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Short-Term Rental Update: Vacasa reaches unicorn status with its latest funding round; Airbnb bans 'party houses'

We have some great updates in the STR space this week, including:

Vacasa Reaches Unicorn Status
(“Real estate’s newest unicorn: Vacasa raises $319 million, now valued at more than $1 billion,” HousingWire on Nov 1, 2019)
Another huge congratulations to the Vacasa team, who recently closed a $319 million Series C funding round, putting the company's valuation at more than $1 billion. The company now manages 23,000 vacation homes. CEO Eric Breon commented, “We’re uniquely positioned to assist our homeowners through the entire lifecycle of their vacation home and are dedicated to continued advancement of our technology to meet the needs of our customers.” We look forward to seeing what’s next for Vacasa.

Airbnb Bans 'Party Houses'
(“Airbnb bans 'party houses' after California killings,” The Philadelphia Inquirer on Nov 4, 2019)
Earlier this month, Airbnb received bad press after five people died in a shooting outside of a house party in San Francisco. The company quickly responded, promising to crack down on "party house" rentals, including screening high-risk reservations flagged by its risk detection technology, implementing a “party house” rapid response team and removing users who violate guest policies. Like any shared economy, it only works if users feel safe. It was positive to see Airbnb react so quickly to this tragedy.


Other news:

Industry News

Airbnb to Pay Funeral Expenses for Orinda Victims
East Bay Times on Nov 8, 2019
Airbnb has agreed to pay for funeral expenses for the five people killed in last week’s Orinda shooting, even as victims’ families decry the company’s policies that they argue led to the massacre in the first place.

Airbnb CEO Pledges to Verify 100 Percent of Listings by 2020
AdWeek on Nov 6, 2019
After a week of (particularly) bad press, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky has announced the home-sharing service will be taking the “most significant steps towards designing trust on our platform” since launching in 2008.

Granicus Buys Short-Term Rental Compliance Software Company
Government Technology on Nov 12, 2019
Host Compliance, a San Francisco-based company whose software helps governments monitor short-term rental properties, is the latest addition to Granicus’ growing suite of software tools for interfacing with citizens.

How Start-Up SpyGuy Helps Find Cameras Hidden in Airbnb Rentals
Compliance X on Nov 11, 2019
Airbnb is hugely popular, but at least one drawback is top of mind for travelers who use the short-term rental marketplace. A recent survey showed that 58 percent of people who use Airbnb are worried about hidden cameras being stashed in their lodgings.

Airbnb's Easily Gamed Reputation System and Poor Customer Service Allow Scammers to Thrive
Boing Boing on Nov 1, 2019
Vice's Allie Conti got scammed by an Airbnb host who promised her a really nice place, then made up a story about its toilets being clogged and shifted her to a derelict, filthy wreck of a house.

Regulation & Legal Developments

Airbnb Lost by a Landslide in Jersey City. What Went Wrong?
The Real Deal - New York on Nov 7, 2019
It was a significant defeat for the home-sharing startup in what had become a symbolic fight. After Airbnb was welcomed into Jersey City in 2015, listings ballooned from 300 to 3,000 — many of them commercial operators who had come from New York City to escape strict regulations, according to Mayor Fulop.

Legislative Panel Considers Restoring Local Right to Regulate Short-Term Rentals
Arizona Daily Star News on Oct 31, 2019
A legislative panel is debating whether to restore the right of cities and towns to regulate short-term vacation rentals, which legislators and Gov. Doug Ducey took away three years ago.

LA Throws Airbnb Hosts Lifeline at Rent-Stabilized Homes, But There’s a Catch

The Real Deal - Los Angeles on Oct 30, 2019
In Los Angeles, there is never complete clarity on the issue of short-term rentals. On Wednesday, the City Council unanimously approved an eleventh-hour motion to let Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms operate at thousands of owner-occupied homes that are rent-stabilized.

Enforcement

Winners vs. Losers: Ottawa's Airbnb Crackdown
Ottawa Citizen on Nov 12, 2019
Potentially hundreds of short-term rental hosts are on the cusp of being strong-armed out of Ottawa’s accommodation market as the municipal government moves closer to adopting new restrictions. The community and protective services committee on Friday will be asked to endorse a proposal to heavily regulate short-term accommodations.

Council Will Hold Hearings After Airbnb Found in Housing Authority building
Crain's NY - Biotech & Pharmaceuticals News on Nov 11, 2019
The City Council will hold a hearing on the prevalence of Airbnb in public housing following a report that a NYCHA apartment was rented on the site. Councilman Ritchie Torres announced plans for a hearing on Twitter Saturday.

LA City Council Approves Compliance Platform Agreement With Airbnb
Los Angeles Sentinel on Nov 8, 2019
In an agreement with Airbnb vendors in Los Angeles, the City Council approved a plan to create a compliance platform with the company under the city’s short-term rental ordinance. The platform will streamline the registration process for hosts, promote compliance and will automate enforcement, Airbnb representatives said.

Airbnb Agrees to Provide Host Records to Hawaii as the State Tracks Down Unpaid Taxes
TIME Business on Nov 5, 2019
Airbnb Inc. has agreed to provide Hawaii with records of many of its island hosts as the state tries to track down vacation rental operators who haven’t been paying their taxes.

Expedia, Bookings and TripAdvisor Should Join Airbnb in Forcing Hosts to License, Says Vancouver Staff

Vancouver Sun - Headlines on Nov 4, 2019
The Mayor of Vancouver should ask online short-term rental businesses Expedia, Bookings and TripAdvisor to join Airbnb in ensuring all hosts have a business license, says the city’s chief license inspector.

Airbnb Launching New Registration System to Help Portland Keep Track of Rental Hosts
Oregon Live - Business News on Nov 1, 2019
Airbnb is launching a new online registration system for Portland users Friday, putting the company on track to meet its deadline with the city to start disclosing information about its short-term rental hosts.

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We regularly update clients about changes in real estate law and on industry trends. This includes briefing clients on legislative proposals in the federal tax, housing and other legal areas affecting their businesses. Staying current enables you to anticipate and prevent legal problems as well as capitalize on new developments.
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