What’s The Worst That Could Happen?


“The New York State Senate has passed a bill that would make it illegal to advertise short-term rentals (less than 30 days) for entire homes on Airbnb.” (Techcrunch)

Who Cares?

First of all, why do we have laws against short-term rentals anyway? Other concepts of property law such as restrictive covenants on the size and look of a home or zoning restrictions on the type of businesses that can be in a certain area have a much more direct relationship to the impact one property owner will have on other nearby property owners. Conversely, the effects of short term rentals on other nearby property owners are minimal, having little aesthetic or property value impact.

I agree that having long-term residents with a vested interest in their neighborhood can be good for a community but that doesn’t mean that a certain amount of turnover has a meaningful negative impact on others nearby.

Whose Economic Rights Control?

Who cares about the distinction between “entire homes” versus other types of rentals like single or shared rooms?

Apparently some people are being pushed out of their existing housing as units are converted to short-term rental units. If this happened to me, I’d definitely be upset but this doesn’t mean that it is immoral – or should be illegal – for a landlord to do this. Although I see it as a very honorable thing to rent a home to a family, if you could make twice as much using the property for some other use it would be foolish not to.

Always Invert

One of the main arguments in favor of the new law is the idea of “leveling the playing field”. If hotels have to jump through hoops to operate, so should home owners.

From my experience across several Airbnb rentals the process works very well so this might be a sign that it isn’t Airbnb that needs to be regulated more, it is hotels that need to be regulated less. Why is it that when anyone speaks of “leveling the playing field” they always mean that we need more regulation? This tit-for-tat victim mentality may allow you to eke out a diminishingly viable business by stifling competition (and yourself in the process) but it will stand in the way of making true progress in moving your business forward.

Everyone understands the concept of ideas becoming laws, but it is much less common to conceive of laws becoming irrelevant. By inverting their thinking and not playing small-ball, the hotel industry might have better success in giving customers a great experience. The hotel industry may have won this battle, but if it wants to survive the war it needs to change how it plays the game.

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