Citizen complaint of the day: This Airbnb stuff has got to stop

A fed-up citizen who lives on Gainsborough Street in the Fenway complains:

Unit 105 have been renting out his condo to people online on a nightly bases! The people staying are completely random! This a quite neighborhood with long term residents something needs to be down about this! This is a residential neighborhood not a hotel! Security for our building has been compromised. Leaving Keys under the railing for guest to access the unit is appalling anyone can come in! Please stop this immediately!!!

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Sounds like he needs to

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Sounds like he needs to complain to the management company or association, rather than going straight to the city. I'm sure that's all they'll tell him to do.

Also, so! Many! Exclamation! Points!!! Such! Anger!!!

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Violating zoning & the city

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Violating zoning & the city is being cheated out of hotel taxes. Probably insurance fraud too.

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Is it really a problem?

Other than a less-than-perfect system of transferring the key to the renter, I do not see what effect this is having on your life.

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Turning a condo into an

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Turning a condo into an illegal rooming house or hotel is not cool.

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Really

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Different people coming and going? How do I know who these people are? Will they bang and chip the crap out of our stained hardwood entry doors with oversized luggage? Do they know how to use the trash and recycling properly? Will they steal the rug from the front hall (don't laugh, that happened, though not from a tenant that we know of - $500 down the drain)? Will they clog the dryer vent and burn down the building with us and our pets in it? Will they have all their 20 year old friends over for a party and sneak onto the private roofdeck and have one fall off? Does our building insurance cover that? Is the owner insured for that? Do they give a crap about tracking mud through the building? Will they "assume" the parking is there for the building and use my spot? Is Jack the Ripper coming to stay for a night? Or is it just someone casing the building - that now has a key. How many more do you want?

This is a disaster in the making. You want to operate a B&B - go buy one in Nantucket. We have rules in our building - temporary tenants must have a one year lease - for these reasons and more. This is a huge security and maintenance issue. Most zoning prohibits it for a reason. If you are a condo or commercial building and you allow it you are an idiot.

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Perfectly said.

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There are a huge number of issues with short term rentals like this.

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As a fellow condo owner I couldn't! agree! more!

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I have front desk security at my building but if a resident leaves a key at the front desk with someone's name on it, the concierge will give the key to that person.

Another thing to add, because this has happened in my building, is that once someone gets in, they have access to our underground garage. We had a problem with smashing and grabbing a couple of years ago.

As they say, the call is coming from inside the house!

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Those are all great points.

Those are all great points. But are they really problems exclusive to air bnb? It reads like a list of worries/concerns anyone would have living in a large residence with many inhabitants. How do you know one of your neighbors would not track mud into the building?

I can see a point that these people are nightly strangers, and may not care for the building in the same way as a year-long renter.

Have you met any of the air bnbers? The ones I have met in my building are all happy world travelers excited to see Boston/Fenway Park. No complaints or issues here.

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No complaints?

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Not even complaints about Koji Uehara? And you let those people into your building?

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Brendan,

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Brendan,

It's really about accountability. Let's stipulate that 95%+ of Airbnb guests are nice considerate folks just looking for a place to stay.

The problem is that the last 1-5% who are inconsiderate (noisy, destructive, malicious, whatever). They have almost no accountability, and as a resident, you have basically no recourse to deal with the problem. The owner of the unit can't crack down the behavior, because the person engaging in the behavior is gone long before you do anything.

Any if a unit is constantly being rented out to different folks, 95% isn't good enough. One in twenty (or one in fifty) renters causing problems is pretty much unacceptable.

This is not true for a neighbor is regularly doing something destructive. He (or his landlord) can be fined by the association. Short term, this will cause the resident to stop the behavior. Long term, this causes the landlord to seek out better tenants who won't do this sort of thing.

Finally and most importantly, it is almost certainly against the condo rules that the owner agreed to upon purchase of the property.

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Of course it could be a

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Of course it could be a neighbor, but generally people treat their own homes better than hotel rooms, and this is no different.

You might track mud in somewhere you'll never see again after that night, but you probably wouldn't if you had to step in it every day.

Not a single thing you

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Not a single thing you mention is any concern of the city. Every thing you mention is the responsibility of either the tenants, the condo association, or the landlord to deal with.

