Photo by turkeychik via Flickr CC
Airbnb has helped make a major shift in how we rent space while traveling, extending the collaborative consumerism model to cover housing. Now instead of booking a hotel room, you can book a bed in some local's apartment or house, and you can rent your own extra space out to travelers to make a little side money. While reservations usually apply to just a night or three, now Airbnb is helping arrange longer-term stays like monthly rentals or even subletting. Mashable writes, "Airbnb emphasizes the convenience of being able to book long-term accommodations "sight-unseen," giving its customers the ability to avoid scoping out multiple apartments, condos or houses in person.
"In addition, the company touts the convenience of paying rent with a credit card and adds that many users will like trying out a neighborhood by living in it for a month or two before they commit to buying a house or signing a long-term lease."
I hear story after story of new folks moving to San Francisco and "scoring a great deal on an apartment!!" only to find out that the cross streets put them smack in the middle of the Tenderloin. Having a resource like Airbnb and being able to rent for a month or two to realize why you're getting such a "great deal" on rent would save a lot of people heartache when moving to a new city.
It's a smart strategy and a bonus for collaborative consumerism, giving people a place to stay when and where they need it for how long the need it, even if that's a usually-too-weird-to-accomodate 5 weeks.
And, as Mashable points out, it's great for people with second homes who don't want them just sitting there when they're not on vacation. They can rent them out for months at a time via Airbnb rather than the more expensive rental agencies.
And for those of you who read about the scandal that rocked Airbnb this summer when renters seriously thrashed a woman's apartment, calm your concerns with the fact that Airbnb is also offering a $50,000 insurance guarantee for any damage done by renters, on top of their other safety measures.
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