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Taco 'Bout Success: The Taco Bell Takeover

Taco 'Bout Success: The Taco Bell Takeover


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Celebrating 50 years of Taco Bell history

If you’re like most college students, chances are you’ve indulged in at least one late-night fast-food run during your college career. Each year, Americans spend more than $110 billion on fast food alone, and the Taco Bell empire has long been a fan favorite.

The first Taco Bell opened in Downey, Calif., on March 21, 1962, taking its name from 23-year-old founder Glen Bell. March of this year marked Taco Bell’s 50th anniversary of serving up tasty burritos, tacos, nachos, and more to hungry late-night diners. In fact, the U.S. is so hungry for Taco Bell, that if you were to take every Taco Bell item served over the course of one year and line them all up end to end, that line would circle the globe more than 22 times. Even if you aren’t a regular customer, nearly 168 million people (half of the U.S. population) see a Taco Bell commercial at least once a week. From the infamous slogan "Yo quiero Taco Bell" to the ingenious institution of "Fourthmeal," Taco Bell has found its way into the culture (and the hearts) of people throughout the U.S. To some, Taco Bell is merely a 1 a.m. destination for hungry students, but the truth is that it’s so much more. Over the years, Taco Bell has innovated and updated their menu constantly, from the irresistible and inventive Crunchwrap Supreme to the sensible, guilt-free Drive-Thru Diet menu. Most recently, Taco Bell rolled out their newest addition to their much-loved lineup: The Doritos Locos Taco, a traditional taco encased in a nacho cheese Doritos-shell. Could there possibly be a better duo? The Doritos Locos Tacos warranted a great deal of fanfare, and even received its own Twitter hashtag: #doritoslocostacos, much to the delight of Taco Bell’s 175,000 Twitter followers.

Whether you’re a loyal T-Bell aficionado or you haven’t hit the drive-thru in years, check out the following infographic on the much-loved empire — and don’t be surprised if you suddenly find yourself craving a taco!


Created by: HackCollege.com


How Airbnb took over the world

R owan Hughes stayed in Airbnb accommodation on holidays for several years before she decided to make some extra cash from her own home in south-east London. When refurbishing the property, she created a room with an en-suite bathroom and its own front door, listing it on the accommodation-sharing platform at the start of this year.

Hughes, 37, considered getting a lodger, but using Airbnb offered the flexibility to reclaim the room when her own friends and family came to stay. So far, she has mainly attracted business travellers, who prefer her homely atmosphere and £50-a-night charge to nearby chain hotels where soulless rooms cost significantly more.

“I make it clear on the listing that it’s a family home, so guests know what to expect,” she said. “It’s still early days but it has been great. It brings in some extra cash for holidays or things for the children, and it’s a competitive price for my visitors. It works for everyone, and I don’t want to be greedy.”

Hughes is exactly the kind of host the founders of Airbnb had in mind when they launched the business in 2008. Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky dreamed up the idea of a website that would allow people to rent out a spare room for the odd night or two after they charged three guests $80 each to sleep on airbeds in their San Francisco apartment when every hotel room in the city was taken.

Eleven years on, Airbnb’s site lists more than six million rooms, flats and houses in more than 81,000 cities across the globe. On average, two million people rest their heads in an Airbnb property each night – half a billion since 2008.

London, Paris and New York have the biggest number of listings, but Airbnb accommodation is available in Mandalay, Ulaanbaatar and Brazzaville.

Last year, Forbes estimated the business to be worth $31bn (£23bn). In the coming months, Airbnb is expected to become a listed company, with an initial public offering netting enormous wealth for Gebbia, Chesky and co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk.

But Airbnb’s extraordinary success has not been welcomed unreservedly. Some residents in areas with a big Airbnb presence claim the business is hollowing out communities by forcing up rents and limiting availability for people seeking long-term lets, and importing large numbers of tourists who display scant interest in courtesy to their temporary neighbours.

Social media and websites such as airbnbhell.com abound with stories from hosts, guests and neighbours of excessive noise, trashed homes, wild parties, last-minute cancellations and scams. But they are matched by positive experiences from satisfied travellers who have found affordable alternatives to hotel rooms.

Many local authorities are implementing or exploring regulation to mitigate the negative impact of short-term rentals.

In London – where more than 77,000 homes are listed on Airbnb, a fourfold increase since 2015 – mayor Sadiq Khan last month called for a registration scheme for people renting properties on a short-term basis. Since 2015, a legal cap of 90 nights a year for short-term rentals in London has been in place, but it has proved almost impossible to enforce.

Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk and Brian Chesky, the co-founders of Airbnb, are set to become enormously wealthy when the company becomes listed. Photograph: Airbnb

City Hall acknowledged that the 2.2 million guests who stayed in short-term rentals in the year to July 2018 generated £1.3bn for the local economy, but said the time had come for a mandatory registration system for hosts and zero tolerance for those trying to flout the 90-night limit.

James Murray, deputy mayor for housing, told the Observer: “In principle, a good balance can be struck. Londoners can make a bit of extra money by renting out their homes, and visitors can have more options for places to stay. But that does have to be balanced against protecting long-term rented housing in London and the impact on neighbours of people coming and going. In some areas, the balance is not being struck.”

Airbnb – which backed the mayor’s call – takes measures to enforce the 90-night cap with its hosts. Other accommodation platforms are less compliant, the mayor’s office said.

An Airbnb spokesperson said the company wanted to be “a good partner to the places in which our hosts live. We have already collaborated and worked with over 500 governments to help hosts share their homes and follow the rules.”

The spokesperson said “countless studies” had shown that Airbnb had no significant impact on housing, adding: “We always welcome working with local authorities and partners on how we can ensure hosting and home sharing continues to grow responsibly and sustainably, and help spread the benefits of tourism to local families, small businesses and their communities.”.

Last week an adviser to the European Court of Justice said the company – which is registered in Ireland – should be regarded as a digital service provider rather than a real estate business. This could exempt it from onerous regulation. Airbnb has spawned competitors though none has matched its scale. Marriott International recently said it would become the first global hotel chain to launch a home-rental business. Hilton and Hyatt are considering similar moves.

Meanwhile, Airbnb is moving into the hotel business, partnering a New York developer to turn commercial properties in the city into a “new category of urban lodging”. The first venture will be to convert 10 floors of the Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan into “high-end apartment-style suites”.

At the other end of the spectrum, Fairbnb, a co-operative “seeking to create a just alternative to existing home-sharing platforms”, will launch in five European cities next month. The venture is committed to sustainability, transparency and compliance with local and national legislation. Its hosts will be permitted to advertise only their own homes, and the co-op’s 15% commission fee will help local development projects.

Fairbnb is perhaps closer to Gebbia and Chesky’s original vision for community-based tourism than the behemoth that Airbnb has become. Although most Airbnb hosts in the UK – 76% – let out their own homes for extra cash, the platform is increasingly used by business people who own or manage multiple properties.

Housing activists and analysts say that some landlords have shifted from offering long-term tenancies to more profitable short-term lets. In some places, they say, properties are being turned into de facto hotels or hostels, with locks on individual rooms, to maximise income.

