There's no shortage of "Airbnb controversy" stories that pop up on social media. From guests discovering cameras recording them during their stay, to finding receipts for surveillance equipment, to getting so paranoid they may be spied on that they jump to conclusions on social media and mistake sprinklers for cameras, it seems like the app is always being called out.
But that's just one aspect of the negative press that Airbnb has been receiving, so much so that folks tend to forget that the company has launched several charitable initiatives. Like fronting the cost of stays for refugees from Afghanistan who were forced to flee the region after the Biden administration's inactivity allowed for the Taliban to gain control of the country again.
However, most headlines pertaining to the app revolve around negative or potentially shady experiences customers have had. One researcher says that they've gotten to the root of that problem: Airbnb hosts.
A TikToker who goes by Mr. Chris Chill and posts under the handle @mrchrischill on the popular social media platform claimed that "the era of Airbnb is done" in a viral clip.
Chris highlights that when the application was first launched, at its core, it was designed for folks who had a spare room in their house or some extra space on their property that they could rent out for some side cash.
He goes on to say that once big developers began discovering that there was money to be made on the app, a huge portion of properties on the application were purchased by land and property developers. Massive complexes with tons of units only have a few persistent tenants, and the rest of the apartments are reserved for Airbnb, Chris says.
"Instead of Grandma renting out her son’s old room, it’s a big developer buying an entire apartment complex and turning 80% of those into Airbnbs," the TikToker said. He also adds that the application is now being overrun by hosts who are basically running quasi-hotels, which is where a legal quagmire lies: are these "developer hosts" skirting local commercial laws by running these "mini-hotels" as Airbnbs?
Hotels and restaurants fall under Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), which means that they carry a litany of different legal stipulations businesses must adhere to. And while Airbnb has its own policies, procedures, standards, and business legalities they must tend to, which extend to both customer and host, hosts aren't necessarily governed by Article 2 of the UCC.
A Harvard.edu article writes: "Courts disagree about whether covenants prohibiting "commercial use" of real property apply to short term rentals like Airbnb. While some courts have said that such rentals do constitute commercial use, see, others have found the use not to be commercial but residential in nature."
Chris said that his researched was conducted by himself and a team of grad students, and his viral TikTok received a litany of comments from users on the platform who expressed that they too believe the end-user experience on the app has gone downhill.
Others said that developers in certain areas have "destroyed" local housing markets making it impossible for folks to buy homes, meanwhile, there are plenty of units to rent on Airbnb that stay vacant a large amount of the time.
"yea, Airbnb hosts have destroyed the housing markets in small niche communities. San Juan Island is one such place"
"it seems like every tech company with this business model turns into a race to the bottom for the people that are using the business to make money"
"Small tourist town here and ppl from Cali are coming in, buying, turning it into an Airbnb, and then not even living here! No more homes for locals"
"Also become more expensive than a hotel sometimes"
"Airbnb is the Craigslist of accommodations. #Never"
The legalities on renting on Airbnb are being hotly disputed in various areas all across America. The application also made headlines recently for banning guests from using rentals as party venues: "We know that the overwhelming majority of our Hosts share their homes responsibly, just as the overwhelming majority of guests are responsible and treat their listings and neighborhoods as if they were their own. In turn, we focus on trying to deter the very rare cases of Hosts who do not operate responsibly, or guests who try to throw unauthorized parties," Airbnb said in a statement.