Comment by: Emily M. Speier

44 PEPP. L. REV. 387 (2017)

Peer-to-peer services offer participants considerable advantages whether they are a provider of such services or a user of them.  The Airbnb phenomenon is an example of how technological advancement has transformed the rental industry and has signaled a societal acceptance of a sharing economy.  However, the question now is to what extent cities should regulate this influx of short-term rentals while still preserving the property rights of homeowners.

Much of the answer to this question depends on each city’s individual interpretation of specific areas of the law.  Some legal issues raised by regulation and explored by this article include the property rights of homeowners, zoning restrictions on short-term rentals, and taxation responsibilities.

Thus far, there have been several city-specific approaches to regulating Airbnb.  This Comment contrasts San Francisco’s use of a permitting system with New York’s adherence to its Multiple Dwelling Law and analyzes the benefits and ramifications of each.  Then, it turns to Portland’s Shared City initiative, which provides a more-balanced approach by combining the benefits of the permitting system with an enforcement mechanism to allow the city to realize the full benefits of the law.  It concludes by urging more cities to follow Portland’s lead because it provides an ideal middle ground between preserving an owner’s right to engage in short-term rentals and protecting the nature of the city for all residents and visitors alike.

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