot of reasons people us Airbnb instead of hotels, and while "it's cheaper" may be the most common, it's also filling several niches that hotels don't and often can't. Actual bread-and-breakfast places might, and a lot of cities should look into adjusting their zoning laws to meet that demand.

The asshole "hosts" who seem most outraged at the change, also seem to be the ones who just want to rake in hotel money without facing hotel regulations, though.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:15 AM on March 25 [14 favorites]


I only stay in motels, hotels and actual bed and breakfasts, not AirBnB, and I have no problem finding places with those except possibly the first; I've never had to look for a wheelchair bathtub. Some of them are quite ridiculous - do you think that m/h/bnbs only exist next to freeways? Most chains do electronic keys on your phone and you don't even have to see the front desk, much less stand in line.
posted by tavella at 10:39 AM on March 25 [4 favorites]


Yeah I distinctly remember washing my own clothes at a Days Inn, which was/is rather on the low end price wise. They had an Ice machine too.
posted by some loser at 10:44 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


For a moment I mistook the 64% increase in rental stock to signify that Airbnb dominated the rental market in Dublin, which kind of shocked me, particularly because I'm no fan of Airbnb. But after reading the Irish Examiner piece I'm relieved that's not the case:

Half of the Dublin increase is concentrated in the most in-demand property type and area for the short-term rental market — one- and two-bedroom properties in the city centre. [...] This sector of the capital’s market has seen a 64% increase in listings since the start of the month, with 396 rental ads, compared to 242 in the same period last year.

So compared to last year, 154 listings were added for the "most in-demand type & area", which is ~15% of what would be needed to drive rental costs down (1000 homes a month). Certainly significant but hardly dominant, and only for the most in-demand segment.
posted by dmh at 10:52 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


These companies fundamentally believe that they should not be regulated whatsoever.

and we should fucking crush them like a flea. crush crush crush.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:55 AM on March 25 [13 favorites]


i am crushing your business model

i crush you

posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 11:04 AM on March 25 [16 favorites]


do you think that m/h/bnbs only exist next to freeways

No, but I think BNB's are unavailable in many areas where Airbnb has taken off. (Not necessarily even the majority. But they're not common in dense urban areas.) I looked for B&Bs in Alameda, CA - Yelp finds a handful of listings but most of them seem to be gone. But there are 300+ listings on Airbnb. (Most of which are likely "nearby area, not necessarily Alameda itself." That's still a lot more than the actual B&Bs listed nearby.)

And you can't search Travelocity for "hotel not near freeway noises."

I think most travelers could find a B&B that works for them, especially if they're deciding where to travel based on what's available. If they're traveling to attend a wedding or graduation, they're stuck with whatever's in the local area, and Airbnb has provided a range of options that hotels may not cover.

...And of course, they've done it by ignoring a whole bunch of laws, allowing scams, and foisting all the liability off onto hosts and guests. I'm not in favor of the company, just pointing out that part of why it's successful is that it's filling a niche that traditional hotel services can't, and B&Bs often don't, often for entirely practical reasons.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:04 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


we can have a little revolution, as a treat
posted by poffin boffin at 11:05 AM on March 25 [4 favorites]


If it’s California, an eviction takes 6+ months

This is an exaggeration under most circumstances, before anyone take it as fact.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:39 PM on March 25


I think Airbnb should probably be restricted to spare rooms in houses the hosts live in. If you want to rent out a whole apartment, get planning approval for hotel facilities.

Of course, there is the area of people wanting to rent the flat they live in out for the 3 months they're working on an oil rig in Dubai or lounging around the French Riviera or whatever, though given how easily that is exploited by professional Airbnb scammers, the least-worst course may be to close that off.

Scammers being adaptable, and there being services that will scale scams up to massively parasitic levels for a cut of the takings, there'd have to be a robust regime of inspections, with considerable resources. That would have to be paid for with a swingeing tax on Airbnbs, which, assuming that a spare room in a central area provides value, should be bearable by the market.
posted by acb at 5:05 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


Yes, I don't think many object to the idea of what AirBnB originally purported to be. Even if a small number of units ended up being full-time short term rentals it wouldn't screw over residents and if a large family in need of an apartment for a couple of weeks stays in someone's apartment while they are traveling or whatever, that's great for everyone (assuming local laws and regulations are being followed).

Unfortunate that the relentless search for VC money and the VC's relentless search for companies to fund has made it so that success is defined as scaling to a size far beyond reason so the VCs can cash out in a manner strangely reminiscent of a pump and dump fraud rather than creating a sustainable business that will generate profit in the long run by providing service in a way that is sustainable for everyone.
posted by wierdo at 5:36 PM on March 25 [8 favorites]


I'm not in favor of the company, just pointing out that part of why it's successful is that it's filling a niche that traditional hotel services can't, and B&Bs often don't, often for entirely practical reasons.

