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Society|Why You Should Think Twice Before Booking on Airbnb

In case you are planning an Airbnb trip: unregistered short-term rentals are banned in many areas in UK, Canada and USA, while the rest of the world are relying mainly on luck. In the UK’s case, an Airbnb host was sued by the real estate company for breaching the contract between them. A clause in their contract says the house is “for private residence” only, and the company sued her for renting rooms in the house to guests for just days or weeks. The company’s argument is that such rentals constitute private residence for neither the host nor the guests, and their neighbours’ life was disturbed. The court agreed with the company and decided that short-term rentals should not be allowed in such cases. Since such “for private residence only” clause is very common in real estate contracts, this case has virtually set a precedent for banning all short-term rentals on Airbnb in UK, and hosts who break this law can be punished with a large amount of fine, and even lose the ownership of their houses. Following the case in UK, in last year’s December, Canada’s court also gave a precedent-setting decision to ban such short-term rentals. Their considerations were even more close to the economic and social impacts of Airbnb than the United Kingdom’s. In cities like Toronto and Vancouver, where buying a house is almost impossible for young people, long-term rentals are vital to the stability of society. When an Airbnb host decides to put an apartment on the website for short-term rental, there will be one apartment fewer in the market for long-term rentals. Since the price of short-term rental is considerably higher, it is not surprising that many apartments are advertised as short-term rentals. In addition to the negative impact on the real estate market, driven by profits, hosts can choose to ignore the necessary measures for safety and may cause serious harm to their guests or neighbourhood. In its home country in the United States, Airbnb is still struggling to reach various agreements with State governments. It settled with the New York City last year to agree on the City’s punishing hosts for short-term rentals, using the constitution to defend its freedom of speech and to avoid reducing short-term listings on its website. But in this year’s case with San Francisco, Airbnb has essentially agreed to help the government to register its hosts, collecting data of hosts who rent their rooms for less than a month and sharing data with the government for registrations. In New Orleans and Chicago, Airbnb has reached similar agreements.