Officials in New York have determined that Airbnb is illegal, despite efforts by the online firm to persuade the city otherwise. The law violated is the illegal hotel law, which prevents residents from renting out their property for less than 29 days. According to CNET, the law originally meant to prevent landlords from turning residential properties into hotels.
The ruling doesn’t necessarily mean all Airbnb hosts will be cracked down on, as the city only enforces the rule when a complaint is filed.
Airbnb is to waive its fees on all properties in the areas devastated by Sandy, after one of its homeowners offered up her rooms for free to victims of the disaster. The offer stands until November 7 and covers New York, the Hamptons, Providence, New Haven, and Atlantic City. It also urged its hosts to lower prices.
Today, Airbnb—which we recently named one of our 50 Most Innovative Companies—unveiled a completely redesigned version of its site that showcases these beautiful, high-res property images and emphasizes discovery. Visually intensive like Pinterest, and socially curated like a Spotify playlist, the designers behind Airbnb 2.0 hope its new aesthetic appeal and features—such as user wish-lists, staff and guest picks, thematic catalogues—will boost bookings on the 200,000 active listings the service has in 192 countries. “For the first time, we’ve shifted from being search-based to browse-based,” says Gebbia, who also serves as Airbnb’s chief product officer. “We’ve finally surfaced all this amazing content, which for the longest time was hidden behind search.”
When my reservation requests started to trail off, I got onto Airbnb to find dozens more hosts had popped up nearby, undercutting my nightly rate. Then I spotted something else: an Airbnb listing in a building nearby, hosted by a guy I recognized as my landlord’s right-hand man. My landlord had caught on. When I delivered my rent at the beginning of the next month, I found the management company’s office under construction. It’s now a hotel. The “loft-style” rooms are now listed on Airbnb for $169 a night.
On Monday, June 4, about 10 days before my co-founders and I planned to push our first product into the iTunes App Store, a stranger in a blue blazer served me with a restraining order filed by my landlord.
In 2010, Johna’s husband lost his battle with lung cancer. To make ends meet, she converted her home of 20 years into two separate units, and began renting one of them on Airbnb. The extra funds allowed Johna, who retired in September 2011, to keep her home without returning to full-time work. “It was my husband’s dream to use our property as a trade,” Johna says. “It has changed my life completely. I know my husband would have been proud of me.”
In 2008, Latasha discovered she had an enlarged thyroid. Even with insurance, the medical bill for treating the condition clocked in at about $6,000. “I funded my surgery through Airbnb hosting,” she says. Latasha also credits conversations with her guests with encouraging her to live a healthier life. “Knowing how super-fit I once was and seeing how healthy and active my guests were, the conversations I had were a real turning point for me.”
In 2007, Maria’s husband was murdered, leaving the unemployed nanny to raise and support their then-13-year-old daughter alone. “I was rather desperate and then one day I found Airbnb through one of those little ads on the side of the Facebook page,” she says. Within a week, she had her first guest. “I have to admit I was rather nervous about letting strangers into our home, but our first couple was really nice and so have all of the people we’ve had since.” The site has since become her primary source of income, and allowed her to make money while going back to school. “Airbnb has been a life-send for us. We couldn’t financially make it without it.”
After 30 years of marriage, Liz’s husband ended their relationship over email, leaving her to deal with a mortgage she couldn’t afford. At age 55, she decided to move to London, enrolled in acupuncture school, and discovered Airbnb. The extra income gave her the money she needed to pay her mortgage and start a new career.