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THE TRUTH BEHIND AIRBNB AND OTHER VACATION RENTAL GIANTS

Written by Elitza Batchiyska

As vacation rental giants like Airbnb continue to grow in size, they begin to wreak havoc on local rental companies that have dedicated a lifetime’s worth of hard work to being honest, loyal, and cooperative with the towns and areas they represent. Airbnb’s latest controversial move involves using scare tactics to trick small towns like Mammoth Lakes into allowing them to bypass town ordinances, regulations, and guidelines in order to conduct business.

Local, long-time companies like Nomadness Rentals must mandatorily abide by all town ordinances, and for good reason. These ordinances are present to ensure the security and well-being of guests and local residents, ensuring that all vacation rentals are properly equipped, meet all safety regulations, and are up to renting standards.

In May, Airbnb approached – and was subsequently denied by – the town of Mammoth Lakes with a proposition to offer short-term rentals in the area without meeting ordinance requirements such as paying TBIDs (Mammoth Lakes Tourism Business Improvement District fees), conducting inspections, or providing documentation in case an audit is required. For those unfamiliar with TBIDs, these are small fees that fund marketing and promotion efforts for local businesses. The element of waiving inspection requirements is self-explanatory – without Airbnb conducting inspections and reporting to the town, guests don’t receive the assurance they need that their rental is up to par.

Additionally, Airbnb’s format of being homeowner-operated means guests may not receive all the services they’d otherwise get with a rental management company like Nomadness Rentals. Where Nomadness Rentals offers 24-hour emergency line services, licensed/insured housekeepers, pre-approved repairmen, and professional/experienced customer service representatives, Airbnb offers a user-generated contract that does not pre-approve the services promised by those homeowners.

Mammoth Lakes refused the requests made by Airbnb and is working to further spread the word as these attempts by Airbnb are being made in many other small tourism-oriented towns also. This begs the question: If Airbnb is making underhanded requests to small towns and cities, what might they be doing with the millions of renter/homeowner accounts on their platform? Nomadness Rentals and similar vacation rental companies offer complete transparency, doing their best to ensure all their units and guest experiences are up to par.

This latest development is just one peg in the ongoing controversy surrounding Airbnb, who take away from the hard work of hotel owners, small-scale lodging providers, and local property management companies – all of which dedicate themselves to every aspect of quality assurance, from repairs and cleaning to customer satisfaction. These things are not a guarantee with the rental giants that tend to abandon their users once the booking process is complete, leaving them wondering what to do when they arrive to their rental.

In a letter from the Mammoth Lakes Town Council, it is stated that “this document [from Airbnb] would have other agencies lining up at our door to get the same sort of ‘waiver’”. If more and more unfamiliar companies began asking for waivers on town taxes, requirements, etc. – what would happen to the quality of vacation rentals in Mammoth Lakes? This is a pressing question that we ask our renters to ask themselves before choosing rental companies like Airbnb for their next vacation. When it comes to quality and professionalism, we ask our guests to consider certified and upright vacation rental companies like Nomadness Rentals for their next trip instead of settling for their more large-scale, unregulated counterparts.