Ya, it's amazing the amenities you can provide for cheap if you aren't bound by zoning, employment, tax, health and safety, fire, ADA, parking or rental law.
posted by Mitheral at 7:17 PM on March 25 [21 favorites]


âš«wifi
âš«vibes
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:42 PM on March 25


It's not zoning and employment laws that prevent hotels from offering rooms that are split between "sleep space" and "meet/work/play space" - it's that the majority of hotel guests don't care about that distinction, and it's an extra expense and hassle to maintain multiple types of rooms. It's not health codes that prevent hotels from setting up in suburban communities; it's that they can fill 300 rooms half a mile from an airport, and maybe 10 rooms at a time next to a residential block in a small town. It's not ADA or parking laws preventing them from offering compact three-bedroom suites suitable for two families and kids traveling together; it's that, again, it's a niche use and they've decided that niche isn't profitable enough to make comfortable. It's not fire codes or tax law that prevent them from offering themed artwork and an array of books to read; it's that they want the decor to be as generic as possible so as to offend as few as possible guests.

Airbnb seems to serve three main demographics:
* I want a hotel room as cheap as possible - in which case, dodging all the zoning etc. laws is how Airbnb works
* I want to stay somewhere comfortable - might be okay at a hotel, but they'd rather opt for the amenities of a real house
* I am part of a niche group that hotels only grudgingly serve, and usually badly - Airbnb is a godsend, at least when it's not a scam that makes things worse.

The first group is almost certainly the largest, and they're what's inspiring the landlord shenanigans and zoning violations. I'm all for stomping that out. But the other two groups are also real, and I'd like the long-term solutions to find ways for them to continue being able to travel in comfort.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:01 AM on March 26 [4 favorites]


A relatively minor but still fucked up thing about all this:
AirBnB's policy says that whether cancellations are allowed in case of an epidemic will be "determined based on announcements by the World Health Organization and local authorities." As AirBnB's coronavirus announcement clearly states, the WHO declared an epidemic on March 11, but they're only covering cancellations for reservations starting March 14 - leaving some number of people who needed to cancel reservations starting before March 14 for legitimately coronavirus-related reasons SOL. My sister was supposed to check into an AirBnb on March 12, along with her husband, her toddler, and her babysitter (on a vacation she had planned as a gift to her husband for a big milestone birthday), but she found out on March 11 (same day as the WHO announcement) that her babysitter had been exposed several days earlier (meaning that my sister and her family had potentially been exposed as well). She immediately contacted the host to cancel - no response. She contacted the host again and asked if she could reschedule for a future date - no response. She contacted the host again and asked if she could pay for this stay but book a future date at a discounted rate - no response. So she contacted AirBnb, and they said, well, your check-in date was March 12, so it's not our problem. So, apparently AirBnb would rather have a policy that incentivizes my sister and three other people, at least one of whom was definitely exposed, to have traveled from NYC to Utah (obviously she didn't, but some people might have) on March 12 when there was very obviously a serious crisis than....not do that.

Obviously it's an enormous privilege to be able to afford a vacation at all, to be able to afford to bring your babysitter along on your vacation (and yes she is still paying her babysitter), to be already thinking about rescheduling your vacation, etc. but still, the policy seems a bit unreasonable.
posted by naoko at 8:41 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


AirBnB has announced they are going to try and host 100,000 healthcare providers, relief workers, and first responders. (AirBnB blog / press release)
Hosts can opt into the program and have the option of opening their homes for free through Airbnb’s Open Homes platform, created in 2012 to meet the needs of people requiring emergency housing. If hosts are not able to host for free, Airbnb will still waive all fees on the stay.
So it looks like they are asking hosts to host for free or low cost, and they are seeking donations, which if I understand it, go to the partner organizations who can then use that to pay for AirBnB housing. They are waiving AirBnB's fee for the stay - but of course AirBnB is using this to try and keep some hosts on the AirBnB network - and there is no information that I could see that AirBnB is itself donating any money to the effort - other than foregoing its fees.

I mean I'm glad hosts can offer their homes for free or low cost for first responders, but this seems like the absolute minimum amount of effort/cost AirBnB could get away with given the global situation. And not sure how many hosts will offer up for free given there are real costs in hosting (including presumably deep cleaning after each stay given the COVID situation, use of supplies by guests in the home, etc)
posted by inflatablekiwi at 10:47 AM on March 26 [4 favorites]


It's not zoning and employment laws that prevent hotels from offering rooms that are split between "sleep space" and "meet/work/play space" - it's that the majority of hotel guests don't care about that distinction, and it's an extra expense and hassle to maintain multiple types of rooms.