In London, according to database Inside Airbnb, 11 hosts have more than 100 properties listed on the site. Almost a quarter of London hosts list five or more properties. Other big cities show similar trends.

Alex, 31, who has two central London properties on Airbnb, hopes to expand. “I see this as the future. It’s not so attractive to let properties now,” he said, citing the government’s increased taxation of buy-to-let property. A lot of landlords have had to sell up, but those who’ve managed to stay afloat have had to get creative. From the standpoint of making a profit, Airbnb is a good thing.”


How Airbnb took over the world

R owan Hughes stayed in Airbnb accommodation on holidays for several years before she decided to make some extra cash from her own home in south-east London. When refurbishing the property, she created a room with an en-suite bathroom and its own front door, listing it on the accommodation-sharing platform at the start of this year.

Hughes, 37, considered getting a lodger, but using Airbnb offered the flexibility to reclaim the room when her own friends and family came to stay. So far, she has mainly attracted business travellers, who prefer her homely atmosphere and £50-a-night charge to nearby chain hotels where soulless rooms cost significantly more.

“I make it clear on the listing that it’s a family home, so guests know what to expect,” she said. “It’s still early days but it has been great. It brings in some extra cash for holidays or things for the children, and it’s a competitive price for my visitors. It works for everyone, and I don’t want to be greedy.”

Hughes is exactly the kind of host the founders of Airbnb had in mind when they launched the business in 2008. Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky dreamed up the idea of a website that would allow people to rent out a spare room for the odd night or two after they charged three guests $80 each to sleep on airbeds in their San Francisco apartment when every hotel room in the city was taken.

Eleven years on, Airbnb’s site lists more than six million rooms, flats and houses in more than 81,000 cities across the globe. On average, two million people rest their heads in an Airbnb property each night – half a billion since 2008.

London, Paris and New York have the biggest number of listings, but Airbnb accommodation is available in Mandalay, Ulaanbaatar and Brazzaville.

Last year, Forbes estimated the business to be worth $31bn (£23bn). In the coming months, Airbnb is expected to become a listed company, with an initial public offering netting enormous wealth for Gebbia, Chesky and co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk.

But Airbnb’s extraordinary success has not been welcomed unreservedly. Some residents in areas with a big Airbnb presence claim the business is hollowing out communities by forcing up rents and limiting availability for people seeking long-term lets, and importing large numbers of tourists who display scant interest in courtesy to their temporary neighbours.

Social media and websites such as airbnbhell.com abound with stories from hosts, guests and neighbours of excessive noise, trashed homes, wild parties, last-minute cancellations and scams. But they are matched by positive experiences from satisfied travellers who have found affordable alternatives to hotel rooms.

Many local authorities are implementing or exploring regulation to mitigate the negative impact of short-term rentals.

In London – where more than 77,000 homes are listed on Airbnb, a fourfold increase since 2015 – mayor Sadiq Khan last month called for a registration scheme for people renting properties on a short-term basis. Since 2015, a legal cap of 90 nights a year for short-term rentals in London has been in place, but it has proved almost impossible to enforce.

Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk and Brian Chesky, the co-founders of Airbnb, are set to become enormously wealthy when the company becomes listed. Photograph: Airbnb

City Hall acknowledged that the 2.2 million guests who stayed in short-term rentals in the year to July 2018 generated £1.3bn for the local economy, but said the time had come for a mandatory registration system for hosts and zero tolerance for those trying to flout the 90-night limit.

James Murray, deputy mayor for housing, told the Observer: “In principle, a good balance can be struck. Londoners can make a bit of extra money by renting out their homes, and visitors can have more options for places to stay. But that does have to be balanced against protecting long-term rented housing in London and the impact on neighbours of people coming and going. In some areas, the balance is not being struck.”

Airbnb – which backed the mayor’s call – takes measures to enforce the 90-night cap with its hosts. Other accommodation platforms are less compliant, the mayor’s office said.

An Airbnb spokesperson said the company wanted to be “a good partner to the places in which our hosts live. We have already collaborated and worked with over 500 governments to help hosts share their homes and follow the rules.”

The spokesperson said “countless studies” had shown that Airbnb had no significant impact on housing, adding: “We always welcome working with local authorities and partners on how we can ensure hosting and home sharing continues to grow responsibly and sustainably, and help spread the benefits of tourism to local families, small businesses and their communities.”.

Last week an adviser to the European Court of Justice said the company – which is registered in Ireland – should be regarded as a digital service provider rather than a real estate business. This could exempt it from onerous regulation. Airbnb has spawned competitors though none has matched its scale. Marriott International recently said it would become the first global hotel chain to launch a home-rental business. Hilton and Hyatt are considering similar moves.

Meanwhile, Airbnb is moving into the hotel business, partnering a New York developer to turn commercial properties in the city into a “new category of urban lodging”. The first venture will be to convert 10 floors of the Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan into “high-end apartment-style suites”.

At the other end of the spectrum, Fairbnb, a co-operative “seeking to create a just alternative to existing home-sharing platforms”, will launch in five European cities next month. The venture is committed to sustainability, transparency and compliance with local and national legislation. Its hosts will be permitted to advertise only their own homes, and the co-op’s 15% commission fee will help local development projects.

Fairbnb is perhaps closer to Gebbia and Chesky’s original vision for community-based tourism than the behemoth that Airbnb has become. Although most Airbnb hosts in the UK – 76% – let out their own homes for extra cash, the platform is increasingly used by business people who own or manage multiple properties.

Housing activists and analysts say that some landlords have shifted from offering long-term tenancies to more profitable short-term lets. In some places, they say, properties are being turned into de facto hotels or hostels, with locks on individual rooms, to maximise income.

In London, according to database Inside Airbnb, 11 hosts have more than 100 properties listed on the site. Almost a quarter of London hosts list five or more properties. Other big cities show similar trends.

Alex, 31, who has two central London properties on Airbnb, hopes to expand. “I see this as the future. It’s not so attractive to let properties now,” he said, citing the government’s increased taxation of buy-to-let property. A lot of landlords have had to sell up, but those who’ve managed to stay afloat have had to get creative. From the standpoint of making a profit, Airbnb is a good thing.”


How Airbnb took over the world

R owan Hughes stayed in Airbnb accommodation on holidays for several years before she decided to make some extra cash from her own home in south-east London. When refurbishing the property, she created a room with an en-suite bathroom and its own front door, listing it on the accommodation-sharing platform at the start of this year.

Hughes, 37, considered getting a lodger, but using Airbnb offered the flexibility to reclaim the room when her own friends and family came to stay. So far, she has mainly attracted business travellers, who prefer her homely atmosphere and £50-a-night charge to nearby chain hotels where soulless rooms cost significantly more.

“I make it clear on the listing that it’s a family home, so guests know what to expect,” she said. “It’s still early days but it has been great. It brings in some extra cash for holidays or things for the children, and it’s a competitive price for my visitors. It works for everyone, and I don’t want to be greedy.”

Hughes is exactly the kind of host the founders of Airbnb had in mind when they launched the business in 2008. Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky dreamed up the idea of a website that would allow people to rent out a spare room for the odd night or two after they charged three guests $80 each to sleep on airbeds in their San Francisco apartment when every hotel room in the city was taken.

