Airbnb Founder Proposes Tax, Neighbor Hotline

by UrbanTurf Staff

Airbnb Founder Proposes Tax, Neighbor Hotline: Figure 1
An Airbnb rental in DC.

Several months ago, a court ruling came in the case of Nigel Warren, a man who had been renting out his bedroom in a New York City apartment to Airbnb users. The city caught wind of it, and charged Warren with breaking the law.

Specifically, the city deemed that it was illegal for Warren to rent out portions of his home for short periods while he wasn’t living there at the same time. Warren was fined $2,400, but the much larger effect of the ruling was that it made Airbnb essentially illegal in New York.

Recently, that ruling was overturned, largely on the basis that Warren’s roommate was living in the apartment during the time that it was also being rented out via Airbnb.

The short-term rental website is happy with the reversal, but is also making strides to get in the good graces of cities like New York. In a blog post Thursday, co-founder Brian Chesky proposed a few new measures.

The first would be the introduction of an occupancy tax that Airbnb hosts would be required to pay, a measure that Airbnb would help streamline. Chesky noted that there would be “limited exemptions” for hosts earning below a certain income level. The second would be the creation of a hotline that neighbors could call in the event that Airbnb tenants get unruly. “We are eager to work with New York to remove bad actors in our community that are causing a disturbance to their neighbors, and will create a 24/7 Neighbor Hotline where we will service the complaints,” Chesky wrote.

It will be interesting to see if these measures move forward and whether or not they become standard in other cities where Airbnb operates.

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This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/airbnb_founder_proposes_tax_neighbor_hotline/7648


  1. Brian said at 8:34 pm on Thursday October 3, 2013:
    It is great to seen Airbnb start to take some responsibility for their business. New York is far from the only city where lodging is regulated and taxed, yet they continually hide behind a veil of "not our responsibility to know or accommodate all regulations". Here in Washington, properties have several requirements to operate legally, one of which is the collection of lodging taxes. I have tried to be a member of Airbnb, however they do not provide an acceptable method of collecting taxes. Their solution is to simply add the taxes into the total nightly charge. In DC this means they (Airbnb)would then collect their commission; 3% charged to the operator, and 6-12% charged to the booking guest on an xtra 14.5% in taxes meant to go to the city. I believe this is unethical, if not outright illegal. They do provide a method of collecting extra money over the nightly rate for a security deposit, cleaning fee, or extra guests, but refuse to add "required taxes" to their system. In Washington DC there are more than 2080 properties listed on Airbnb. Assuming all of these properties have properly registered and licensed with the city, how are they supposed to property collect the required taxes? Adding it to the rental rate sure is a nice profit boost for Airbnb
  1. DC resident said at 5:23 pm on Sunday October 20, 2013:
    Brian: Brian most if not all of the 2080 houses listed for rent thru AirBnb in DC are Zoned R-4 which does not permit rental of rooms on a 1-3 night basis which is essentially a bread and breakfast. There is no license or permit that a homewowner whose house is Zoned R4 can get that will legally allow this use. All of this activity is illegal, tax or no tax and all parties involved know that-homeowners,renters and Airbnb. It is not the tax, the practice is illegal. The Urban Turf kills me with this so called discussion like this rental practice is a lawfuly activity that you can get a basic business license for it. I own a 2 unit apartment building in DC and have a basic business license and a certificate of occupancy so I know what can and cannot be conducted in an R-4 zone. If you tell the truth about the rental acitivty an R-4 zoned homeowner is doing they cannot get a basic buiness license because Zoning laws in DC do not allow homeowners to rent rooms on a 1-2-3 night basis to tourists. The attorney general of DC needs to put a stop to Airbnb operating in DC period.

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