Should I betray my neighbors’ Airbnb? – 71Bait


Dear Sundog: For years, the house next to mine was rented by college kids and scumbags. This summer the owner evicted it and sold it to a Californian who turned it into an Airbnb. is this legal Should I report them? – Victims of the real estate boom

Dear Outfall: Like so much else on the internet, Airbnb promised the little guy opportunities by bringing buyers and sellers together in ways never before imagined. And it magically worked. Years ago, Sundog and Ladydog rented an Istanbul apartment on a steep cobblestone hill, where neighbors on the third floor lowered coins in a basket on a rope to a baker, who filled it with bread and pastries. The charm of it! We would never have set foot in this part of town if we had stayed in one of the thousands of boring, overpriced tourist trap hotels. We had a magical stay and our host was paid handsomely in US dollars. Everyone won, right?

Years later, the ethical implications of our beautiful journey have grown murky.

Just as Tinder spawns stalkers, Instagram cultivates crooks, Facebook spreads lies in ways that would have made Goebbels green with envy, and Twitter serves as Putin’s personal propaganda organ to peacefully win the New Cold War, Airbnb and VRBO are breaking new ground for Predators invented worsen the life of ordinary people.

While the victim of Amazon’s success might be your beloved indie bookstore and the loser of the streaming revolution might be that cool record store across the street, the carcasses Airbnb left behind might not be so obvious. Sundog doesn’t shed a tear for hotels, most of them are just boring rebrands of the same soulless cabins run by the big four: Wyndham, Marriott, Hilton, Holiday Inn. Rather, the collateral damage of Airbnb and VRBO’s short-term rental glut are quaint neighborhoods in once-affordable cities. I’m not talking about ski resorts that just wouldn’t exist without the pocket money of the rich, but real cities with ordinary people with no trust funds with jobs.

Fueled by historically low interest rates, the overall US housing market is up 17 percent last year, the sharpest rise since Zillow began collecting such data in 1996. Western cities have jumped much higher: Boise (46 percent), Austin (42 percent), Kalispell (41 percent), Bend (39 percent), Missoula (35 percent), Phoenix (32 percent), Spokane (31 percent) , Salt Lake City (28 percent), Tucson (28 percent), Reno (28 percent). This is being fueled in part by the zoom boom, with the pandemic sweeping thousands of wealthy people off shores to work remotely. It is also being driven by speculators who are bidding on houses above the market price with no intention of living in them, but to build a mini-hotel on a block of flats.

To randomly pick a city from this list, let’s take a look at Missoula, Montana, where for decades residents have stoically endured long, gloomy winters and short, smoky summers, an ordeal offset – depending on political leanings – by astounding property taxes that such build, eased or tightened virtue indicators such as roundabouts, pedestrian bridges and ice-covered bike lanes. Rents were cheap and people endured the sleet beside grunting stoves in uninsulated pre-war gingerbread houses, stabbing locally shot elk steaks and drinking strong ale.

Now, with the arrival of the Zoom boomers, the capitalist overlords have served up cauliflower in buttermilk and chimichurri microtacos and houseplant jungle tropicolsch with its notes of mango, passionfruit and guava. Homes that cost $350,000 in January 2020 are now selling for half a million. Working people have fled to nearby abandoned mill towns and Superfund sites. The rental vacancy rate is less than 1 percent; Meanwhile, planners estimate that a whopping 3 percent of homes are listed as short-term rentals, including listings like “Williamsburg, Missoula” and “BoHo Basement.”

And what do these tourists want to see in a city notorious for air pollution and college rapes? As Sundog scrolled through Airbnb reviews, he spotted at least one visitor raving about deer grazing on the road. In other words, people have buckets of money, and after two years in prison they’re so caged and insane they’re willing to burn it all on a trip to Montana to see garden pests trotting on pavement.

There are different types of Airbnb ownership, each with their own ethical concerns. The least intrusive of a neighborhood is the person who simply rents out a portion of their own home — a guest bedroom or mother-in-law’s unit. This is in keeping with the letter and spirit of Airbnb’s original mission, which was to “travel like a local”, provide tourists with a less commercial homestay experience, and provide income for wealthy/poor owners.

The second type is the owner who rents out his whole house and looks for other accommodation when guests arrive. Maybe they have another home or travel a lot. This can result in unsuspecting tourists wandering the streets, but has no real impact on property metrics. The house remains the property of the same person and it is an advantage if it is occupied during their absence.

The third type is insidious: the speculator who buys a house outright to convert it into nightly rental. There are numerous websites that explain how easy it is to do this, with steps as innocuous as “choose an attractive location” and “analysis of available properties” without such things as learning who lives there or preserving what makes the street desirable at all. This tactic has no moral justification; The old pimp-pusher slogan comes to mind: Buy for a nickel, sell for a dime. A business that enriches the owner while degrading the common good is unethical.

Luckily, ordinary citizens have a tool to fend off the ruthless sharks hoping to get rich by sucking the city’s soul dry: the government. Not even the most slavish Ayn Rand disciples give much breath to their right to run a saloon in their basement or a sex show in their garage. The zoning law forbids this. Forward-thinking cities like tiny Hermosa Beach, California had the backbone to ban short-term rentals in 2016. They’ve since allowed landlords with a business license to rent in business parks, and many larger cities have enacted similar laws that try to discourage the speculators. Los Angeles now requires owners to prove a house is their primary residence, limits rental nights to 120 nights per year, and requires owners to complete paperwork that’s only slightly less cumbersome than applying for a North Korean tourist visa .

Of course, the more complicated a law, the more difficult it is to enforce. That’s where you come in, Outfall. If someone runs an illegal hotel on your block, consider it your civic duty to report them to town. Tattling might not suit you. It feels bad And yet Airbnb and VRBO have developed technology so effective that governments have been stymied in trying to maintain affordable neighborhoods, and your individual actions are the best remedy.

You may find that your city has not taken any action to protect locals from the AirBnBastards. In this case, no law was violated and there is nothing to report. Working to protect your neighborhood isn’t a short call, it’s a long campaign. You must first go through the usual channels to pressure mayors, city councilors, and borough commissioners to pass legislation.

The right to affordable housing is not enshrined in any sacred document—the Constitution, Magna Carta, the Bible. However, if the communities realize it’s important, we can have it. We just have to fight.

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