Airbnb cuts ties with vacation-rental firms in Los Angeles

Amid mounting pressure from housing advocates and community groups, Airbnb is cutting ties with some of its biggest money-makers.

Two of the home-sharing giant’s largest Los Angeles-area hosts — vacation-rental firms with dozens of apartments apiece — said Friday that Airbnb had dropped them from its site this week, canceling upcoming bookings and scrubbing their listings. A number of other large hosts in the region have also disappeared from the site. Read full article. 

California lawmakers want to regulate home-sharing businesses like Airbnb

Right now, McGuire said, the hosts who rent out rooms are supposed to register with their local governments and pay the transient occupancy tax. But many do not, says a fact sheet about his bill, creating “a severe under-registration of hosts and underpayment” of taxes. The bill also would uphold local bans on short-term vacation rentals by prohibiting online home-sharing companies from arranging agreements that violate a local ordinance. Read full article. 

Airbnb and other short-term rentals worsen housing shortage, critics say

The last time he advertised one of his apartments, longtime Los Feliz landlord Andre LaFlamme got a request he’d never seen before.

A man wanted to rent LaFlamme’s 245-square-foot bachelor unit with hardwood floors for $875 a month, then list it himself on Airbnb.

‘Thanks but no thanks,’ LaFlamme told the prospective tenant. ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’

But he understood why: More money might be made renting to tourists a few days at a time than to a local for 12 months or more. Read full article. 

The Nine Neighborhoods That Make All the Airbnb Money in LA

Residents in trendy neighborhoods like Venice and Silver Lake have been complaining about Airbnbs for years now—they say the company makes it too easy for landlords to illegally turn their rental units into hotel rooms, driving up rents and making residential neighborhoods into tourist zones (which is completely outlawed by Los Angeles zoning codes and the codes of most adjacent cities). Airbnb has alwaysrefused to release any exact information on its units, but now a study from the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy has dug up the facts and it’s more dramatic than anyone could have guessed: just nine LA neighborhoods account for 73 percent of the money Airbnb makes in the region. And rent in those neighborhoods is growing much faster than in other places. Read full article. 

Rent-stabilized tenant evicted after cashing in on Airbnb

This could help doom scores of Airbnb rentals.

A Manhattan Housing Court judge has ruled that rent-stabilized tenants can’t double-dip — or get a financial break and turn around and make money peddling their pads to tourists on websites such as Airbnb.

The ruling is the first to outright evict a tenant under rent controls without giving him a second chance, said Frank Ricci of the Rent Stabilization Association, which represents more than 25,000 landlords. Read full article. 

Silicon Valley’s Brave New Economic Order

Billionaires and wannabe billionaires tend to get disconnected. They don’t see the suffering under their noses,” Vivek Wadhwa said. “When you see beggars on the streets of Palo Alto, it’s not what you’d expect of the technology capital of the world. This could be India, or Bangladesh. Most of the billionaires just look beyond it. Read full article. 

A world-conquering start-up finds itself lost in translation in Tokyo

The more we talked with Miki, the more I wanted to go lie on her couch in front of her knickknack cabinet and wait for the next warm meal. My place, Ultimate Tokyo-Sized Experience!!, turned out to be clean and quiet (as advertised) but also strange and lonely. It was a spare, single bedroom, not more than eight feet wide, with a narrow foldout futon, a minifridge, minitelevision and minimicrowave and a flimsy door, behind which was a bathroom just big enough to fit a body. Like a lot of Airbnb listings, it was rented as “entire place” rather than “private room,” which meant no host was in residence. But in this case, I’m not sure any host was ever in residence. The listing was run by some sort of conglomerate or management company, and checking in involved no human interaction whatsoever. To get there, I carried my luggage up a neon-lit hill — past something called Hotel Fifteen Love, past places called Pub Slow Jam, Adult Shop Joyful and Baby Doll and a pet store that sold fluffed-up puppies and kittens and still somehow managed to look seedy — to the concrete apartment building where it was located. The door was unlocked. A key had been left inside. I had no idea where I’d landed. Read full article. 

Why Airbnb desperately wants to pay hotel taxes, and why some cities won’t let it

It’s hard to say whether letting Airbnb collect and remit hotel taxes would, in fact, put its hosts at increased personal risk. One fear is that if hosts began officially paying the occupancy tax, it would create a record with the Department of Finance that they had used their residence for a business purpose in violation of their lease. But it’s unclear whether Airbnb would itemize hosts’ names and addresses in its accounting, or provide a single return, as it has done in other cities, such as Portland, Oregon.

What is true, however, is that in cities where Airbnb has reached an agreement on tax collection, doing so has been a precursor to important legal reforms. In late October 2014, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee signed a law that legalized Airbnb-style home-sharing in the city—about a month after Airbnb began collecting and remitting hotel taxes. In Portland similar legislation was greenlighted in late July; Airbnb began collecting hotel taxes there at the start of that month. In San Jose avote in Decemberto levy the hotel tax on Airbnb guests also legalized the platform. Read full article. 

Los Angeles gives hosts, neighbors mixed signals on short-term rentals

Featuring Keep Neighborhoods First and member Jane Taguchi, who relentlessly fights the good fight. Keep it up Jane!

"In tourist meccas such as Venice Beach, annoyed residents say entire homes are being rented out nonstop to revolving groups of guests. Some residents say they fear that the phenomenon is becoming overly commercialized, exacerbating an affordable-housing crunch as apartments and homes that housed tenants are converted to vacation rentals.

'It's supposed to be a spare room — not corporate interests taking over our neighborhood and turning everything into a virtual hotel,' said Scott Plante, a Silver Lake resident. Read full article. 

Airbnb is infuriating the neighbors. Is it time for new rules?

On Airbnb, you and your pals find a cozy, clean one-bedroom apartment in a 12-unit Franklin Village co-op — a complex owned mostly by on-site residents — for $150 per night. Welcome to the "sharing economy," represented by services such as Airbnb in the private home/room rental business.

After your host, the apartment unit's owner, gives you the keys and a gate opener, you and your compatriots go drinking before rolling two rented minivans into your allocated space under the building. You drag your suitcases up the stairwell at 2 a.m. to be confronted by the irate homeowners association president. The neighbors are weary of tourists jarring them awake in a residential neighborhood.

They're even madder at the host, for turning their homes into a hotel. Read full article.