Eleven years on, Airbnb’s site lists more than six million rooms, flats and houses in more than 81,000 cities across the globe. On average, two million people rest their heads in an Airbnb property each night – half a billion since 2008.

London, Paris and New York have the biggest number of listings, but Airbnb accommodation is available in Mandalay, Ulaanbaatar and Brazzaville.

Last year, Forbes estimated the business to be worth $31bn (£23bn). In the coming months, Airbnb is expected to become a listed company, with an initial public offering netting enormous wealth for Gebbia, Chesky and co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk.

But Airbnb’s extraordinary success has not been welcomed unreservedly. Some residents in areas with a big Airbnb presence claim the business is hollowing out communities by forcing up rents and limiting availability for people seeking long-term lets, and importing large numbers of tourists who display scant interest in courtesy to their temporary neighbours.

Social media and websites such as airbnbhell.com abound with stories from hosts, guests and neighbours of excessive noise, trashed homes, wild parties, last-minute cancellations and scams. But they are matched by positive experiences from satisfied travellers who have found affordable alternatives to hotel rooms.

Many local authorities are implementing or exploring regulation to mitigate the negative impact of short-term rentals.

In London – where more than 77,000 homes are listed on Airbnb, a fourfold increase since 2015 – mayor Sadiq Khan last month called for a registration scheme for people renting properties on a short-term basis. Since 2015, a legal cap of 90 nights a year for short-term rentals in London has been in place, but it has proved almost impossible to enforce.

Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk and Brian Chesky, the co-founders of Airbnb, are set to become enormously wealthy when the company becomes listed. Photograph: Airbnb

City Hall acknowledged that the 2.2 million guests who stayed in short-term rentals in the year to July 2018 generated £1.3bn for the local economy, but said the time had come for a mandatory registration system for hosts and zero tolerance for those trying to flout the 90-night limit.

James Murray, deputy mayor for housing, told the Observer: “In principle, a good balance can be struck. Londoners can make a bit of extra money by renting out their homes, and visitors can have more options for places to stay. But that does have to be balanced against protecting long-term rented housing in London and the impact on neighbours of people coming and going. In some areas, the balance is not being struck.”

Airbnb – which backed the mayor’s call – takes measures to enforce the 90-night cap with its hosts. Other accommodation platforms are less compliant, the mayor’s office said.

An Airbnb spokesperson said the company wanted to be “a good partner to the places in which our hosts live. We have already collaborated and worked with over 500 governments to help hosts share their homes and follow the rules.”

The spokesperson said “countless studies” had shown that Airbnb had no significant impact on housing, adding: “We always welcome working with local authorities and partners on how we can ensure hosting and home sharing continues to grow responsibly and sustainably, and help spread the benefits of tourism to local families, small businesses and their communities.”.

Last week an adviser to the European Court of Justice said the company – which is registered in Ireland – should be regarded as a digital service provider rather than a real estate business. This could exempt it from onerous regulation. Airbnb has spawned competitors though none has matched its scale. Marriott International recently said it would become the first global hotel chain to launch a home-rental business. Hilton and Hyatt are considering similar moves.

Meanwhile, Airbnb is moving into the hotel business, partnering a New York developer to turn commercial properties in the city into a “new category of urban lodging”. The first venture will be to convert 10 floors of the Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan into “high-end apartment-style suites”.

At the other end of the spectrum, Fairbnb, a co-operative “seeking to create a just alternative to existing home-sharing platforms”, will launch in five European cities next month. The venture is committed to sustainability, transparency and compliance with local and national legislation. Its hosts will be permitted to advertise only their own homes, and the co-op’s 15% commission fee will help local development projects.

Fairbnb is perhaps closer to Gebbia and Chesky’s original vision for community-based tourism than the behemoth that Airbnb has become. Although most Airbnb hosts in the UK – 76% – let out their own homes for extra cash, the platform is increasingly used by business people who own or manage multiple properties.

Housing activists and analysts say that some landlords have shifted from offering long-term tenancies to more profitable short-term lets. In some places, they say, properties are being turned into de facto hotels or hostels, with locks on individual rooms, to maximise income.

In London, according to database Inside Airbnb, 11 hosts have more than 100 properties listed on the site. Almost a quarter of London hosts list five or more properties. Other big cities show similar trends.

Alex, 31, who has two central London properties on Airbnb, hopes to expand. “I see this as the future. It’s not so attractive to let properties now,” he said, citing the government’s increased taxation of buy-to-let property. A lot of landlords have had to sell up, but those who’ve managed to stay afloat have had to get creative. From the standpoint of making a profit, Airbnb is a good thing.”


How Airbnb took over the world

R owan Hughes stayed in Airbnb accommodation on holidays for several years before she decided to make some extra cash from her own home in south-east London. When refurbishing the property, she created a room with an en-suite bathroom and its own front door, listing it on the accommodation-sharing platform at the start of this year.

Hughes, 37, considered getting a lodger, but using Airbnb offered the flexibility to reclaim the room when her own friends and family came to stay. So far, she has mainly attracted business travellers, who prefer her homely atmosphere and £50-a-night charge to nearby chain hotels where soulless rooms cost significantly more.

“I make it clear on the listing that it’s a family home, so guests know what to expect,” she said. “It’s still early days but it has been great. It brings in some extra cash for holidays or things for the children, and it’s a competitive price for my visitors. It works for everyone, and I don’t want to be greedy.”

Hughes is exactly the kind of host the founders of Airbnb had in mind when they launched the business in 2008. Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky dreamed up the idea of a website that would allow people to rent out a spare room for the odd night or two after they charged three guests $80 each to sleep on airbeds in their San Francisco apartment when every hotel room in the city was taken.

Eleven years on, Airbnb’s site lists more than six million rooms, flats and houses in more than 81,000 cities across the globe. On average, two million people rest their heads in an Airbnb property each night – half a billion since 2008.

London, Paris and New York have the biggest number of listings, but Airbnb accommodation is available in Mandalay, Ulaanbaatar and Brazzaville.

Last year, Forbes estimated the business to be worth $31bn (£23bn). In the coming months, Airbnb is expected to become a listed company, with an initial public offering netting enormous wealth for Gebbia, Chesky and co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk.

But Airbnb’s extraordinary success has not been welcomed unreservedly. Some residents in areas with a big Airbnb presence claim the business is hollowing out communities by forcing up rents and limiting availability for people seeking long-term lets, and importing large numbers of tourists who display scant interest in courtesy to their temporary neighbours.

Social media and websites such as airbnbhell.com abound with stories from hosts, guests and neighbours of excessive noise, trashed homes, wild parties, last-minute cancellations and scams. But they are matched by positive experiences from satisfied travellers who have found affordable alternatives to hotel rooms.

Many local authorities are implementing or exploring regulation to mitigate the negative impact of short-term rentals.

In London – where more than 77,000 homes are listed on Airbnb, a fourfold increase since 2015 – mayor Sadiq Khan last month called for a registration scheme for people renting properties on a short-term basis. Since 2015, a legal cap of 90 nights a year for short-term rentals in London has been in place, but it has proved almost impossible to enforce.

Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk and Brian Chesky, the co-founders of Airbnb, are set to become enormously wealthy when the company becomes listed. Photograph: Airbnb

City Hall acknowledged that the 2.2 million guests who stayed in short-term rentals in the year to July 2018 generated £1.3bn for the local economy, but said the time had come for a mandatory registration system for hosts and zero tolerance for those trying to flout the 90-night limit.

James Murray, deputy mayor for housing, told the Observer: “In principle, a good balance can be struck. Londoners can make a bit of extra money by renting out their homes, and visitors can have more options for places to stay. But that does have to be balanced against protecting long-term rented housing in London and the impact on neighbours of people coming and going. In some areas, the balance is not being struck.”

Airbnb – which backed the mayor’s call – takes measures to enforce the 90-night cap with its hosts. Other accommodation platforms are less compliant, the mayor’s office said.

An Airbnb spokesperson said the company wanted to be “a good partner to the places in which our hosts live. We have already collaborated and worked with over 500 governments to help hosts share their homes and follow the rules.”

The spokesperson said “countless studies” had shown that Airbnb had no significant impact on housing, adding: “We always welcome working with local authorities and partners on how we can ensure hosting and home sharing continues to grow responsibly and sustainably, and help spread the benefits of tourism to local families, small businesses and their communities.”.

Last week an adviser to the European Court of Justice said the company – which is registered in Ireland – should be regarded as a digital service provider rather than a real estate business. This could exempt it from onerous regulation. Airbnb has spawned competitors though none has matched its scale. Marriott International recently said it would become the first global hotel chain to launch a home-rental business. Hilton and Hyatt are considering similar moves.

Meanwhile, Airbnb is moving into the hotel business, partnering a New York developer to turn commercial properties in the city into a “new category of urban lodging”. The first venture will be to convert 10 floors of the Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan into “high-end apartment-style suites”.

At the other end of the spectrum, Fairbnb, a co-operative “seeking to create a just alternative to existing home-sharing platforms”, will launch in five European cities next month. The venture is committed to sustainability, transparency and compliance with local and national legislation. Its hosts will be permitted to advertise only their own homes, and the co-op’s 15% commission fee will help local development projects.

Fairbnb is perhaps closer to Gebbia and Chesky’s original vision for community-based tourism than the behemoth that Airbnb has become. Although most Airbnb hosts in the UK – 76% – let out their own homes for extra cash, the platform is increasingly used by business people who own or manage multiple properties.

Housing activists and analysts say that some landlords have shifted from offering long-term tenancies to more profitable short-term lets. In some places, they say, properties are being turned into de facto hotels or hostels, with locks on individual rooms, to maximise income.

In London, according to database Inside Airbnb, 11 hosts have more than 100 properties listed on the site. Almost a quarter of London hosts list five or more properties. Other big cities show similar trends.

Alex, 31, who has two central London properties on Airbnb, hopes to expand. “I see this as the future. It’s not so attractive to let properties now,” he said, citing the government’s increased taxation of buy-to-let property. A lot of landlords have had to sell up, but those who’ve managed to stay afloat have had to get creative. From the standpoint of making a profit, Airbnb is a good thing.”


How Airbnb took over the world

R owan Hughes stayed in Airbnb accommodation on holidays for several years before she decided to make some extra cash from her own home in south-east London. When refurbishing the property, she created a room with an en-suite bathroom and its own front door, listing it on the accommodation-sharing platform at the start of this year.

Hughes, 37, considered getting a lodger, but using Airbnb offered the flexibility to reclaim the room when her own friends and family came to stay. So far, she has mainly attracted business travellers, who prefer her homely atmosphere and £50-a-night charge to nearby chain hotels where soulless rooms cost significantly more.

“I make it clear on the listing that it’s a family home, so guests know what to expect,” she said. “It’s still early days but it has been great. It brings in some extra cash for holidays or things for the children, and it’s a competitive price for my visitors. It works for everyone, and I don’t want to be greedy.”

Hughes is exactly the kind of host the founders of Airbnb had in mind when they launched the business in 2008. Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky dreamed up the idea of a website that would allow people to rent out a spare room for the odd night or two after they charged three guests $80 each to sleep on airbeds in their San Francisco apartment when every hotel room in the city was taken.

Eleven years on, Airbnb’s site lists more than six million rooms, flats and houses in more than 81,000 cities across the globe. On average, two million people rest their heads in an Airbnb property each night – half a billion since 2008.

London, Paris and New York have the biggest number of listings, but Airbnb accommodation is available in Mandalay, Ulaanbaatar and Brazzaville.

Last year, Forbes estimated the business to be worth $31bn (£23bn). In the coming months, Airbnb is expected to become a listed company, with an initial public offering netting enormous wealth for Gebbia, Chesky and co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk.

But Airbnb’s extraordinary success has not been welcomed unreservedly. Some residents in areas with a big Airbnb presence claim the business is hollowing out communities by forcing up rents and limiting availability for people seeking long-term lets, and importing large numbers of tourists who display scant interest in courtesy to their temporary neighbours.

Social media and websites such as airbnbhell.com abound with stories from hosts, guests and neighbours of excessive noise, trashed homes, wild parties, last-minute cancellations and scams. But they are matched by positive experiences from satisfied travellers who have found affordable alternatives to hotel rooms.

Many local authorities are implementing or exploring regulation to mitigate the negative impact of short-term rentals.

In London – where more than 77,000 homes are listed on Airbnb, a fourfold increase since 2015 – mayor Sadiq Khan last month called for a registration scheme for people renting properties on a short-term basis. Since 2015, a legal cap of 90 nights a year for short-term rentals in London has been in place, but it has proved almost impossible to enforce.

Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk and Brian Chesky, the co-founders of Airbnb, are set to become enormously wealthy when the company becomes listed. Photograph: Airbnb

City Hall acknowledged that the 2.2 million guests who stayed in short-term rentals in the year to July 2018 generated £1.3bn for the local economy, but said the time had come for a mandatory registration system for hosts and zero tolerance for those trying to flout the 90-night limit.

James Murray, deputy mayor for housing, told the Observer: “In principle, a good balance can be struck. Londoners can make a bit of extra money by renting out their homes, and visitors can have more options for places to stay. But that does have to be balanced against protecting long-term rented housing in London and the impact on neighbours of people coming and going. In some areas, the balance is not being struck.”

Airbnb – which backed the mayor’s call – takes measures to enforce the 90-night cap with its hosts. Other accommodation platforms are less compliant, the mayor’s office said.

An Airbnb spokesperson said the company wanted to be “a good partner to the places in which our hosts live. We have already collaborated and worked with over 500 governments to help hosts share their homes and follow the rules.”

The spokesperson said “countless studies” had shown that Airbnb had no significant impact on housing, adding: “We always welcome working with local authorities and partners on how we can ensure hosting and home sharing continues to grow responsibly and sustainably, and help spread the benefits of tourism to local families, small businesses and their communities.”.