Insurance, Licensing, Inspections And Taxes

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Those four things are all important aspects of this debate and why SF, NYC, Boston and other places are cracking down, or proposing to, on AirBnB and similar situations.
They are clearly the concern of the city and/or higher forms of government.

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Stevil, in the comment above

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Stevil, in the comment above that I was replying to, didn't mention insurance, licensing, inspections, or taxes, which obviously (with the exception of insurance) are within the government purview. I'll reiterate: everything in that litany of supposed evils has nothing whatsoever to do with city hall.

But zoning does

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I'll agree - this is best addressed at the building level. However, zoning is 100% within the purview of the city and very few of the residential areas are zoned for hotel use. City hall, for all the reasons you cite, 100% has a vested interest in zoning issues and Air BNB, even in private residences, violates zoning regs in most of the city.

Wow, this is why I would

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Wow, this is why I would never buy anything with an association or condo rules. You guys are nazis. Luckily I own my building and I can do whatever I want in my apartments!

Godwin's law

Seriously? You think it's out of line for a group of people who own something in common -- whether it's a yacht club, a ski house, a condo building, or an airplane, to have written rules that lay out the shared understanding of what you can and can't do with the shared item?

There's a fair degree of freedom in coming up with the rules -- different yacht clubs, ski houses, condo buildings, etc. are going to be looser or tighter about different issues -- and we're all perfectly free to buy in or not buy in as we choose.

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Anarchy Only Works For Communes

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Considering that the behavior of certain renters and transients are an issue for many complexes, but also long time owners just as frequently... yes, you need ironclad rules that are designed to penalize bad behavior. Obviously, in an ideal world, people would behave responsibly. But they do not. In general humans suck, and need to be regulated.

And it never hurts

..to greet the latest coder gimmick with a very jaundiced eye.

Software developers tend to be isolated from real world aspects of schemes they dream up. I run into it all the time.

Leaving aside the inevitable operational bugs that users end up finding and fixing with work arounds, you basically have the lamest species of conceited engineers dreaming up money making schemes while in some red bull frenzy.

The diverse range of comment posters here is telling. We have an unusual convergence of agreement that a stupid web scheme that leaves you open to a home wreck is a dim idea.

While I am a major intensive user of its platforms, I'll be the first to point out that Google has destroyed the livelihoods of millions of photographers, music makers, writers and so on by unleashing stuff that undermines the basis and enforcability of things like copyright.

This very blog derives a portion of income from ad server outfits with a rate structure controlled by what Google sets. The returns are very shoddy as if Google is mainly a pauperization engine.

I take a different approach. I use it to do useful stuff for free.

I like it that Germany recognizes this hazard and makes life hell for Google at every turn. Here in imbecilic free market US, we just clap and stare as the thing destroys whole sectors of economic activity because we are fixated on innovation myths.

It took us forever to rein Microsoft in.

Jaundiced eye

Google has stopped being a service provider or creater of new things and become a code vulture, buying up projects and systems developed by more creative companies and then crapping advertising all over them. It's like the Bain of applications. It's a different game than Microsoft played.

I was interested to read this morning about the Harvard hedgies investing in ripping off poor people via payday loans. Talk about a pauperization engine.

It's a shame how much more energy and creativity is invested in pursuing the last dollar of the miserable than in creating new things. A fool and his money are soon parted, so a foolmoney vacuum beats a better mousetrap any day.

AirBnB proponents might present it as a fun thing among friends, or a way to maximize utilization of resources, but another way to see it is as a scheme for sucking common resources and value out of multiple-unit residences That's the low-hanging fruit in this scenario - like the rug in the entryway, it's just sitting there, and all you need is a key to take it.

When you own in a condo, you pay a lot of fees dedicated to maintaining the public areas, and then you consume that expenditure and the common resources of the location at a ratio more or less corresponding to your portion of the whole building. AirBnB presents a way for the individual owner to maximize their personal consumption of goods held in common. It doesn't create anything of value; it hoovers up value created by others. It's yet another way to profit at the expense of others.

If local regulators ban AirBnB it'll just move headquarters to St. Croix and run like an online poker ring.

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Exactly.

It is like Microshaft's evil stepchild morphed into something as encompassing as ATT at the height of its power.

I got a lot of worthwhile things done with land lines back in the day but I was no fan of the phone company.

