The Start of the End for Airbnb As We Know It?

Travel upstarts like Airbnb have shaken up the industry.  By offering everyday citizens the opportunity to leverage their homes as income streams, Airbnb has created undesired competition for hotels.  Similar to ridesharing companies, like Uber and Lyft, government regulators (and special interest lobby groups) have been opposed to these practices.



Recently, there has been increasing pressure pushing back against Airbnb.  Across the country, from San Francisco to New York, efforts are underway to “set reasonable rules for those wishing to rent an extra room from time to time, or their entire house while on vacation.”

This week, you can add Des Moines, Iowa to the list of cities in which Airbnb operators are under siege.

City leaders passed restrictions that make it more difficult for homeowners to rent their properties for short periods.  Homeowners, who rent their space for fewer than 31 days, must be at home during the rental period; violators face a fine of up to $750.

“Your neighbors you get to know, and they help protect you and keep your neighborhood safe. Bringing in different people you don’t know would diminish that,” said Michelle Olsen, of West Des Moines.

How do you feel about the increasing pressure on Airbnb operators?

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  1. Yes, I’m sure tourists, whose backgrounds have been thoroughly checked, pose a grave risk and are the real reason for this. Such BS, hotel lobbyists are playing dirty.

    If any neighborhood wants to restrict rentals it should be through HOA rules, not government.

  2. Des Moines (population 200,000) takes action and this triggers your headline asking if this is the end of AirBnB? Uh…no. The movements in NY, SF and LA have been ongoing for some time. Slow Saturday?

    • james h –

      When these issues reach small cities across the country, it suggests to me that there is an increasing momentum towards legislation. Cities like NYC and SF tend to be leading the charge by virtue of their position as early adopters of these technologies, but Des Moines represents the canary in the coal mine moreso in my opinion.

      P.S. ICYMI: links to articles discussing the issues Airbnb faces in NYC and SF are linked above.

    • @james h. – The system forces us to approve all comments from users who have never submitted text before. You gave us 9 minutes…early on a Saturday morning

  3. Sorry about the 9 minutes…all I saw was that my comment disappeared. Nonetheless, I hardly think one small town taking action to restrict (not eliminate) AirBnB is a harbinger of anything. Yes, some guidelines are coming and appropriate. Will it mean the “end” of anything? Unlikely. Worthy of discussion? Yes. But the headline is still hyperbolic click-bait IMO.

    • James h. –

      The end of Airbnb “as we know it.”

      Just like how Uber has evolved dramatically over the past 3 years, I anticipate that increasing regulation pressures will result in the end of certain aspects of Airbnb that we are accustomed to.

  4. If you’re an Airbnb owner in Des Moines, you simply need to draft up a 31 day lease agreement with a daily rate and no penalty for vacating the lease early.

  5. Always interesting to me that Uber gets the lion’s share of the criticisms toward the “sharing economy” and AirBnB seems generally liked. IMO Uber makes cities better for *both* residents and tourists alike by making it cheaper and more reliable to get around. AirBnB absolutely makes cities worse off for residents, especially in already high rent areas like SF and NYC, and only good for tourists. With respect to safety, I would be pissed if I found out one of my neighbors was renting his/her place on AirBnB. No background checking of guests or hosts. You can make the same safety argument against Uber but I find the risks of letting a strange alone into your home, especially if you live in a shared complex, to be absurd.

    • John –

      It is an interesting question you raise. I do think that Uber potentially places the rider at risk every time he/she gets into a vehicle, whereas it seems unlikely that an Airbnb guest will decide to rent a property to intentionally commit a felony there. I could certainly be wrong and convinced of that though…

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