Is Airbnb Legal?

A blog about business and economics.
June 6 2012 5:22 PM

Is Airbnb Legal?

I was excited to take a break from my usual role as anti-regulation scold this morning write the case for more stringent utility-style regulation of cable companies but I'm back to form with a piece about Airbnb.

I think Airbnb is great. If you don't know what it is, basically it's a service to let people rent out space in their own for people to stay in when they're visiting town. People who travel a lot can do it with their apartment when they're gone. Empty nesters can rent out a spare room. And in some cases (like the place I stayed in Buenos Aires) people can purchase property specifically with short-term rentals in mind. I think this is a really valuable service. Traditional hotels in major cities are very focused on a business audience with a dowtown location and an often excessive level of service provision. But if you're interested in visiting a city just to visit you might prefer to stay in a residential area. Go someplace that young people live and where there are cool bars and restaurants rather than a business district full of middling expensive food targeted at people on expense accounts.


My concern is that in many cases this isn't actually legal and could be construed as violating various zoning and business licensing rules. After all, one reason the hotels are concentrated where they are is that those are the places where you're allowed to build hotels. Smart cities will look at changing this, and welcome more beds for visitors and thus more overall visitors and travel.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.



Scalia’s Liberal Streak

The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.

Colorado Is Ground Zero for the Fight Over Female Voters

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B


Theo’s Joint and Vanessa’s Whiskey

No sitcom did the “Very Special Episode” as well as The Cosby Show.


The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Cliff Huxtable Explains the World: Five Lessons From TV’s Greatest Dad

Why Television Needs a New Cosby Show Right Now

  News & Politics
Sept. 18 2014 8:20 PM A Clever Attempt at Explaining Away a Vote Against the Farm Bill
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History
The Slate Quiz
Sept. 18 2014 11:44 PM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Double X
Sept. 18 2014 8:07 PM Crying Rape False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 6:48 PM By 2100 the World's Population Could Be 11 Billion
  Health & Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.