By Donna Evans-Deyermond
Regulation of the local home share rental industry is inevitable and probably past due. In Europe, guests are charged a “city tax” upon arrival at their Airbnb or Homeaway rental.
In Mexico, there is a 16 percent “habitación” tax. European home share hosts are not only taxed, they are regulated to provide safety features such as detectors for smoke and carbon monoxide, fire extinguishers, first-aid kits and signs clearly showing where the exits are, should there be a fire.
For more than 12 years, my husband and I were hosts for up to three individual home share units: a home near Kissing Bridge, and a vacation house and casita in Mexico. Additionally, we almost exclusively use Airbnb and VRBO to rent accommodations when we travel.
In our experience, rentals do not live up to either webpage descriptions or the photos provided. If they aren’t furnished the way they are photographed, or are not fitted out with the basics (is a usable fry pan too much to ask for?), then you have to question if the owners have considered safety.
On one memorable occasion, my husband burned all the hair off of his legs and most of his eyebrows when a gas oven he was lighting exploded. We were relieved he only lost a little hair. He could easily have been hit in the head by one of the pot lids that flew off the stovetop in the explosion.
Renting on home share rental sites is not an easy way to make money if you want to do it right. When we were hosts, we worked hard to be sure we didn’t overlook any of the details, including safety measures.
Yes, home share rentals should be regulated and inspected, but fees should also be commensurate with potential income. On Airbnb’s website, prices of most local private units (no shared common area) range from $70 to $125 per night. Rooms with shared common spaces go from $28 to $95 per night.
As The Buffalo News reported, Buffalo’s proposal to charge registration fees of $75 to $150 per year is a reasonable request. Amherst’s proposal of $250 to $500 per year seems exorbitant, especially if the host is only getting $28 per night. There must be a way to fit the fees to the potential income of the property.
High, annually renewable registration fees appear to be a tactic to discourage the home share rental industry. That horse is already out of the barn. Let’s find a way to ensure the safety of guests, but give hosts the opportunity to make a decent income in return for their efforts.
Donna Evans-Deyermond, a public relations consultant and freelance writer, recently published a book on how to be successful in the home share rental business.