Airbnb sees push-back from major cities

One by one, U.S. cities are determining the validity of Airbnb as a service. Raleigh, N.C., is not punishing Airbnb hosts yet, but some members of the city's council have already cited one host for selling a stay at their home.

According to the News Observer, Raleigh city councilman Russ Stephenson stated that short-term renting is still forbidden in many neighborhoods of the city, but Stephenson and city attorney Thomas McCormick are at odds on deciding how this message should be delivered.

“We should go out on Airbnb and notify all these people, and say, ‘Until we get this figured out, we want you to suspend these services that do not comply with the code,’” Stephenson told the News Observer. Meanwhile, McCormick said that the city traditionally waits for complaints before inspecting zoning violations, and the city has received only one Airbnb complaint.

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Los Angeles is also considering regulating Airbnb and other short-term rental options, introducing a motion to examine regulations on these rentals that were passed in San Francisco, Portland, Ore. The motion also asks that new regulations allow the city to collect transient occupancy taxes, which are paid by traditional hotels. Airbnb will attempt to work with the city on future regulations.

"Commercial ventures have purchased large numbers of rental units or even entire apartment buildings and converted them into de facto hotels, reducing and threatening the city’s stock of rental housing and affordable housing, and that is wrong,” Councilman Mike Bonin, who introduced the motion along with Councilman Herb Wesson, told the Los Angeles Times.

San Francisco's own "Airbnb Law" goes into effect Feb. 1, but opponents of the service are already pushing for tougher regulations. Airbnb began collecting a 14 percent hotel tax for San Francisco starting Oct. 1.

Airbnb has also seen competition popping up in forms of similar services. One new company is Roomer, which seeks to offer a way for travelers to re-sell their unwanted hotel rooms after booking. This allows guests to recoup costs while avoiding cancellation fees. According to TechCrunch, the company recently raised $5 million in funding.

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