Last week an adviser to the European Court of Justice said the company – which is registered in Ireland – should be regarded as a digital service provider rather than a real estate business. This could exempt it from onerous regulation. Airbnb has spawned competitors though none has matched its scale. Marriott International recently said it would become the first global hotel chain to launch a home-rental business. Hilton and Hyatt are considering similar moves.

Meanwhile, Airbnb is moving into the hotel business, partnering a New York developer to turn commercial properties in the city into a “new category of urban lodging”. The first venture will be to convert 10 floors of the Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan into “high-end apartment-style suites”.

At the other end of the spectrum, Fairbnb, a co-operative “seeking to create a just alternative to existing home-sharing platforms”, will launch in five European cities next month. The venture is committed to sustainability, transparency and compliance with local and national legislation. Its hosts will be permitted to advertise only their own homes, and the co-op’s 15% commission fee will help local development projects.

Fairbnb is perhaps closer to Gebbia and Chesky’s original vision for community-based tourism than the behemoth that Airbnb has become. Although most Airbnb hosts in the UK – 76% – let out their own homes for extra cash, the platform is increasingly used by business people who own or manage multiple properties.

Housing activists and analysts say that some landlords have shifted from offering long-term tenancies to more profitable short-term lets. In some places, they say, properties are being turned into de facto hotels or hostels, with locks on individual rooms, to maximise income.

In London, according to database Inside Airbnb, 11 hosts have more than 100 properties listed on the site. Almost a quarter of London hosts list five or more properties. Other big cities show similar trends.

Alex, 31, who has two central London properties on Airbnb, hopes to expand. “I see this as the future. It’s not so attractive to let properties now,” he said, citing the government’s increased taxation of buy-to-let property. A lot of landlords have had to sell up, but those who’ve managed to stay afloat have had to get creative. From the standpoint of making a profit, Airbnb is a good thing.”


How Airbnb took over the world

R owan Hughes stayed in Airbnb accommodation on holidays for several years before she decided to make some extra cash from her own home in south-east London. When refurbishing the property, she created a room with an en-suite bathroom and its own front door, listing it on the accommodation-sharing platform at the start of this year.

Hughes, 37, considered getting a lodger, but using Airbnb offered the flexibility to reclaim the room when her own friends and family came to stay. So far, she has mainly attracted business travellers, who prefer her homely atmosphere and £50-a-night charge to nearby chain hotels where soulless rooms cost significantly more.

“I make it clear on the listing that it’s a family home, so guests know what to expect,” she said. “It’s still early days but it has been great. It brings in some extra cash for holidays or things for the children, and it’s a competitive price for my visitors. It works for everyone, and I don’t want to be greedy.”

Hughes is exactly the kind of host the founders of Airbnb had in mind when they launched the business in 2008. Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky dreamed up the idea of a website that would allow people to rent out a spare room for the odd night or two after they charged three guests $80 each to sleep on airbeds in their San Francisco apartment when every hotel room in the city was taken.

Eleven years on, Airbnb’s site lists more than six million rooms, flats and houses in more than 81,000 cities across the globe. On average, two million people rest their heads in an Airbnb property each night – half a billion since 2008.

London, Paris and New York have the biggest number of listings, but Airbnb accommodation is available in Mandalay, Ulaanbaatar and Brazzaville.

Last year, Forbes estimated the business to be worth $31bn (£23bn). In the coming months, Airbnb is expected to become a listed company, with an initial public offering netting enormous wealth for Gebbia, Chesky and co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk.

But Airbnb’s extraordinary success has not been welcomed unreservedly. Some residents in areas with a big Airbnb presence claim the business is hollowing out communities by forcing up rents and limiting availability for people seeking long-term lets, and importing large numbers of tourists who display scant interest in courtesy to their temporary neighbours.

Social media and websites such as airbnbhell.com abound with stories from hosts, guests and neighbours of excessive noise, trashed homes, wild parties, last-minute cancellations and scams. But they are matched by positive experiences from satisfied travellers who have found affordable alternatives to hotel rooms.

Many local authorities are implementing or exploring regulation to mitigate the negative impact of short-term rentals.

In London – where more than 77,000 homes are listed on Airbnb, a fourfold increase since 2015 – mayor Sadiq Khan last month called for a registration scheme for people renting properties on a short-term basis. Since 2015, a legal cap of 90 nights a year for short-term rentals in London has been in place, but it has proved almost impossible to enforce.

Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk and Brian Chesky, the co-founders of Airbnb, are set to become enormously wealthy when the company becomes listed. Photograph: Airbnb

City Hall acknowledged that the 2.2 million guests who stayed in short-term rentals in the year to July 2018 generated £1.3bn for the local economy, but said the time had come for a mandatory registration system for hosts and zero tolerance for those trying to flout the 90-night limit.

James Murray, deputy mayor for housing, told the Observer: “In principle, a good balance can be struck. Londoners can make a bit of extra money by renting out their homes, and visitors can have more options for places to stay. But that does have to be balanced against protecting long-term rented housing in London and the impact on neighbours of people coming and going. In some areas, the balance is not being struck.”

Airbnb – which backed the mayor’s call – takes measures to enforce the 90-night cap with its hosts. Other accommodation platforms are less compliant, the mayor’s office said.

An Airbnb spokesperson said the company wanted to be “a good partner to the places in which our hosts live. We have already collaborated and worked with over 500 governments to help hosts share their homes and follow the rules.”

The spokesperson said “countless studies” had shown that Airbnb had no significant impact on housing, adding: “We always welcome working with local authorities and partners on how we can ensure hosting and home sharing continues to grow responsibly and sustainably, and help spread the benefits of tourism to local families, small businesses and their communities.”.

Last week an adviser to the European Court of Justice said the company – which is registered in Ireland – should be regarded as a digital service provider rather than a real estate business. This could exempt it from onerous regulation. Airbnb has spawned competitors though none has matched its scale. Marriott International recently said it would become the first global hotel chain to launch a home-rental business. Hilton and Hyatt are considering similar moves.

Meanwhile, Airbnb is moving into the hotel business, partnering a New York developer to turn commercial properties in the city into a “new category of urban lodging”. The first venture will be to convert 10 floors of the Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan into “high-end apartment-style suites”.

At the other end of the spectrum, Fairbnb, a co-operative “seeking to create a just alternative to existing home-sharing platforms”, will launch in five European cities next month. The venture is committed to sustainability, transparency and compliance with local and national legislation. Its hosts will be permitted to advertise only their own homes, and the co-op’s 15% commission fee will help local development projects.

Fairbnb is perhaps closer to Gebbia and Chesky’s original vision for community-based tourism than the behemoth that Airbnb has become. Although most Airbnb hosts in the UK – 76% – let out their own homes for extra cash, the platform is increasingly used by business people who own or manage multiple properties.

Housing activists and analysts say that some landlords have shifted from offering long-term tenancies to more profitable short-term lets. In some places, they say, properties are being turned into de facto hotels or hostels, with locks on individual rooms, to maximise income.

In London, according to database Inside Airbnb, 11 hosts have more than 100 properties listed on the site. Almost a quarter of London hosts list five or more properties. Other big cities show similar trends.

