Short-term rentals like Airbnb have been one of the most lucrative businesses in the past 5 years due to its convenience and flexibility. However, a lot of big cities have seen a major spike in the numbers of illegal Airbnb’s in their area. A recent survey in January 2019 showed that Ottawa has around 3,000 illegal Airbnb listings, meaning that these rentals do not have any permits and do not pay taxes. According to one of the guests, once they book the listings that they desire, the host will send a private message containing a set of rules that are nowhere to be found on the website. For example, the host will ask the guest to avoid talking with any building staff, as well as asking them to pretend to be a resident, instead of a posing as an Airbnb guest. Apartments and condominiums are 2 of the most common places where these illegal Airbnb’s operate. The reason behind it is simply because it is very hard for anyone to track them down since apartments generally have a lot of units in it. Additionally, most of them are cheaply priced and people are willing to take that risk by staying at these illegal and unregistered rentals. The consequences of these actions are massive to people who live in the neighborhood where these illegal listings take place, especially when used for events and parties.
Government officials, especially in a major city or state should consider this as a serious problem and find the most effective method to deal with it. In order for a city to minimize the number of illegal Airbnb’s, the government should work together with the citizen, as well as potential Airbnb hosts and guests. Citizens should be welcomed any time to file any complaint if they suspect that there might be an illegal Airbnb in their neighborhood. Furthermore, the government should also consider putting strict regulations in place, such as large number of fines to those who host illegal Airbnb’s. In New York, hosts can be fined up to $7500 for every illegal listing that they have (https://www.2ndaddress.com/research/short-term-rental-laws/). It is important for cities to make sure that the cost of hosting an illegal Airbnb exceeds the benefits of hosting one.
Other than fines, there are also some other alternatives that cities and counties could consider in order to deal with illegal Airbnb’s. These alternatives include banning suspicious short-term rentals, i.e., rentals that are booked for a very short period of time. People who rent Airbnb for 2-3 days normally have a larger possibility of hosting a party or other events that might disturb neighbours in that area. However, generally speaking, these Airbnb rentals being used for parties are not too hard for officials to track down. The real challenge that most big cities face in terms of Airbnb are those rentals that go hidden and undetected. Individuals who own these listings will normally put up their listings outside of working hours to go undiscovered.
In conclusion, illegal Airbnb’s has been and will always be one of the biggest problems to cities and counties due to its difficulty in being detected as well as the severity caused. Government officials have struggled in finding the most effective method to stop illegal Airbnb’s from operating in the area. They can only do so much when people in that area do not show enough support in helping to minimize illegal Airbnb’s. This is why Harmari can prove to be very helpful in these situations due to the 95% accuracy of houses and a 24/7 hotline service that we provide. Ultimately, undetected listings could pose a massive problem if not dealt with comprehensively.