Megan McArdle describes the understandable discomfort that some tenants and property owners have about Airbnb’ers coming into their buildings.

Airbnb will naturally drive up rents in places where it’s being used. If a tenant has the capacity to pay (e.g.) $2000 for an apartment, but can get an additional (e.g.) $300 a month, the tenant’s capacity to pay is now $2300.

A savvy landlord or condo association would want to capture this. Because it’s new, it’s seen as a disturbance. A little bit of thinking would reveal that there is now $XXX new money coming in the door (due to better utilization of the property).

It’s in the owners’ ultimate interest to figure out how to either a) accommodate this explicitly and safely, and capture some of the new revenue or b) prohibit it because the tenants prefer it that way, but understand that the price of a “non-shared” building will carry a premium.

One way a condo association might sell the idea to co-tenants is to point out that the new Airbnb money might be used for building upgrades or to reduce condo fees.

They might set up rules that only Airbnb’ers of a specified high rating may be allowed. They might limit the total number of nights per month. They might upgrade their keying systems.

I’d also point out that Airbnb’ers are likely nothing special, behavior-wise. I have recalcitrant noisy neighbors (across the courtyard out back) who are legitimate, paying leaseholders. There will be a non-zero and manageable amount of problems, but not more than the status quo.

Another way this is nothing new: some single-family homeowners raise an eyebrow at condos; some owners raise looks askance at renters, and down the line. They are trade-offs with pros and cons.

It seems clear there is a net economic gain in sharing real estate. The challenge is for parties to agree on the distribution of that gain, seeing beyond the natural status quo bias.

discuss on hacker news

PS: a commenter on HN (on Megan’s original story) mentions that Fannie & Freddie, the ultimate buyers of many mortgages, wouldn’t countenance this, and this would hamper the whole market. True?