Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The Airbnb Effect

Paris Martineau, Wired:

“If this happens by law you are not obligated to talk to them. Keep walking and do not answer their questions,” read the sign. “They will try to intimidate you and tell you that they need to check for fire hazards in the house but these are all tricks to get in the house … They might even tell you they are the police but this is illegal, they are not the police. DO NOT LET ANYONE IN THE HOUSE. Let’s keep Airbnb alive! :) ”

By the time a guest disobeyed the sign, things had gotten dire. On May 3, inspectors from the city building department and the Office of Special Enforcement found three guests from South Carolina accidentally locked into their room on the first floor, trapping them in the building; the inspectors also found two guests from Brooklyn and two guests from Singapore in different rooms on the second floor—all of whom had booked stays through Airbnb—according to affidavits filed by the inspectors.

The inspectors smelled gas and called the fire department, which found a gas leak, according to inspectors’ affidavits. The commissioner of the building department ordered the second floor vacated after a review determined that the conditions described in the inspectors’ report were “imminently perilous to life, public safety or the safety of the occupants or danger to property,” according to court documents. The illegally constructed extra rooms lacked required exits, sprinklers, and fire alarms, “rendering apartment unsafe to occupy,” the documents say.

Tom Cardoso and Matt Lundy, the Globe and Mail:

More than 31,000 homes across the country were rented out so often on Airbnb in 2018 that they were likely removed from the long-term rental supply, according to a groundbreaking study by McGill University researchers.

Put another way, that’s more than enough homes for everyone in North Vancouver.

As the popularity of short-term rentals has soared, the effect on rental supply in Canada’s cities, towns and rural areas has grown, according to the study. Shared exclusively with The Globe and Mail, the report is the most comprehensive analysis of Airbnb’s impact to date, and reveals the extent of the global rental service’s footprint, even as local officials implement rules that target the short-term rental industry.

The gig economy’s forecast looks less like a great way to make some money on the side using assets already at your disposal, and more like an anarchic app-connected version of industries that can’t really be “disrupted” to an extent beyond being made more dangerous with less job security for everyone involved.