Alex, 31, who has two central London properties on Airbnb, hopes to expand. “I see this as the future. It’s not so attractive to let properties now,” he said, citing the government’s increased taxation of buy-to-let property. A lot of landlords have had to sell up, but those who’ve managed to stay afloat have had to get creative. From the standpoint of making a profit, Airbnb is a good thing.”


How Airbnb took over the world

R owan Hughes stayed in Airbnb accommodation on holidays for several years before she decided to make some extra cash from her own home in south-east London. When refurbishing the property, she created a room with an en-suite bathroom and its own front door, listing it on the accommodation-sharing platform at the start of this year.

Hughes, 37, considered getting a lodger, but using Airbnb offered the flexibility to reclaim the room when her own friends and family came to stay. So far, she has mainly attracted business travellers, who prefer her homely atmosphere and £50-a-night charge to nearby chain hotels where soulless rooms cost significantly more.

“I make it clear on the listing that it’s a family home, so guests know what to expect,” she said. “It’s still early days but it has been great. It brings in some extra cash for holidays or things for the children, and it’s a competitive price for my visitors. It works for everyone, and I don’t want to be greedy.”

Hughes is exactly the kind of host the founders of Airbnb had in mind when they launched the business in 2008. Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky dreamed up the idea of a website that would allow people to rent out a spare room for the odd night or two after they charged three guests $80 each to sleep on airbeds in their San Francisco apartment when every hotel room in the city was taken.

Eleven years on, Airbnb’s site lists more than six million rooms, flats and houses in more than 81,000 cities across the globe. On average, two million people rest their heads in an Airbnb property each night – half a billion since 2008.

London, Paris and New York have the biggest number of listings, but Airbnb accommodation is available in Mandalay, Ulaanbaatar and Brazzaville.

Last year, Forbes estimated the business to be worth $31bn (£23bn). In the coming months, Airbnb is expected to become a listed company, with an initial public offering netting enormous wealth for Gebbia, Chesky and co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk.

But Airbnb’s extraordinary success has not been welcomed unreservedly. Some residents in areas with a big Airbnb presence claim the business is hollowing out communities by forcing up rents and limiting availability for people seeking long-term lets, and importing large numbers of tourists who display scant interest in courtesy to their temporary neighbours.

Social media and websites such as airbnbhell.com abound with stories from hosts, guests and neighbours of excessive noise, trashed homes, wild parties, last-minute cancellations and scams. But they are matched by positive experiences from satisfied travellers who have found affordable alternatives to hotel rooms.

Many local authorities are implementing or exploring regulation to mitigate the negative impact of short-term rentals.

In London – where more than 77,000 homes are listed on Airbnb, a fourfold increase since 2015 – mayor Sadiq Khan last month called for a registration scheme for people renting properties on a short-term basis. Since 2015, a legal cap of 90 nights a year for short-term rentals in London has been in place, but it has proved almost impossible to enforce.

Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk and Brian Chesky, the co-founders of Airbnb, are set to become enormously wealthy when the company becomes listed. Photograph: Airbnb

City Hall acknowledged that the 2.2 million guests who stayed in short-term rentals in the year to July 2018 generated £1.3bn for the local economy, but said the time had come for a mandatory registration system for hosts and zero tolerance for those trying to flout the 90-night limit.

James Murray, deputy mayor for housing, told the Observer: “In principle, a good balance can be struck. Londoners can make a bit of extra money by renting out their homes, and visitors can have more options for places to stay. But that does have to be balanced against protecting long-term rented housing in London and the impact on neighbours of people coming and going. In some areas, the balance is not being struck.”

Airbnb – which backed the mayor’s call – takes measures to enforce the 90-night cap with its hosts. Other accommodation platforms are less compliant, the mayor’s office said.

An Airbnb spokesperson said the company wanted to be “a good partner to the places in which our hosts live. We have already collaborated and worked with over 500 governments to help hosts share their homes and follow the rules.”

The spokesperson said “countless studies” had shown that Airbnb had no significant impact on housing, adding: “We always welcome working with local authorities and partners on how we can ensure hosting and home sharing continues to grow responsibly and sustainably, and help spread the benefits of tourism to local families, small businesses and their communities.”.

Last week an adviser to the European Court of Justice said the company – which is registered in Ireland – should be regarded as a digital service provider rather than a real estate business. This could exempt it from onerous regulation. Airbnb has spawned competitors though none has matched its scale. Marriott International recently said it would become the first global hotel chain to launch a home-rental business. Hilton and Hyatt are considering similar moves.

Meanwhile, Airbnb is moving into the hotel business, partnering a New York developer to turn commercial properties in the city into a “new category of urban lodging”. The first venture will be to convert 10 floors of the Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan into “high-end apartment-style suites”.

At the other end of the spectrum, Fairbnb, a co-operative “seeking to create a just alternative to existing home-sharing platforms”, will launch in five European cities next month. The venture is committed to sustainability, transparency and compliance with local and national legislation. Its hosts will be permitted to advertise only their own homes, and the co-op’s 15% commission fee will help local development projects.

Fairbnb is perhaps closer to Gebbia and Chesky’s original vision for community-based tourism than the behemoth that Airbnb has become. Although most Airbnb hosts in the UK – 76% – let out their own homes for extra cash, the platform is increasingly used by business people who own or manage multiple properties.

Housing activists and analysts say that some landlords have shifted from offering long-term tenancies to more profitable short-term lets. In some places, they say, properties are being turned into de facto hotels or hostels, with locks on individual rooms, to maximise income.

In London, according to database Inside Airbnb, 11 hosts have more than 100 properties listed on the site. Almost a quarter of London hosts list five or more properties. Other big cities show similar trends.

Alex, 31, who has two central London properties on Airbnb, hopes to expand. “I see this as the future. It’s not so attractive to let properties now,” he said, citing the government’s increased taxation of buy-to-let property. A lot of landlords have had to sell up, but those who’ve managed to stay afloat have had to get creative. From the standpoint of making a profit, Airbnb is a good thing.”


How Airbnb took over the world

R owan Hughes stayed in Airbnb accommodation on holidays for several years before she decided to make some extra cash from her own home in south-east London. When refurbishing the property, she created a room with an en-suite bathroom and its own front door, listing it on the accommodation-sharing platform at the start of this year.

Hughes, 37, considered getting a lodger, but using Airbnb offered the flexibility to reclaim the room when her own friends and family came to stay. So far, she has mainly attracted business travellers, who prefer her homely atmosphere and £50-a-night charge to nearby chain hotels where soulless rooms cost significantly more.

“I make it clear on the listing that it’s a family home, so guests know what to expect,” she said. “It’s still early days but it has been great. It brings in some extra cash for holidays or things for the children, and it’s a competitive price for my visitors. It works for everyone, and I don’t want to be greedy.”

Hughes is exactly the kind of host the founders of Airbnb had in mind when they launched the business in 2008. Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky dreamed up the idea of a website that would allow people to rent out a spare room for the odd night or two after they charged three guests $80 each to sleep on airbeds in their San Francisco apartment when every hotel room in the city was taken.