Laws don't prevent those amenities but not following those laws frees up money that can be used to provide the extra space while still offering a sellable rate.

And one of the touted advantages of ABNB (that they aren't located in noisy areas) is directly controlled by zoning. Every ABNB in a residential, quiet, neighbourhood is a big ol' middle finger to the residents of that area that don't want a hotel next door/in their building.
posted by Mitheral at 3:13 PM on March 26 [6 favorites]


That's not really a fair comparison though. The impact of having a single guest (or guest family) next door is not the same as the impact of having 150. People have taken in boarders in their homes for 150 years, and the impact is about the same.
posted by msalt at 4:03 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


Not if that boarder is the only one living there, or lives in a separately-serviced part of the house; at that point, you've got either a short-term rental property or a secondary suite, which are both, again, regulated.

There's not nearly the sort of accountability that the typical "lodger" situation. Plus, most of those situations aren't a rotating cast of characters over 100% of the year.
posted by sagc at 4:28 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


People have taken in boarders in their homes for 150 years, and the impact is about the same.

Yeah, AirBnB and taking in a border have the same impact.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:51 PM on March 26 [3 favorites]


The impact of having a single guest (or guest family) next door is not the same as the impact of having 150.

Have you spoken with anyone who lives next door to a full-time AirBNB property? According to the people I know who do, there's not much difference between "one group of dipshits making noise and trashing the neighborhood" and "multiple groups of dipshits making noise and trashing the neighborhood".
posted by Lexica at 7:14 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]


in my old building in the w vill i lived across the hall from a studio that was a weekly airbnb nightmare, people coming and going at all hours, having parties, being loud stupid assholes, breaking the machines in the laundry room, smoking in the hallways, puking in the elevators, all kinds of stupid annoying shit that people do when they don't give a fuck about anyone but themselves. the actual occupant was around like once a month and when i was like "what the FUCK bro" he was just like lol eat me bitch. i declined.

and it was this huge obnoxious moral quandary for me personally! for months! it was a nightmare!

see, that studio had been rent controlled for like 10,000 years and the landlords finally got rid of the weird, kind of grubby, but generally quiet and unproblematic elderly guy who lived there, who was probably paying something like $200 a month or so. (me, across the hall, paying 3500 for a 2br: sob) so why tf would i want to do the landlords a favour? but in the end it would've been doing MYSELF the favour of not having to deal with loud entitled weekly assholes. a few months later there was a huge spate of robberies in the building and every last long-held airbnb-related resentment secret was dramatically revealed by multiple furious people all yelling at once; the subletting shitbag got the boot along with a few others; and a nice malaysian guy rented the place across from me as a pied-a-terre for his twice monthly international commute from singapore.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:40 PM on March 26 [7 favorites]


A historic building down the street was renovated - after a large amount of discussion about historic standards. It was refurbished as a multi-family unit and, after a long period of time, was put on the market for renting the units.

The units are empty 97% of the time.

They are furnished. They are nice. They are at ground level and I see that they are unoccupied as I walk my dog by them at least twice a day. Two of the units have a keycode lock on them. In none of the units have I ever seen the same faces show up for more than a week.

That's one building. There are a dozen others that are doing the same in my neighborhood on my dog walking route.

The rents are too damn high.
posted by ryoshu at 10:33 PM on March 26 [9 favorites]


Have you spoken with anyone who lives next door to a full-time AirBNB property?

I live in Portland, Oregon, where it's illegal to do an Airbnb if you don't live in the building and you're limited to 2 rooms unless you apply for a conditional use permits with a hearing, notice to neighbors, etc. And frankly that's the only way Airbnb should be allowed. I think we all agree that Airbnb-only places are evil and bad.

But I've stayed in a number of Airbnb places around the country, and I've only seen one that's likely that. 7 of 8 have been rooms in someone's house, who is actually there.
posted by msalt at 7:39 PM on March 27


I had canceled my London Airbnb when I saw it was not gonna be a good time to go. (Would have left March 20. I canceled early March. Flights were finally canceled from where I was to UK March 15)

I was eventually able to get a full refund bc I could show that my flights were canceled so I wouldn’t have been able to go even if I hadn’t canceled. They refunded the half I had paid and gave me a credit for the service fee, which is fine w me.

Wouldn’t hurt to ask. Took a while to hear back but hey whatever not like I’m going anywhere.
posted by affectionateborg at 1:30 AM on March 28


Living in a building with a douchebag for a neighbor, while irritating, isn't the same thing as living next to an unsupervised hotel with a series of people coming and going on the other side of the wall, or down the hall, or puking in the elevator, or setting the place on fire, or throwing furniture off the balcony, or running drug deals/brothels/unlicensed nightclubs/meth labs.

