Why do humans criticize, hate, or fear the things they do not understand? It is in our nature to question and try to make sense of a situation that is foreign to our way of thinking. Our brains are designed this way. Simply, if it does not adhere to our ideals or beliefs, we struggle to accept it. History has shown us that being different causes problems on large and small scales. Pointing the finger at someone else is much easier than looking in the mirror to try and understand what makes you feel the way you do.
No one likes to be blamed for the wrongdoings of others. Making a person or company a scapegoat for others is what drives the hate and fear inside us. I want to tell you why Airbnb is not a scapegoat even though there are many people out there trying to make them one. We are going to be debunking short-term rental myths.
No one likes to be blamed for the wrongdoings of others.
If you follow Start An Airbnb you know that home-sharing should be fair and legal. I believe in fair home-sharing rules and enforcement of those rules from local municipalities. This allows for responsible short-term rental owners to continue to operate legally while local municipalities can pursue those who cause disturbances or do not operate legally. Thus, Airbnb works diligently with governments all over the world to resolve conflict and fear that cities and its residents may have about home-sharing. Creating legislation that is equitable for all sides. By doing so, Airbnb is able to debunk many of the myths that surround the company itself, home-sharing, and short-term renting in general.
MYTH #1 – Neighborhoods are being overrun by short-term rentals
If you look at the facts all around the world you will discover that short-term rentals actually make up an incredibly small percentage of an area’s total housing market. Nashville short-term rentals make up less than 1% of the housing market. There is also a 3% cap on the number of non-owner occupied short-term rental properties in each census tract where I live. This cap is in place to stop exactly what many people fear about being overrun by short-term rentals. Dozens and dozens of cities have implemented their own cap and regulations to combat this issue. This myth is not based on factual evidence and is easy to argue against because facts do not lie. Educate the people around you with what your local government is doing. Help them understand what is really going on.
MYTH #2 – Short-term rentals are party homes
When you think of a “party home” what comes to mind? Large groups of people causing a disturbance in the middle of the night? Nuisance reports from fellow neighbors because of trash in the yard or vehicles blocking mailboxes and driveways? Most people have a general stance on what constitutes a party. However, the fear that all short-term rental properties are “party homes” is simply not true. In fact, the number of nuisance and noise complaints about short-term rental properties is a fraction of city-wide filed complaints. Of course, cities vary in size and population, etc. But it can be estimated that in any given city only a very small amount of violations deal with short-term rental properties. They only account for 0.2% of all police and codes complaints combined in the Metro Nashville area. Rather, 99.8% of police and codes complaints have nothing to do with short-term rental properties.
Where does this stereotype come from? Well, like most stereotypes, there was one incident that snowballed into a generalization of an entire culture. There will always be a few who like to break the rules, which in turn usually ruins it for everyone following the rules. It is our job, the rule followers, to educate those who do not know the facts.
99.8% of police and codes complaints have nothing to do with short-term rental properties.
MYTH #3 – They are causing mass displacement of long-term and owner-occupied housing
Progress can be a fickle thing. Some see progress as positive and essential to a cities growth and well-being. Conversely, others see progress as a negative that will bring unwanted ideas and growth to their city. Keep it the way it is! Right? How many times have you seen a local restaurant go out of business only to see some chain company swoop in only to make a quick buck? We all have those feelings. It’s human nature to want to feel comfortable and safe where you live. Change can be hard. However, if we are to grow and create new ideas then progress is simply a part of that process.
Now, I acknowledge that there may be some Airbnb host’s operating outside of the system in their city. I do not condone this for one minute. Working hand in hand with your city officials and Airbnb is the only way to reach a mutual understanding.
In Nashville, non-owner occupied short-term rental properties represent 0.6% of the total housing units. Less than 1%! That is nowhere near a number to be considered “mass”. However, this word is thrown around loosely without real facts. The issue is not with short-term rental properties, it’s the growth city experiences that can cause displacement of long-term and owner-occupied housing.
Look at the top five cities around the world that have the most Airbnb listings:
- Paris, France – 78,000 listings (one Airbnb per 30 residents)
- London, England – 47,000 listings (one Airbnb per 200 residents)
- New York City, New York – 46,000 listings
- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – 33,000 listings
- Los Angeles, California – 26,000 listings
It should be the hope that cities and their citizens can come to an agreement that balances the concerns and needs of everyone in the community. Proper enforcement of “problem” homes’ is key. If you find a broken egg in a carton of eggs you do not throw away the carton. You throw away the broken egg. Airbnb should not be a scapegoat for the broken eggs. Because there are plenty more unbroken eggs doing a lot of good in the world.
If you find a broken egg in a carton of eggs you do not throw away the carton. You throw away the broken egg.
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