The newest regulations in Santa Monica will not allow people to rent out their homes on Airbnb for periods shorter than 30 days, unless they are at home themselves in this time. This has generated quite the protest outbreak in the city and endless debate on the matter.
Airbnb and the temporary home rental situation might seem like an uncomplicated matter, but ever since this new ruling came out, a multitude of complex issues concerning it have been uncovered. The situation looks strikingly different from every angle you look at it.
Firstly, there are the people who earn quite an honest living from Airbnb, by renting out their homes from time to time when they go on visits and vacations.
Moreover, there are quite a few people who are managing to survive because of it. Elderly Santa Monica residents with slim pension plans are getting by precisely because of the supplementary income that renting out their home provides for them.
It is these people who are protesting in front of Santa Monica City Hall, because they are the ones in the greatest need that the decision to be overturned.
The new ruling also implies a 14% hotel tax that would go to the state for this type of rental. And to this, the people say that they are willing to pay the tax and even get a hotel license, but they feel that it is not fair that they be obligated to meet the same criteria as the big-time businesses in this field.
Furthermore, they point out the fact that the people who rent their homes make quite a lot of money for Santa Monica, as they end up spending serious amounts while on vacation. And this undoubtedly works for to the city’s advantage.
Secondly, there are the sizable businesses that are using Airbnb and similar websites as free promotion. What they do is create fictitious profiles for every property they want to rent out. And while this might seem inoffensive, the reality is that they are raising the prices for rentals in Santa Monica this way.
This particular aspect has been uncovered by policy analyst Roy Samaan who has conducted a study on recent activity on Airbnb. By analyzing the website’s data since October 2014, he revealed that up to one third of the revenue created by Airbnb goes to leasing and vacation businesses.
“When you have a tight rental market where we know that renters are being squeezed by prices, by availability, this really exacerbates those market forces.”, explained Samaan.
Samaan’s study was obviously met with considerable hostility by this type of companies, that are trying their best to defame the findings of the study. They were noticeably inflamed by the findings as they have stated that they have never admired Airbnb “as a corporate citizen”.
This is what the new ruling was initially meant to change. And while there are visible effects, it seems that the situation is not affecting the large companies too much, but instead creating a serious rumble among small-time leasers.
This is the message that the people are trying to convey through their protests. It remains to be seen how the Santa Monica officials weigh this complicated situation, as a lot of different issues lay in balance around it.
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