People do all kinds of shit in hotels, and this is why hoteliers have innumerable funny/tragic stories about wackdoodle stuff they've had to deal with. It's also why hotels over a certain size have security and front desk clerks that you can call when the tweaking couple in the room next door decide to murder each other in the hallway.

I've stopped using Airbnb. Every freaking time it's been uncomfortable: I've been asked to sneak around behind the landlord's back or the condo management's back. I've never had a hotel ask me to not say anything about the sewage backup in the bathroom or to discard and re-set the mousetraps.

I have been joyously, richly delighting in the flaming wreckage that is the "take a 1500 dollar a month bachelor and get 5,000 a month for it" business model in the time of Coronavirus. I hope it all crumbles into dust like the vampire it is.
posted by jrochest at 3:08 PM on March 29 [9 favorites]


They are getting a $250 million bailout thats somewhere around $350 per host.
posted by Lanark at 8:10 AM on March 31


To be clear, "they" in Lanark's comment means AirBnb hosts, who are being reimbursed for cancellations by the company. It's not a bailout of the company by the government.

jrochest: "I've stopped using Airbnb. Every freaking time it's been uncomfortable: I've been asked to sneak around behind the landlord's back or the condo management's back."

Did you not read the descriptions, or email hosts, before booking? There's lots of information in every listing like, do they live on the premises, is it a room in a shared living space or a separate unit, check-in procedures, etc. Maybe the reason I've avoided problems like that is that I look for people renting rooms in their own houses, email them with questions, etc.
posted by msalt at 1:01 AM on April 4


Did you not read the descriptions, or email hosts, before booking? There's lots of information in every listing like, do they live on the premises, is it a room in a shared living space or a separate unit, check-in procedures, etc. Maybe the reason I've avoided problems like that is that I look for people renting rooms in their own houses, email them with questions, etc.

It should not be on the end user to do research to avoid sketchy hosts - Airbnb should be proactively removing such hosts from their systems to protect users. As I've pointed out in other threads, there seems to be a regular push by the tech industry to privatize problems that should be handled in a communal/societal manner, and this needs to stop. There's a point where "oh, you should have been more diligent" turns to victim blaming.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:14 AM on April 4 [5 favorites]


msalt, both the hosts and the platform lie. This is done by design, since it's where the money comes from.

For the guest, there's no way to tell a sketchy host from a good one from the listing, since sketchy hosts lie; there's no way to be sure you'll get the property you booked, or even if that property actually exists; there's no way to force the host to reveal serious defects (the unit upstairs is being renovated; there's a nightclub downstairs); there's no way to be sure that the unit is legal and approved by the board/landlord (you get a text telling you to let yourself in via a fire door and only exit through the parking garage); there's no way to ensure you'll not be charged 150.00 a night in extra fees (this is the platform's equivalent of 'surge pricing').

At worst, these problems are outright scams, like guests getting texts as they arrive, directing them from the property they booked to a different, much shittier, one. This happens often enough for it to be standard business practice for some places. There's also no way to rectify things; you take the place with the backed up toilet or the broken locks or no power, or you pay for another place at a moment's notice and the platform still keeps your money. Saying that you can complain -- via review or to the company -- doesn't solve the problem, since what you need, standing there with your wheelie suitcase, is a place to stay.

On every scale, the site is set up as a series of lies masquerading as convenient fictions, and this is caustic all the way down. Corporate owners with 25-100 units, each presented as 'the home' of a lovely, but purely fictional 'host couple' are the norm, not the exception. Virtually all urban rentals are illegal, but the platform can't be charged so it ignores this. Tenant hosts, some of whom rent multiple units to put on the platform, lie to their landlords. Landlords, who want to quadruple the rents on their apartments, lie to the tenants they evict, and to the city. Condo owners lie to often complicit condo boards, so long term tenants are driven out by parties and disruption, and resident owners, who can't move, have to deal with the party units AND get to watch their property values tunnel into the earth. Neighbors in residential areas get to deal with a stream of unsupervised hotel guests -- or pop-up weddings or album launches or birthday parties -- across the street or next door. Cities lose the taxes that would be paid by hotels and rental venues, and get to spend extra money on policing and services in residential neighborhoods that they've not allocated for.

Mifi has had arguments about Airbnb over and over again; the point of my original post was that the platform is a ratfuck for everyone, from the bottom to the top, and that the only people who benefit, usually, are the 'hosts', who are gaming housing for short-term profit, and the platform.

I am utterly delighted to watch it burn.
posted by jrochest at 11:29 AM on April 5 [7 favorites]


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