Airbnb Tells Mayors: Be Our Friend, And We’ll Collect Lodging Taxes For You

Airbnb just wants to be your friend, mayors. All it wants is for you to let city residents rent all or part of their homes out sometimes, and in exchange for that, the peer-to-peer short-term rental service will collect taxes and turn them over to cities. That’s the service’s pitch at the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting this week in Washington, D.C. Are America’s mayors interested in the pitch?

Airbnb is a sponsor of the meeting, and their head of global policy gave a speech to make his case to the mayors, but Airbnb’s mortal enemy also sent sponsorship dollars and a speaker to the meeting. The New York Times reports that the American Hotel & Lodging Association, an industry lobbying group, was also there to remind mayors that Airbnb hosts are really landlords renting places out full-time so they can cannibalize both affordable housing and the hotel business.

That’s all part of the short-term rental industry’s battle of statistics with the hotel industry, where their existential struggle is played out in the housing codes and rental regulations of cities across the country. A new proposal from the mayor of Chicago, for example, is a plan to register small-time hosts and impose a small tax, but also an admission that the city’s existing 2010 vacation rentals law that no one bothers to obey isn’t working.

Airbnb Takes Its Case to U.S. Mayors Conference [New York Times]