Airbnb is following Zillow and Apartments.com into the online rentals business — but with an important difference.
All apartments listed on Airbnb’s site have to be available for short-term sublets.
Sublets aren’t normally something that landlords embrace. They introduce uncertainty to the rental equation and raise the risk of property damage.
But Airbnb says it’s managed to get some of the country’s biggest landlords and property managers to play ball by offering them about 20% of booking revenue.
The new service clearly suits Airbnb’s interests. It adds more inventory to the site’s listings.
But think this through.
Landlords now have a potentially lucrative new revenue stream. But they’re also incentivized to raise rents to cover unknown costs.
And consider the U.S. healthcare system. What happens when middle men insert themselves between doctors and patients? Costs go up.
Airbnb isn’t a charity. They’re in this to make money. Who do you think ultimately pays for the convenience they offer?
Finally, spare a thought for other tenants of apartment buildings that feature Airbnb-listed short-term rentals.
They now face the prospect of strangers cycling in and out of neighboring units — just as homeowners face the same issue with Airbnb properties in their neighborhood.
Maybe I’m being unduly alarmist. Maybe the potential efficiencies offered by Airbnb apartment listings outweigh the possible hassles.
But I have an Airbnb party house in my neighborhood — even though such venues are ostensibly banned by the service.
I’ve spent more than a few weekend nights trying to sleep as the thump-thump-thump of dance music blares from down the street.
I’m not sure that’s progress.