Letter to the Editor: My Experience With Airbnb

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By DesignStudio (Airbnb's Design Department) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

I found James Oaksun, article “Real Estate: The New World Versus The Old” very interesting and thought I would share some thought on my experience with Airbinb.

I rented my house through Airbnb through the 2015-16 high season and my overall experience was very positive. I was very careful when approving a guest request.

Most of my guests were from other countries and were either adult couples between 40-60 or families with one or two children. I made a conscious decision not to rent to gay men which might sound kind of weird considering I am a gay man.

The primary reason I did this is because most gay men traveling to South Florida come here to party and play which I totally understand. I live in a nice house on the water in a quite neighborhood and was somewhat concerned with loud parties that would impose on my very gracious neighbors. My main concern was that I wouldn't feel comfortable with guests who are strangers who would perhaps go on a social hook up site like Grindr and invite other strangers into my home. Keep in mind I wasn't sharing my house with guests so they had the entire house to themselves. I struggled with this decision and would be interested how others feel.

My home was rented out during the entire season and the guest I had took very good care of it and my reviews were excellent.

There are some specifics to Mr. Oaksun's story that I'd like to point out. Airbnb and other sites like that are definitely not a cash business. When someone makes a reservation they do it through Airbnb and Airbnb holds the money in a escrow account until the first day after the guests arrive. Then the funds are transferred into the host bank account. Airbnb deducts their fees and also takes care of Florida's 6 percent sales tax. The host is responsible for the 5 percent hospitality tax and Airbnb provides a 1099 and other documentation for the host and the IRS. The entire process is very organized and seamless which is how they can account for the $16 million South Florida received in taxes.

Another very important issue to be aware of is your homestead exemption. Because my home was going to be rented out for 6 months, I made the mistake of changing my address to my P.O. Box. When Broward's Homestead exemption letters are sent out every November they have to go to the property address or they are sent back. I was investigated and they even sent someone to my house when guests were staying here. I lost my homestead exemption for 2016 but they will bridge my rates from 2015 provided I don't rent my house.

Sorry about this lengthy letter but I hope it's helpful to others.

 

Regards,

Lary Arnett


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