To the Editor:
I remember when Airbnb got started [“Legislators: Don’t leave Guilderland residents, enforcers, and zoning board members up in the air on short-term rentals,” The Altamont Enterprise, Dec. 13, 2023]. It was an innovative way for people to help meet rent or mortgages by renting an unused room or two. I used it when traveling to Scotland and England and had almost all positive experiences.
Staying with families using their extra room meant meeting people. I’ve gone for beers and cooked and eaten dinner with my hosts, and gotten advice on sights to see. Once, when it was raining hard and I didn’t want to go back out to a restaurant for dinner, my hostess cooked something for me — while I sat on her kitchen floor and combed mats from her border collie.
The past few years, when I’ve gone to book a stay I’ve had to search through listings to find something interesting, as more and more properties are being run as investments and owners may live nowhere near. They are often set up with lockbox keys, so one need not meet a person at all.
I find this a much less interesting experience. It also has the effect of removing properties from the housing market, which can change neighborhoods; many countries are imposing restrictions on short-term rentals to prevent this.
I don’t have a place I want to rent or any direct interest in the proposed rules relating to Airbnbs. But it would be too bad to see such a promising idea prohibited entirely, especially with mortgages and rentals so expensive. Limiting short-term rentals to the owner’s primary residence might be a way to continue the benefits.