With luck, it will collide with a fat and terrifying antitrust action one of these days.

To me it's like Dilbert.

I use google plus very intensively but it has been broken for a few months. It's friggin google.

They are an benchmark of webtech and have been flailing wildly with back of shop messes to get the basic plus system to work. It's solved now to a degree which is why I'm not here as much, to the relief of many, no doubt.

And I see this flailing all the time. Mechanical and electrical engineering are a bit more settled and can't readily carry on like this.

A dear friend has facebook account number one as he beta tested it for little zuckie when he worked at Harvard and he thinks it sux but likes the account trophy. I have media lab friends from the 70s and another friend with a special Babson MBA in entrepreneurial web work. He works at at intuit.

I was just in a long skype IM with the owner of All About Jazz, a fairly busy stand alone platform ,and another best friend is a retired systems integration engineer from Cisco. I kind of know my way around the field as a heavy user with a lifetime of friendships in tech heavy Boston.

*Rolls eyes* at the old nazi condo association accusation

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I live in a fairly large condo complex (about 250 units) and there have to be regulations to keep that many people and units operating smoothly.

Banning people from moving in and out during the middle of the night seems reasonable to me. Not letting people past the concierge unless they have a key or the front desk calls the resident and gets permission to let the person in, having parking passes to prevent people from using our spots when they go to one of the restaurants around here? Good.

Plus, most of my heat/hot water is covered by my condo fees. So are landscaping, basic maintenance, onsite property management, plowing/shoveling, having someone sign for packages and then locking them in a room until I get home? We have a big project that will start in 2015 to revamp the common areas.

My condo fees are worth every penny and most of my pennies go towards making this place an attractive place for buyers thereby keeping property values up.

Hmm

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Sounds like a general complaint of any building. Other tenants could burn it down by not cleaning the lint out of the dryer or go onto the private balcony with their friends and someone falls. This is more of a complaint to be brought up with the tenant (perhaps noting that keys should be handed off properly). In the meantime, that tenant pays rent and can do whatever he/she wants with that apartment. If it violates the rental agreement, you can complain to the building management, but pinning it on AirBnB is a bit of a stretch. This venue certainly isn't going to do much more than let you vent (make sure you clean it out by the way so you don't catch on fire).

It really sounds like you just don't like living in a building comminity where not everyone's actions are passed by you first. Perhaps you should find a private place out by Nantucket.

It's a risk to the neighbors in the building.

The short term rentals offer the opportunity of letting many individuals with malicious intent into the building. There are a number of recorded cases were things have gone wrong with Airbnb guest/hosts:

http://www.businessinsider.com/airbnb-host-cant-get-squatter-to-leave-20...
http://www.businessinsider.com/how-an-airbnb-guest-trashed-a-penthouse-2...
http://www.businessinsider.com/bi-employee-has-airbnb-horror-story-2014-6
http://blog.sfgate.com/techchron/2014/07/27/airbnb-squatter-would-squat-...

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No shits are given

It's less about Malicious intent and more about not caring about the building or it's residents. When you are only there for a night or two you are less likely to treat the place like home. As others have posted, there are also building specific ways of dealing with trash and laundry that are often lost on short term guests.

I like the idea of Airbnb but it has it's limits when the host isn't staying in the house at the same time.

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Visitor syndrome

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Absolutely. I call it "visitor syndrome": I'm on vacation, it's not my community, I don't ever have to deal with these people again, might as well get drunk and pee in the bushes. It's the sort of things suburban Red Sox fans get up to on their once-a-year spree in town, only at least they're not in your building. So this is worse.

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In our building all tenants

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In our building all tenants have to be vetted. The last one that wasn't vetted was a serious addict who would regularly pass out cold, many times with lit cigarettes, and not feed or water or take his dogs out to for days at a time. The lady across from him would almost weekly have to call 911 because she feared he was dead. We'd be buzzing in fire, police and emts on a regular basis. The landlord did NOTHING to kick him out! A few times when we saw him being taken out on the stretcher, so did we. The dogs were so neglected they looked like they had been starving, fur was falling out in clumps and their eyes were milky white. He ran a fake charity scam from the apartment and did nothing but get wasted and piss himself to sleep. That floor stunk because of his urine and that of his poor abused dogs. How would you like that for a neighbor? That wouldn't bother you? Can you figure out why this isn't a good idea now?

