In 2007, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia decided to rent out air mattresses in their San Francisco apartment to conference attendees after all hotel rooms in the area were booked. They called the air mattress rental service “Air Bed and Breakfast.”
Just a year later, the two men founded Airbnb, an online marketplace that acts as a broker for short and long-term rentals. When Airbnb first started, it gave homeowners an opportunity to make extra cash while renting out their space, and it offered customers a fun and affordable alternative to the traditional hotel room.
However, as Airbnb gained popularity, it caused major disruptions to the hotel industry – but that’s not the only entity Airbnb has disrupted. Many South Floridians have watched Airbnbs pop up across residential neighborhoods, and they are feeling both the positive and negative effects.
How it Works
Airbnb is a popular vacation rental service that allows property owners to list their spaces for rent to people seeking short and long-term rentals. Some property owners rent out their entire home, while others rent out a room or two.
While Airbnb and other vacation rental services like VRBO provide people with flexible and versatile rental options, there are many infamous problems with the services. For example, Airbnbs are often associated with unauthorized parties, loud noise, crime, and other safety concerns.
What Oakland Park Residents Have to Say Short-Term Rentals in the Area
With 7 out of the 10 cities with the most Airbnb listings being in Florida, residents are no strangers to the problems (and the solutions) that Airbnb brings.
In a recent Facebook post, Oakland Park residents shared their varying opinions regarding the rise of Airbnb in the community. Most opinions are in regard to three main areas: the economy, crime and safety, and a sense of community.
One of the biggest controversies is related to how Airbnb affects the economy. A proponent of Airbnb says, “In this inflated economy, anything that helps folks create an additional income stream I’m all for it!”.
But others look at this issue differently. While Airbnb gives residents the ability to make income, some believe Airbnb is directly contributing to inflation. As one resident explains, “Fewer homes available to buy/rent just leads to higher prices.”
Another resident says, “What’s more important? Investors making money or “affordable” housing? These short-term rentals are one of the factors contributing to making this area officially THE most unaffordable place to live in the entire country.”
In some cases, Airbnbs aren’t even owned by local residents. As another Oakland Park resident explains, “The majority of Airbnb & VRBO properties in a Fort Lauderdale neighborhood are owned by large companies that do this large scale worldwide. It’s a shady industry. A good many companies are offshore.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, investment firms bought up a large portion of vacation homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, aiming to profit from the growing demand for tourists and remote workers.
Many locals are fine with Airbnbs that are owned by their neighbors, but they aren’t okay with having homes bought up by investment companies. “I’m in favor of individuals owning 1 or 2 Airbnbs for income, not in favor of companies owning dozens of them.” – OP Resident
Crime and Safety
Other concerns take safety into consideration. One resident claims they have had issues where the Airbnb guests have come over to their pool, despite it being gated. Another resident says, “They are loud and unsafe for kids in the street playing!”.
Some people even report being threatened by Airbnb renters. “Last July we had a group threaten my husband because he asked them to stop shooting fireworks towards our house at 1 AM in the morning.”
While many residents are concerned about safety, especially after two incidents related to Airbnbs and crime were reported in the news in May, others say that crime is everywhere, and it happens daily regardless of whether or not there are Airbnbs in the area or not. A resident asks how is “people being ignorant and breaking the law…Airbnb’s fault… should we not allow schools, banks, and streets?… because people get shot and crimes happen everywhere.”
Sense of Community
Residents are also concerned about the way short-term rentals have changed their neighborhood’s sense of community. One resident explains, “The Airbnb’s are destroying the neighborhoods and it’s sad. I don’t know what people were thinking to put vacation rentals basically into residential neighborhoods, if we wanted to live in a vacation neighborhood rental area we would have bought there, but we chose to live in a residential neighborhood.”
The prevalence of parties organized by guests has become a central concern driving the sentiments of Oakland Park residents against vacation rental platforms. The community has witnessed a surge in disruptive gatherings that often result in noise disturbances, property damage, and safety risks. Residents find themselves grappling with the implications of these events, which can disrupt the peaceful atmosphere and sense of security within their neighborhoods.
Airbnb is not ignoring that concern, though. In August 2020 the platform announced a temporary ban on all parties and events in listings globally as a public health measure because of COVID-19. But the policy seems to have worked and it has become a codified policy. “We believe there is a direct correlation between our implementation of the policy in August 2020 and a 44% year-over-year drop in the rate of party reports. The ban has been well received by our Host community and we’ve received positive feedback from community leaders and elected officials”, a statement published on the website says.
According to Airbnb in the same statement, the policy will continue to include serious consequences for guests who attempt to violate these rules, varying from account suspension to full removal from the platform. In 2021, over 6,600 guests were suspended from Airbnb for attempting to violate the party ban.
As a reminder, a resident points out that South Florida is a vacation destination, after all. “If you don’t want to live in an area where people vacation then feel free to move out of Florida!”.
The Bottom Line
In the end, it seems as though everyone has their own opinion and experiences with Airbnb, but most of the time it comes down to the owner of the Airbnb.
Owners that live in the home (or have someone managing it), enforce rules, and take the proper security measures have more control over what goes on in and around their property while also keeping neighboring residences safe. Owners who allow their Airbnb to be a free-for-all, however, can wreak havoc on the community.