American hotel association to fight Airbnb and short-term rentals

The hotel industry is finally mustering its considerable public relations and lobbying muscle to tackle the topic of short-term online rental companies, such as Airbnb.

In a message to its members yesterday, the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA), announced that it plans to work across the country to battle against the current practices of short-term rental companies.

The association, whose members represent 52,000 properties, says it has crafted a campaign to

“highlight the bad, unfair and in some cases unlawful business practices employed by short-term online rental companies and the lack of parity between safety, security, tax, and other requirements for hotels and short-term online rentals.”

Outtakes from the message tell the story:

In many markets, Airbnb and similar short-term online rental marketplaces are technically illegal, but lax enforcement of existing laws has allowed these entities to grow exponentially in size.

Their increasing popularity, together with unclear regulatory structures, has prompted many local governments to examine new ways to tax and regulate these companies.

Airbnb has led aggressive outreach programs in several cities, engaging local officials, agreeing to collect and pay some taxes, and pushing for favorable rewrites of local planning law.

To counter these actions, AH&LA is working to drive the short-term rental company debates. Our plan includes:

Together with our partner states, identifying target cities and localities where we can engage in select tax, safety, and health fights at the council level to pre-empt other deals being sought by short-term online rental companies;

Creating a feedback loop at the federal level between Congress and federal agencies, and pushing legislation ensuring laws regulating hotels are applied equally to short-term online rental companies;

Highlighting the tremendous innovation within the hotel sector; and

Raising enforcement concerns regarding the lack of compliance by short-term online rental companies with areas including provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, safety, occupancy rules, and tax reporting.

Airbnb and its competitors have, to date, short-circuited much of the hostile energy coming from traditional hospitality players.

But it may need to have to up its game, as resistance to short-term rental grows stronger.

(A spokesperson for Airbnb could not be reached for comment before press time.)

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Sean O'Neill

About the Writer :: Sean O'Neill

Sean O’Neill had roles as a reporter and editor-in-chief at Tnooz between July 2012 and January 2017.



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  1. Hotel Association Takes Aim at Airbnb, But Airbnb Isn’t Taking the Bait | Personal Injury Lawyer Team

    […] a message to members, the American Hotel & Lodging Association identified Airbnb by name, saying short-term online […]

  2. Jim McCready

    I own a small hotel, we use AirBnB and they charge us a fraction of what the on-line booking companies charge. They review the guests as well as the hotels and we are happy to pay 3% as opposed to the up to 25% charged by the other online companies.
    We are not a member of the American Hotel Association, but if they would spend their money on a website and advertising it, so people knew it existed, that drove business fairly to hotels, at little or no charge, we would gladly pay the membership fee.

  3. Brian Brunsvold

    Virginia legislation being pushed by Airbnb is subject to attack on the basis that Virginia has jurisdiction to require registration, and to tax facilitators of short term rental real property in Virginia , and does not need consent of Airbnb to impose such laws on Airbnb and other facilitators. Personal jurisdiction is is a matter of contacts with the state and Airbnb has over 4000 contracts with Virginia property owners dealing with the repeated short term rental of real property in Virginia. These short term rentals tend to destroy the cohesiveness of residential neighborhoods and have raised a high level of homeowner anger in Fairfax County, that showed up in 2 large community meetings I attended. The cases that deal with sales of personal property sold over the internet by a company having no physical presence in the state are not controlling legal authority that would preclude Virginia’s right to regulate and tax real property related activity within Virginia. I have suggested to Fairfax County’s state legislators that they should get competent legal opinions, including an opinion by the state Attorney General, before gutting the ability of local governments to enforce their zoning ordinances against short term rental facilities.

  4. Edward

    We own a small Inn – and our a licensed Hotel – we spent our life savings restoring our Victorian Hotel in New Jersey- we do not understand how this can be allowed . Home owners are not Hotels – do not have to pay commercial insurance- have inspections -or a Valid State License to operate .
    It is unfair and must change. I do not know what the government and state are waiting for. Also I see some of the states are requiring the home owners to pay sales tax and occupancy tax.
    How is this possible with out a Hotel License.
    This needs to stop – and all Hotel and Inn owners should join the fight to stop it – Nothing wrong with long term vacation rental.
    However when you start renting by the night and are a home owner it is not legal

    • J Breaux

      This is old but still valid. You could list your boutique hotel on AirBnB and take advantage of their network. It could be a win win.

