Afternoon read: Airbnb in the North Country

Airbnb screen shot.

Airbnb screen shot.

I’ve been following this story about Airbnb, the online, short-term rental service.

Here’s the summary: Last week New York Attorney General Schneiderman has subpoenaed Airbnb for personal information on users in New York City, saying they’re breaking a 2010 law prohibiting people from renting places for less than 30 days. Airbnb has said in a statement that the subpoena is too broad, and they plan to fight it.

I think this is totally interesting, because it speaks to the challenge of regulation new peer-to-peer sharing services that can upset traditional industries.

I’ve only used Airbnb once, when my sister and I traveled to Montreal early this past summer. We had a nice stay — although it was around the time that a similar debate was taking place in Montreal. When we crossed the border into Canada and the agent asked us where we were staying, I mentioned we’d found a place on Airbnb. She told us that we probably shouldn’t use the service in future, as Montreal renters might get shut down.

It looks like the attorney general’s subpoena focuses on Airbnb users in New York City, especially those that might be running illegal hotels.

The Wall Street Journal writes this, citing an annonymous source:

The attorney general isn’t targeting vacationers or people who rent out their personal spaces for short periods. Instead, it is looking into people who might be trying to skirt New York’s laws by renting out multiple units or obtaining their primary residence through Airbnb for extended periods

But I’m still curious about what the repercussions of this ongoing legal drama are for other places — big cities around North America and New York’s small towns alike.

I checked out the Adirondacks and the St. Lawrence Valley on Airbnb, and it looks like there are lots of awesome places to stay: 277 search results for the Adirondacks, in fact. From what I can tell so far, homeowners, seasonal people, and established B&B proprietors are using the service.

I’m planning on digging into this more. I’m curious: do you rent out your space through Airbnb, or do you use it when you travel?

If you are an Airbnb user, what do you think about this?

Feel free to comment here or shoot me an email: [email protected].

1 Comment on “Afternoon read: Airbnb in the North Country”

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  1. @tourpro says:

    It’s only a problem because they are not paying occupancy taxes.

    Old-style distribution and marketing made it really hard for sellers to meet buyers, but internet has broken that model…. in many sectors.

    Traditional lodging takes advantage of economies of scale, but again, when you go direct to customer, these economies no longer exist – in fact, it may even be a disadvantage now.

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