Wednesday, March 03, 2010

AirBnB

While Cam and I were traveling in Europe, we used Amanda's iPod Touch to look for places to stay.  In particular, an app named AirBnB.com introduced us to the possibilities of renting rooms in people's homes for a brief time, usually 1-3 nights, at rates far below hotels and guest houses.

We used the app a few times to try and find places to stay in Paris and Berlin, and once in Innsbruck.  None of the places we found in the app worked out for us, but that was because we didn't search far enough in advance, and because we didn't have a telephone or regular access to the wireless internet.

I just got an e-mail from AirBnB, looked them up on FaceBook, and went to the web site.  There are only two listings in the Keys, one a private room on Sugarloaf and the other a house in Key Colony Beach.  It might be a natural for Key West, but the transient rental laws preclude it.

3 comments:

Concerned Neighbor said...

It might be a natural for Key West, but you can be sure that, if the laws were "tweaked," some weasel would be creating a de-facto hotel, then going to court to preserve his "property rights."

I really hope this issue is settled, even though I no longer have a dog in that fight, just for the sake of those who wish merely to live in their houses, not maintain a business in an already crowded residential area.

Robert Kelly said...

I agree with you, neighbor, that the Transient Rental laws that apply here are good for full- and even part-time residents. We enjoy the relative quiet of Elizabeth St. and appreciate our little refuge back here.

There is, in my mind, a qualitative difference between unbridled transient rentals here and the kind of stay that an AirBnB guest might experience in our home or the home of a neighbor with a bit of extra room. But you're right about the weasels screwing it up for everyone and thus an idea to be avoided. It says something too about the qualities of some who rent transiently, the guests, I mean. Too a smaller extent it says something about some of those who rent to those guests.

I know from experience that regulating the behavior of paying guests in a place like KW is a very risky proposition, better to be avoided unless the owner and the rental manager both know what to expect. Even those who rent for >28 days (or is it 30?) can be unwelcome neighbors. They just get to annoy others for a longer time.

But just for the sake of looking from a different angle, let's say that I hear of someone who is looking for an opportunity to spend some time in Key West, not to crash the bars and come rolling in late and loud, but to learn more of the history, the culture and the recreational possibilities here. And suppose that I have room and time available to entertain such guests in my own home (I do not, by the way). And finally, let's allow that I know that it's illegal to rent space, even in my own home, for less than 30 days (or is it still 28?). So what I decide to do then is to invite these nice folks to come and stay with us at no charge. In return for our hospitality the visitors may show their appreciation by stocking our pantry and maybe even our bar for the duration of their stay. And they may offer to take us for a nice dinner at a good local restaurant, treat us to a show, buy our drinks when we show them our favorite music venues.

We and they both enjoy their visit, we've all enjoyed the conversations we had over dinners and at other times. By the time they leave, perhaps in two or three days, we've come to feel that they are like family or friends we already met before we thought of this new approach to meeting nice people and to also enjoy some of the finer things that we might not otherwise be able to afford.

It's strictly hypothetical, but would such arrangements constitute an illegal transient rental. If not, then would it at least be a violation of the spirit of the TR ordinance?

Just asking.

Concerned Neighbor said...

I would have to say that the situation as you have outlined would be stricto senso illegal, both by the letter and spirit of the law, in that you're still offering accomodations to the public with expectation of a quid pro quo.

On the other hand it's unlikely that anyone would object to legitimate guests staying in your home with you, and whatever sharing of expenses took place would be a private matter, especially if your guests were non-disruptive.

But I'm reminded of a lady who had a house on a quiet lane and was able to maintain the fiction that her seasonal short-term boarders were "roommates," but whose eventual departure evoked a collective neighborhood sigh of relief (if not outright rejoicing).

And then there was the older couple down on Dey Street who fussed for weeks over a trans-Atlantic cultural exchange similar to the one you posited, "The Brits are coming! The Brits are coming!"
I stopped by the week of the visit to see how things were going, and was told, "We kicked them out. After a couple of days we realized we couldn't stand them."

 
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