  5. Bob Groble

    As many major cities do, we have a law prohibiting short term rentals that has been in effect for 3 years.

    Since that law was enacted, Airbnb has been facilitating thousands of illegal rentals in knowingly breaking the law.

    And now, they are asking to be rewarded for this by being allowed to operate simply because they are willing to pay lodging taxes. Not once, in any article or news broadcast have I heard anyone mention the fact that these rentals have owed those taxes since the first day that they started

    If you want to operate a business that you know is illegal, you don’t open it up and then ask for permission to do it. You change the law or you find a new business. The excuse that “this should be legal” doesn’t cut it, not by a mile.

    Those of us who know the difference between right and wrong are wondering why anyone is even considering rewarding these people for running an illegal business? Why no one is asking about the past non-payment of taxes and the huge amount of interest and penalties that would also be due? In addition to lodging taxes, are any of these people paying income taxes on this income?

    Ask the IRS or the Dept. of Taxation if they will forgive someone who doesn’t pay taxes that are required. They have a name for that behavior, and that name is either tax evasion or tax fraud.
    In an email to Valleywag, the same Mr. Hantman, Airbnb’s global head of policy, wrote

    “They’ll call us slumlords and tax cheats. They might even say we all faked the moon landing”.

    If the shoe fits, wear it. The moon landing thing sounds like a diversion, but given this company’s track record, I’d recommend that the taxing authorities check it out anyway.
    Robert Groble.
    Licensed Vacation Rental Owner and Operator..

    • Jabon

      Everything you have said is right, save for reporting income to the IRS.

      Airbnb sends the host a 1099-K, and reports the income to the IRS. They have been doing this since 2009, a year after they started.


  6. Timothy O'Neil-Dunne

    Law and Order or the Establishment vs the Upstart Rebel Army, Or…?

    It really is about time that the world stops treating AirBnB as nice and cuddly and its leadership as fighting for the little guy.

    The reality is that the product IS what people want – but AirBnB didn’t want to pay the price as the rest of the industry players. Price here is in paying taxes and adhering to local and national regulations for hospitality. Unfair competition is just that – unfair. The law is not an ass here – it is long established and very clear for obvious reasons. Protection of the consumer, protection for the community and the appropriate payment of taxes which funds our social services amongst other things are responsible things to do. Not doing it is plain bad.

    This is not an indictment on the sharing economy. P2P is fine provided that the principles and rules laid down are adhered to. AirBnB is not just facilitating out of the goodness of its heart. It is a money making machine. If it was truly altruistic then it would be a non-profit (just like Craigslist).

    So please everyone – let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that this is a battle over good vs evil, old school vs new school etc. If it is then perhaps the evil ones went over to the dark side a long time ago IE the day they started collecting money.

    The day that AirBnB starts behaving like a proper hospitality company and complies with local regulations is the day I for one will cheer. Compliance should not be based on “doing bad things until you are forced to stop”. I hardly doubt it (compliance) is going to put a serious dent in anyone’s mega-fortune. However one has to ask why they didn’t do this in the first place. Other P2P companies such as ZipCar did. Enquiring minds really would like to know.

    Cheers and thanks for bringing this story to light.


    • Kathy Chaplin

      airbnb is a marketing business. As with many other Bed and Breakfasts marketing venues their mandate is to promote and advertise a business, period They do not require members to be licensed, health and fire inspected or pay taxes. It is the folks owning these businesses that are operating illegally. Airbnb and the other like minded promoters should be obligated to give the tax man, health and fire officials, etc. their list of members so all the local legalities can be checked by the powers that be..


      • J Breaux

        Kathy, owners who use AirBnB do pay taxes. They receive a 1099 from AirBnB each year and income is reported to the IRS. AirBnB also has a “corporate” section that owners can use but requires certain health and safety items in order to be include – such as smoke/fire detectors, fire extinguishers, etc. I do agree that if it is to be more successful owner/operators should be mandated to have a license of some sort so that cities could count units. Sounds a bit Orwellian, but I guess that’s the new American way.


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