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Keys

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It totally sux when the keys aren't there...

Evading

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Commercial zoning is for a reason and residents cannot arbitrarily change it. An Innkeepers License is required for lodging purposes and there are certain taxes that get triggered: 5.7% State, 6% City and 2.75% Convention Center. So, for every Airbnb room night, $14.45 is uncollected....that's unacceptable.

As a resident of Boston, I expect the city and state to collect the taxes it is owed and I also expect the zoning laws be adhered to for the quality of life in our neighborhoods. This is not a free-for-all society; we have rules and processes!!

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It's guys like this that ruin it for everyone

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Airbnb is a great idea and something I generally endorse. If you're on vacation for a week or two and you rent your place out to someone, that's totally cool. However, renting to new people every day or two is really different. It's these people who go overboard with this kind of renting that gives the whole concept a bad name, when in fact Airbnb is normally a good thing.

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I was thinking the same thing

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If you're renting your apartment out for a week or two once a year, no one will notice, and you're not making a business out of it. Sounds like the owner of the unit this complaint about is treating it as a hotel room. I understand why the neighbors would be concerned!

The Real Problem

is the hospitality industry. Luxury hotels where you expect to pay a month's rent per night aside, the cost of a roach-ridden, mold-infested room in the shitty part of town is through the roof in even the smallest places.

I'll agree that there needs to be more oversight here, but Air BnB solves a problem, plain and simple.

Randomness

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I have an issue with the compainer's use of the word "random." Most people say "random" when they mean "unexpected." Randomness is a mathematical term; if these tenants are truly random, then everything is. These short-term tenants are not random; they were chosen. Also, the word "random" is a descriptor chosen by the young and the linguistically lazy. Don't use it.

But yeah, I agree. Air bnb sucks. I'd be upset if it were my building as well.

Cheers.

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Mathematical errors vs Punctuation errors

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Should UHub have a scoring system for citizen complaints?

Is the complaint valid = YES!!!!

Are there too many exclamation points? = NO!!!!! (The exclamation points are well-deserved)

Is the word "random" misused? = YES

Total score = 2 out of 3 = good.

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Long-term residency

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This a quite neighborhood with long term residents

This was a quiet neighborhood with long term residents. FTFY. Welcome back students!

check the association docs

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Check with the association or management company. Many condo docs now prohibit short-term leasing. Starting in the 80's most developers started putting this in to the docs for new properties:

"No unit may be used or rented for transient hotel or motel purpose"

Even many older associations have modified their docs to reflect this update.

What amazes me, is that your

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What amazes me, is that your supposedly 'free' country(and annoying entitled middle-class sheltered people) cripple every attempt at free enterprise with billion rules and taxes so it only leaves it profitable to big corporations.

From Uber, to AirBnB and to Tamale lady in East Boston(our yuppies were complaining that tamale lady doesn't pay sales tax on her homemade tamales she sells on the street)

Why should the tamale lady be exempt from paying sales tax?

Are the police going to help her if someone tries to rob her of her profits? Does the city plow, clean, and maintain the street where she sells her tamales? Will the ambulance come if she hurts herself? She's getting all the benefits, why shouldn't she pay her share of the cost? Why should she get a break and the hardworking guy who owns the restaurant up the street not get the same break?

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I get the whole AirBNB issue

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I get the whole AirBNB issue in the city. But having people renting them in and out every three days can be risky. What's the point of having a security guard if your going to have new people in and out all
the time? I'm afraid they would cause damage or create a problem... Ooops I cloged the dishwasher and I left it running, I'm a hooker needing a clasy place gor my clients to come too. Too much going if it was a single family house I wouldn't care.

Renting an empty condo vs renting a room in an inhabited condo

This seems to be a case of someone who no longer/never has lived on premises, renting out a furnished vacation apartment though something like VRBO. That is a big leap from someone renting a spare bedroom in his primary residence. The AirBnB idea is fine as a VERY side source of income

Done the right the right way-- check with neighbors & the condo association, only rent it a few times a year during high-demand times like the Fourth-- and I have no problem with the idea. But AirBnB has become a haven for people who aren't just taking in a few bucks of extra income, but running small, unlicensed businesses.