Entrepreneurs are seeing mini-empires of Airbnb properties collapse

People who launched mini-empires of Airbnb rental properties are experiencing extreme financial hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, reports The Wall Street Journal. These are people who bought or leased residential property with the sole intention to list them on Airbnb. In March alone Airbnb lost $1.5 billion in canceled bookings.

From The Wall Street Journal:

Smaller players have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars each buying homes for short-term rentals. Jennifer Kelleher-Hazlett of Clawson, Mich., spent about $380,000 to buy two Michigan properties in 2018. She said she and her husband cashed out their financial investments and borrowed $100,000 from employers to furnish them.

The 47-year-old expected to net up to $7,000 a month from Airbnb after mortgage payments, supplementing her income as a part-time pharmacist and her husband’s as a schoolteacher. Before the virus struck, the couple was considering buying more homes. Now, they can’t make mortgage payments because no one is booking, she said. “We’re either borrowing more or defaulting.”

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash Read the rest

"I Stayed At The Cheapest Airbnb In NYC," just $30/night

Ryan Scribner and Jake Carlini stayed at the cheapest Airbnb in New York City. It was $30/night. Above is Ryan's video and below is Jake's documentation of the experience. The verdict: "It wasn't too bad!"

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Airbnb's easily gamed reputation system and poor customer service allow scammers to thrive

Vice's Allie Conti got scammed by an Airbnb host who promised her a really nice place, then made up a story about its toilets being clogged and shifted her to a derelict, filthy wreck of a house. When she tried to get her money back, she discovered that Airbnb had no effective systems for following up on the kind of scam she'd encountered, so she began digging. Read the rest

This-City's-Makin'-A-Comeback Bingo Card

Like a lot of people, I belong to a number of neighborhood-centric Facebook groups. While the general Jamaica Plain group is broadly fine, there's also a private, invite-only group for complaining about the general day-to-day absurdity of living in newly desirable neighborhood of any increasingly-expensive city.

And that's where I discovered this glorious work of art (which, as far as I can tell after a Tin Eye search, originated from the fittingly-named Humans of Late Capitalism Facebook page):

According to these standards, my beloved home in JP is actually in pretty good shape. Though we are the home of the original Sam Adams Brewery, we only have one other brewpub (so far). We're also (so far) safe from the axe-throwing bar trend, and at least Boston Logan is a pretty good airport. In lieu of cows, we have an albino squirrel and those god damn Brookline turkeys. But otherwise…well, shit. I'm pretty sure I am "Guy with stories about band/artist who made it."

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Owner of Phoenix apartment building serves eviction notices to every tenant so he can turn their homes into unlicensed hotel rooms

Like many large US cities, Phoenix has a housing shortage and like many US cities, that crisis is worsened by the conversion of much of its housing stock into unlicensed hotel rooms through companies like Airbnb, VRBO, and Wanderjaunt, a new competitor in the unlicensed hotel room industry. Read the rest

Spend a "bunderful" night in the Wienermobile through Airbnb

Hot dog! First, Hearst Castle made it possible for everyday folks to swim in their pools (as a fundraiser). Now, Oscar Mayer has turned one of their Wienermobiles into a rentable RV of sorts. AlexanDog + Jake N' Bacon, two Chicago area Hotdoggers (that's what the drivers of these iconic hot dogs on wheels are called), have listed their one-bedroom Wienermobile on Airbnb. And, starting on July 24, you can rent the darn thing for $136/night:

Housed inside an authentic Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, this cozy space for two is located in Chicagoland. Complete with a bed for dreaming of wienies, sitting area for discussing at length whether a hot dog is a sandwich (spoiler alert – it is!) and other amenities like adjacent outdoor spaces for the bathroom and a hot dog picnic zone, this hot dog paradise is the ideal respite for two music lovers in town for the festival weekend… or just those who relish a good story.

Amenities include a mini fridge stocked with Oscar Mayer hot dogs and all the Chicago-style hot dog essentials, an Oscar Mayer roller grill to take home, an outdoor space for comfortable hot dog eating and a custom Wienermobile art piece by local artist Laura Kiro. And to help you celebrate your love of hot dogs during your visit, each guest also will receive a welcome kit, complete with all the hot dog-inspired accessories you could want after a music-filled, festival day.

It sleeps two non-smoking adults (on a sofa bed) and breakfast is included. Read the rest

Airbnb guest uses network sniffer to find hidden webcam, Airbnb finds no wrongdoing

Airbnb has a hidden camera problem: Airbnb hosts keep getting caught using hidden webcams to spy on people staying in their unlicensed hotel-rooms, and while the company proclaims a zero tolerance policy for the practice, the reality is that the company tacitly tolerates Airbnb hosts who engage in this creepy, voyeuristic behavior. Read the rest

Regulating Airbnb drives down local rents (as well as house prices)

Airbnb has led to much of the rental housing stock in some of the world's most expensive cities being turned into unlicensed hotel rooms, driving up both rents and house prices even further. Read the rest

Dystopia watch: Guide to spotting hidden cameras in your Airbnb

If you're worried that your Airbnb host has hidden a camera in the place you've rented, because that is a thing that garbage people do, you can use these handy tips to spot it. Read the rest

Relying on a ridesharing gig to make money ain't what it used to be

Making a living as an Uber or Lyft driver can be tough. An over saturated market, having too few people in need of your services, paying to maintain your ride and the high cost of gas can all take a serious bite out of a driver's bottom line. Read the rest

Drunk NYPD cop shouted racial slurs at family after breaking into their home thinking it was his AirBnB

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After Airbnb hosts converted New York's available housing stock to unlicensed hotel rooms, rents soared

Airbnb hosts are supposed to be smallholders: people who rent out a spare room or let out their homes while they're out of town -- but in New York (and other cities), the system is dominated by professional landlords who have illegally converted huge swathes of the city's available housing stock into unlicensed, highly profitable hotel rooms. Read the rest

Berlin regulates Airbnb and safely deflates its housing bubble while returning 8,000 rentals to the market

Berlin is one of many European cities that have faced new housing crises -- or worsening existing ones -- attributed to Airbnb, where homes were converted to unlicensed, super-profitable hotel rooms, driving up housing prices, shrinking rental inventory, and making the city unaffordable for the people who lived and worked there. Read the rest

The Paradox of Tolerance: should intolerance be tolerated?

With the rise of white nationalist groups whose allies in government extend all the way to the President of the United States, tech companies are finding themselves in the uncomfortable position of deciding where tolerance begins and ends -- where they have a duty to step in and silence certain kinds of speech. Read the rest

Airbnb's preferred smart lock vendor accidentally bricks 500 door-locks

The $469 LockState RemoteLock 6i is a "smart lock" that is sold to Airbnb operators through a partnership with the company, allowing Airbnb hosts to generate and expire unique, per-tenant unlock codes. Read the rest

Hobbit house above Washington lake now available on Airbnb

Kristie Wolfe loved The Hobbit ever since seeing the cartoon as a child, so she decided to build a hobbit house in Washington State. This fun video shows the whole process, and it's even listed on Airbnb. Read the rest

Airbnb stealth-updates terms of service, says it's not an insurer and requires binding arbitration

The March 29 edition of Airbnb's terms of service requires that people who rent out their homes acknowledge that despite the company's widely advertised Host Protection Insurance program, "you understand and agree that Airbnb does not act as an insurer." Read the rest

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