Airbnb’s Illegal Hotels: Strangers, Sickness and Short-Term Rentals

Airbnb’s been upfront about its efforts to professionalize its hosts. Less so about its efforts to help commercial operators to snatch up available housing stock in cities.

Well, they’re at it again. And this time, they’re working with startups to help landlords turn vacant apartments into illegal hotels to game the system and make more money. And they’re operating for just long enough to avoid meeting hotel regulations.

Landlords love this deal because short-term guests pay up to 20% more than longer-term tenants. But would you want a revolving door of unaccountable strangers next door throwing out-of-control parties?

Us neither.

Running hotels without paying taxes or following regulations is illegal. These pseudo-hotels that operate outside the law hurt long-term tenants, take affordable housing stock from middle-class families and the elderly, and undermine communities and neighborhoods.

But that’s not all. There are also real dangers to guests who stay in these wannabe hotels. One guest who stayed in an unregulated Airbnb unit got toxic mold poisoning, which cost his family $19,000 in medical bills.

Airbnb doesn’t like to talk about the problems associated with illegal hotels using its platform, but the reality is clear: the practice is bad for communities and bad for guests.