Coming soon to your home-share business … regulation!

The “Gig Economy,” which includes the ride-sharing and home-sharing businesses, has not been without some controversy. In my area, both the city and suburbs are currently in the process of developing rules and regulations for homes rented on Airbnb, Homeaway, VRBO, etc. These proposed rules cover standard safety and code inspections, and the registration of properties.

Home-sharing is a growth business. Just look at the stats here in Western New York–a place that is really only welcoming to visitors from May to October–with the exception of those who love cold weather and a few lucky business people. Home-share guest visits in Erie County went up 51 percent from 2017 to 2018, and Niagara County’s went up 71 percent in the same time period. Good news for Host for the Most book sales!

Lift and Uber are subject to regulation in big cities such as New York, and it’s only fair the home-sharing business fall under some regulation as well. Those of us who rent apartments long-term have to meet certain safety codes, why shouldn’t short-term rentals be under the same standards? Safety is safety, period.

I do, however, take issue with regulations that don’t seem fair. Some of our local suburban officials are talking about one-year certification at a cost of $250/year if the home is owner-occupied, and $500/year if it is not. The City of Buffalo is proposing one-year certification fees at $75 and $150 respectively.

These fees are supposed to cover the municipality’s costs for inspections–Hmmm! It costs that much more to do an inspection in a suburb than in the city? I’d be a little suspicious if I operated in the suburbs. It seems like a bit of a money-grab to me. Watch what’s happening in your communities–there might be a visit to a town hall meeting on your horizon!

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