AirBnb, A Weird New Phenomenon

I’m biased on this subject. I have to say that out front. For many years I owned two small condos in Vail and Beaver Creek which my agent leased out to skiers on a long-term AND a short term basis. The rents were the only thing that allowed me to financially own the two properties. And they were always available to my families during ski season and during the wonderful Vail summers.

Good experiences, and bad. I did get stuff stolen. I did have the two apartments trashed. In absolutely every case the damage was done by long-term tenants. The short-term tenants were respectful of my belongings and my interior improvements and they never cost me a penny in damage. Long-term tenants were a nightmare. They stole furniture, bed sheets, draperies, silverware, you name it.

So when AirBnb came along, providing homeowners with a way to provide housing for short-term guests I was all for it. ALL FOR IT! In my experience, temporary short-term guests were more respectful, more responsible, and they helped me pay for two condos I couldn’t otherwise have afforded. And during all those years of ownership, I never once got a complaint from management. AirBnb makes sure all clients submit references and they’re constantly monitored by the service to weed out travelers or homeowners who don’t follow the rules.

Oh, but those nasty HOAs are trying to put their fists where they don’t belong. A couple in Denver’s Baker neighborhood have hoisted a banner demanding an end to the AirBnb service. And the City of Boulder has issued a couple dozen cease and desist orders against homeowners who use AirBnb to lease out their homes.

Idiocy. Absolute idiocy. If my experience is any example, you definitely DON’T want to lease your home to long termers. Those travelers who stay there just a few days are the most respectful tenants you’ll ever meet.
But maybe that’s just me.

(link to Denver story on couple trying to stop AirBnb)


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Ward Lucas is a longtime investigative journalist and television news anchor. He has won more than 70 national and regional awards for Excellence in Journalism, Creative Writing and community involvement. His new book, "Neighbors At War: the Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association," is now available for purchase. In it, he discusses the American homeowners association movement, from its racist origins, to its transformation into a lucrative money machine for the nation's legal industry. From scams to outright violence to foreclosures and neighborhood collapses across the country, the reader will find this book enormously compelling and a necessary read for every homeowner. Knowledge is self-defense. No homeowner contemplating life in an HOA should neglect reading this book. No HOA board officer should overlook this examination of the pitfalls in HOA management. And no lawyer representing either side in an HOA dispute should gloss over what homeowners are saying or believing about the lawsuit industry.

3 thoughts on “AirBnb, A Weird New Phenomenon

  1. Deborah Goonan

    OK, Ward, I’ll bite. Here’s another perspective on AirBnB.

    As you know, I live in Florida. Florida draws all kinds of tourists and visitors from all around the world. But these are not affluent skiers. For example, in Daytona Beach area, where I live, the biggest events are NACSAR races, Bike Week and Biketoberfest. (as in motorcycles) Some of these tourists are respectful, and some are certainly not. They hail from many different backgrounds, but most tend not to be refined or sophistocated. For many NASCAR fans, their idea of entertainment is to start drinking beer at 10 AM and party late into the wee hours. Wet tee-shirt contests and bkini bike washes are all the rage with the Biker crowd, who rev their motorcyles late into the night, and tie up traffic all over town.

    In South Florida and the Gulf Coast, Spring Breakers are a huge problem for weeks on end. Don’t even THINK of going to the beach during that time. And then there’s Orlando, theme park heaven. Casinos draw some rather diverse tourists, too. We get all kinds of interesting tourist groups and convention-goers! Use your imagination.

    That said, it depends on the nature of the community. In a resort-style condo or villa setting, where properties are owned primarily as vacation properties and investments, I think AirBnB makes a lot of sense.

    But in a residential housing development, where most folks have to get up for work in the morning, or where there are children living in many of the homes that parents do not want exposed to adult-only, often unsavory behavior, I think AirBnB is inappropriate. I would be in favor of the 30-day minimum lease as a full-time resident.

    Also, the hotel and bed and breakfast owners aren’t fond of AirBnB, because, while THEY have to pay a “bed tax” that is paid to the local city or county, the AirBnB-ers avoid that.

    As for being able to hear “activity” in the neighboring unit, that is a matter of poor construction, in my opinion. A lot of noise transmission could be prevented if builders spent a few extra bucks to use the right materials to insulate and absorb sound transmission. I don’t think anyone can conclude that noise transmission will stop even if AirBnB is prohibited.

    1. Ward Lucas Post author

      Hi Deborah. I accept all you’ve said. But my major point is that AirBnB screens tenants. If you mess up once you can never use the service again. There’s no question that first time users can be losers. But I’d far rather have a screening service handling rentals of my properties. In fact, that’s what I use right now for several properties and they’ve saved me a fortune in screening out rotten tenants.

  2. Nila Ridings

    I think both Deborah and Ward have valid points.

    However, no matter how much screening is done and how good the person checks out to be when alcohol or drugs are involved the nicest of people can be totally destructive of property.

    I’ve witnessed the very best of room renting while at the AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Homeowners in the small community of Oshkosh pack their bags and rent their homes to pilots and other aviation enthusiasts for a week. I’ve never heard any complaints. Homeowners were making enough to pay their annual property taxes in one week.

    The aviation industry is unique in that those who work in the industry have had extensive background checks. Those who are private pilots generally have a reputation for being respectable people and most are homeowners themselves.

    Without the welcoming arms of the homeowners of Oshkosh, it would be very difficult for many to attend that show because they fly in and there is limited ground transportation available. For the most part, it’s easy to catch a ride to a house when it’s time to sleep. Thousands “pitch at tent” under the wings of their flying machines. I’ve never seen anybody intoxicated or obnoxious. When it’s over the airfield is perfectly clean.

    It boils down to respect for others. Some have it and others severely lack it. If I had a home in Oshkosh, I’d rent rooms or the entire house. If I had one in Sturgis, South Dakota, I would hope to find a biker that was also a pilot because many who fly also ride.


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