Is sharing really caring? The effects of Airbnb on local real estate

The term “sharing economy” might be something that you always hear nowadays. Sharing economy refers to the sharing of assets and services of people through the means of the internet. We have seen it change the transportation system through apps such as Uber and Grab. Now, the sharing economy is also influencing the world of real estate.

In 2008, roommates Brain Chesky and Joe Gebbia started a small start-up using an air mattress and a free breakfast option. This small business idea became USD 30 billion company called Airbnb. You might have heard or used Airbnb whenever you try to search for properties for rent for your holiday or business trip. Airbnb allows users to book a place directly from an owner for a cheaper price compared to hotels and other establishments. As of 2016, there were more than 2.3 million listings available on the website in 191 countries.

Because of the affordable pricing, the convenience, and the immersive experience, people are hooked on using sharing apps such as Airbnb. The Philippines is one of the countries that are now using apps such as Airbnb. Aside from apps, there are also a rise in the use of property portals where users can easily search for property, view photos, and contact the seller. The convenience are all brought by the innovations of technology and the internet.

But not everything is perfect in this utopia that Airbnb is creating. Accusations of racist hosts, thieving renters, and poor facilities are all over the internet, causing users to take a step back from using the service. It’s also driving real estate to the wall. Because renting out apartments using the app brings huge amount of money, landlords are now renting out their apartments for tourists and not to people who actually need a home. Because of this, real estate prices become higher since the supply may not be able to hold up the demand.

There are few complaints about Airbnb hosts and guests in the Philippines. But the local government is taking notice of how the app may affect the local real estate. In 2015, the Philippine Hotel Owners Association (PHOA)  asserted a plea Department of Tourism (DOT) to mandate legislations  for websites like Airbnb. Lack of laws for online rental services can put users to danger, according to the association. Arturo P. Boncato Jr., DOT assistant secretary for Mindanao cited the Canadian Province of Quebec which has a law that required the same hotel taxes be put upon on Airbnb establishments. The association also mentioned that Airbnb establishments in the Philippines lack rules and decorum on dealing with guests which can lead to neglecting the needs of the customers.

It’s easy to see why everyone is hooked on the website. Airbnb and websites that follow this format emanate a sense of community and truly embodied the old adage of sharing is caring. But the lack of rules and supervision can possibly bring harm to both hosts and users. Airbnb is perfect legally in the Philippines and can be a great way to earn some extra money, but it’s important for users, regardless of if they are renters or guests, to be vigilant when using the service.

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