Eleven years on, Airbnb’s site lists more than six million rooms, flats and houses in more than 81,000 cities across the globe. On average, two million people rest their heads in an Airbnb property each night – half a billion since 2008.

London, Paris and New York have the biggest number of listings, but Airbnb accommodation is available in Mandalay, Ulaanbaatar and Brazzaville.

Last year, Forbes estimated the business to be worth $31bn (£23bn). In the coming months, Airbnb is expected to become a listed company, with an initial public offering netting enormous wealth for Gebbia, Chesky and co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk.

But Airbnb’s extraordinary success has not been welcomed unreservedly. Some residents in areas with a big Airbnb presence claim the business is hollowing out communities by forcing up rents and limiting availability for people seeking long-term lets, and importing large numbers of tourists who display scant interest in courtesy to their temporary neighbours.

Social media and websites such as airbnbhell.com abound with stories from hosts, guests and neighbours of excessive noise, trashed homes, wild parties, last-minute cancellations and scams. But they are matched by positive experiences from satisfied travellers who have found affordable alternatives to hotel rooms.

Many local authorities are implementing or exploring regulation to mitigate the negative impact of short-term rentals.

In London – where more than 77,000 homes are listed on Airbnb, a fourfold increase since 2015 – mayor Sadiq Khan last month called for a registration scheme for people renting properties on a short-term basis. Since 2015, a legal cap of 90 nights a year for short-term rentals in London has been in place, but it has proved almost impossible to enforce.

Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk and Brian Chesky, the co-founders of Airbnb, are set to become enormously wealthy when the company becomes listed. Photograph: Airbnb

City Hall acknowledged that the 2.2 million guests who stayed in short-term rentals in the year to July 2018 generated £1.3bn for the local economy, but said the time had come for a mandatory registration system for hosts and zero tolerance for those trying to flout the 90-night limit.

James Murray, deputy mayor for housing, told the Observer: “In principle, a good balance can be struck. Londoners can make a bit of extra money by renting out their homes, and visitors can have more options for places to stay. But that does have to be balanced against protecting long-term rented housing in London and the impact on neighbours of people coming and going. In some areas, the balance is not being struck.”

Airbnb – which backed the mayor’s call – takes measures to enforce the 90-night cap with its hosts. Other accommodation platforms are less compliant, the mayor’s office said.

An Airbnb spokesperson said the company wanted to be “a good partner to the places in which our hosts live. We have already collaborated and worked with over 500 governments to help hosts share their homes and follow the rules.”

The spokesperson said “countless studies” had shown that Airbnb had no significant impact on housing, adding: “We always welcome working with local authorities and partners on how we can ensure hosting and home sharing continues to grow responsibly and sustainably, and help spread the benefits of tourism to local families, small businesses and their communities.”.

Last week an adviser to the European Court of Justice said the company – which is registered in Ireland – should be regarded as a digital service provider rather than a real estate business. This could exempt it from onerous regulation. Airbnb has spawned competitors though none has matched its scale. Marriott International recently said it would become the first global hotel chain to launch a home-rental business. Hilton and Hyatt are considering similar moves.

Meanwhile, Airbnb is moving into the hotel business, partnering a New York developer to turn commercial properties in the city into a “new category of urban lodging”. The first venture will be to convert 10 floors of the Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan into “high-end apartment-style suites”.

At the other end of the spectrum, Fairbnb, a co-operative “seeking to create a just alternative to existing home-sharing platforms”, will launch in five European cities next month. The venture is committed to sustainability, transparency and compliance with local and national legislation. Its hosts will be permitted to advertise only their own homes, and the co-op’s 15% commission fee will help local development projects.

Fairbnb is perhaps closer to Gebbia and Chesky’s original vision for community-based tourism than the behemoth that Airbnb has become. Although most Airbnb hosts in the UK – 76% – let out their own homes for extra cash, the platform is increasingly used by business people who own or manage multiple properties.

Housing activists and analysts say that some landlords have shifted from offering long-term tenancies to more profitable short-term lets. In some places, they say, properties are being turned into de facto hotels or hostels, with locks on individual rooms, to maximise income.

In London, according to database Inside Airbnb, 11 hosts have more than 100 properties listed on the site. Almost a quarter of London hosts list five or more properties. Other big cities show similar trends.

Alex, 31, who has two central London properties on Airbnb, hopes to expand. “I see this as the future. It’s not so attractive to let properties now,” he said, citing the government’s increased taxation of buy-to-let property. A lot of landlords have had to sell up, but those who’ve managed to stay afloat have had to get creative. From the standpoint of making a profit, Airbnb is a good thing.”


How Airbnb took over the world

R owan Hughes stayed in Airbnb accommodation on holidays for several years before she decided to make some extra cash from her own home in south-east London. When refurbishing the property, she created a room with an en-suite bathroom and its own front door, listing it on the accommodation-sharing platform at the start of this year.

Hughes, 37, considered getting a lodger, but using Airbnb offered the flexibility to reclaim the room when her own friends and family came to stay. So far, she has mainly attracted business travellers, who prefer her homely atmosphere and £50-a-night charge to nearby chain hotels where soulless rooms cost significantly more.

“I make it clear on the listing that it’s a family home, so guests know what to expect,” she said. “It’s still early days but it has been great. It brings in some extra cash for holidays or things for the children, and it’s a competitive price for my visitors. It works for everyone, and I don’t want to be greedy.”

Hughes is exactly the kind of host the founders of Airbnb had in mind when they launched the business in 2008. Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky dreamed up the idea of a website that would allow people to rent out a spare room for the odd night or two after they charged three guests $80 each to sleep on airbeds in their San Francisco apartment when every hotel room in the city was taken.

Eleven years on, Airbnb’s site lists more than six million rooms, flats and houses in more than 81,000 cities across the globe. On average, two million people rest their heads in an Airbnb property each night – half a billion since 2008.

London, Paris and New York have the biggest number of listings, but Airbnb accommodation is available in Mandalay, Ulaanbaatar and Brazzaville.

Last year, Forbes estimated the business to be worth $31bn (£23bn). In the coming months, Airbnb is expected to become a listed company, with an initial public offering netting enormous wealth for Gebbia, Chesky and co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk.

But Airbnb’s extraordinary success has not been welcomed unreservedly. Some residents in areas with a big Airbnb presence claim the business is hollowing out communities by forcing up rents and limiting availability for people seeking long-term lets, and importing large numbers of tourists who display scant interest in courtesy to their temporary neighbours.

Social media and websites such as airbnbhell.com abound with stories from hosts, guests and neighbours of excessive noise, trashed homes, wild parties, last-minute cancellations and scams. But they are matched by positive experiences from satisfied travellers who have found affordable alternatives to hotel rooms.

Many local authorities are implementing or exploring regulation to mitigate the negative impact of short-term rentals.

In London – where more than 77,000 homes are listed on Airbnb, a fourfold increase since 2015 – mayor Sadiq Khan last month called for a registration scheme for people renting properties on a short-term basis. Since 2015, a legal cap of 90 nights a year for short-term rentals in London has been in place, but it has proved almost impossible to enforce.

Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk and Brian Chesky, the co-founders of Airbnb, are set to become enormously wealthy when the company becomes listed. Photograph: Airbnb

City Hall acknowledged that the 2.2 million guests who stayed in short-term rentals in the year to July 2018 generated £1.3bn for the local economy, but said the time had come for a mandatory registration system for hosts and zero tolerance for those trying to flout the 90-night limit.

James Murray, deputy mayor for housing, told the Observer: “In principle, a good balance can be struck. Londoners can make a bit of extra money by renting out their homes, and visitors can have more options for places to stay. But that does have to be balanced against protecting long-term rented housing in London and the impact on neighbours of people coming and going. In some areas, the balance is not being struck.”

Airbnb – which backed the mayor’s call – takes measures to enforce the 90-night cap with its hosts. Other accommodation platforms are less compliant, the mayor’s office said.

An Airbnb spokesperson said the company wanted to be “a good partner to the places in which our hosts live. We have already collaborated and worked with over 500 governments to help hosts share their homes and follow the rules.”

The spokesperson said “countless studies” had shown that Airbnb had no significant impact on housing, adding: “We always welcome working with local authorities and partners on how we can ensure hosting and home sharing continues to grow responsibly and sustainably, and help spread the benefits of tourism to local families, small businesses and their communities.”.

Last week an adviser to the European Court of Justice said the company – which is registered in Ireland – should be regarded as a digital service provider rather than a real estate business. This could exempt it from onerous regulation. Airbnb has spawned competitors though none has matched its scale. Marriott International recently said it would become the first global hotel chain to launch a home-rental business. Hilton and Hyatt are considering similar moves.

Meanwhile, Airbnb is moving into the hotel business, partnering a New York developer to turn commercial properties in the city into a “new category of urban lodging”. The first venture will be to convert 10 floors of the Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan into “high-end apartment-style suites”.

At the other end of the spectrum, Fairbnb, a co-operative “seeking to create a just alternative to existing home-sharing platforms”, will launch in five European cities next month. The venture is committed to sustainability, transparency and compliance with local and national legislation. Its hosts will be permitted to advertise only their own homes, and the co-op’s 15% commission fee will help local development projects.

Fairbnb is perhaps closer to Gebbia and Chesky’s original vision for community-based tourism than the behemoth that Airbnb has become. Although most Airbnb hosts in the UK – 76% – let out their own homes for extra cash, the platform is increasingly used by business people who own or manage multiple properties.

Housing activists and analysts say that some landlords have shifted from offering long-term tenancies to more profitable short-term lets. In some places, they say, properties are being turned into de facto hotels or hostels, with locks on individual rooms, to maximise income.

In London, according to database Inside Airbnb, 11 hosts have more than 100 properties listed on the site. Almost a quarter of London hosts list five or more properties. Other big cities show similar trends.

Alex, 31, who has two central London properties on Airbnb, hopes to expand. “I see this as the future. It’s not so attractive to let properties now,” he said, citing the government’s increased taxation of buy-to-let property. A lot of landlords have had to sell up, but those who’ve managed to stay afloat have had to get creative. From the standpoint of making a profit, Airbnb is a good thing.”


How Airbnb took over the world

R owan Hughes stayed in Airbnb accommodation on holidays for several years before she decided to make some extra cash from her own home in south-east London. When refurbishing the property, she created a room with an en-suite bathroom and its own front door, listing it on the accommodation-sharing platform at the start of this year.

Hughes, 37, considered getting a lodger, but using Airbnb offered the flexibility to reclaim the room when her own friends and family came to stay. So far, she has mainly attracted business travellers, who prefer her homely atmosphere and £50-a-night charge to nearby chain hotels where soulless rooms cost significantly more.

“I make it clear on the listing that it’s a family home, so guests know what to expect,” she said. “It’s still early days but it has been great. It brings in some extra cash for holidays or things for the children, and it’s a competitive price for my visitors. It works for everyone, and I don’t want to be greedy.”

Hughes is exactly the kind of host the founders of Airbnb had in mind when they launched the business in 2008. Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky dreamed up the idea of a website that would allow people to rent out a spare room for the odd night or two after they charged three guests $80 each to sleep on airbeds in their San Francisco apartment when every hotel room in the city was taken.

Eleven years on, Airbnb’s site lists more than six million rooms, flats and houses in more than 81,000 cities across the globe. On average, two million people rest their heads in an Airbnb property each night – half a billion since 2008.

London, Paris and New York have the biggest number of listings, but Airbnb accommodation is available in Mandalay, Ulaanbaatar and Brazzaville.

Last year, Forbes estimated the business to be worth $31bn (£23bn). In the coming months, Airbnb is expected to become a listed company, with an initial public offering netting enormous wealth for Gebbia, Chesky and co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk.

But Airbnb’s extraordinary success has not been welcomed unreservedly. Some residents in areas with a big Airbnb presence claim the business is hollowing out communities by forcing up rents and limiting availability for people seeking long-term lets, and importing large numbers of tourists who display scant interest in courtesy to their temporary neighbours.

Social media and websites such as airbnbhell.com abound with stories from hosts, guests and neighbours of excessive noise, trashed homes, wild parties, last-minute cancellations and scams. But they are matched by positive experiences from satisfied travellers who have found affordable alternatives to hotel rooms.

Many local authorities are implementing or exploring regulation to mitigate the negative impact of short-term rentals.

In London – where more than 77,000 homes are listed on Airbnb, a fourfold increase since 2015 – mayor Sadiq Khan last month called for a registration scheme for people renting properties on a short-term basis. Since 2015, a legal cap of 90 nights a year for short-term rentals in London has been in place, but it has proved almost impossible to enforce.

Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk and Brian Chesky, the co-founders of Airbnb, are set to become enormously wealthy when the company becomes listed. Photograph: Airbnb

City Hall acknowledged that the 2.2 million guests who stayed in short-term rentals in the year to July 2018 generated £1.3bn for the local economy, but said the time had come for a mandatory registration system for hosts and zero tolerance for those trying to flout the 90-night limit.

James Murray, deputy mayor for housing, told the Observer: “In principle, a good balance can be struck. Londoners can make a bit of extra money by renting out their homes, and visitors can have more options for places to stay. But that does have to be balanced against protecting long-term rented housing in London and the impact on neighbours of people coming and going. In some areas, the balance is not being struck.”

Airbnb – which backed the mayor’s call – takes measures to enforce the 90-night cap with its hosts. Other accommodation platforms are less compliant, the mayor’s office said.

An Airbnb spokesperson said the company wanted to be “a good partner to the places in which our hosts live. We have already collaborated and worked with over 500 governments to help hosts share their homes and follow the rules.”

The spokesperson said “countless studies” had shown that Airbnb had no significant impact on housing, adding: “We always welcome working with local authorities and partners on how we can ensure hosting and home sharing continues to grow responsibly and sustainably, and help spread the benefits of tourism to local families, small businesses and their communities.”.

Last week an adviser to the European Court of Justice said the company – which is registered in Ireland – should be regarded as a digital service provider rather than a real estate business. This could exempt it from onerous regulation. Airbnb has spawned competitors though none has matched its scale. Marriott International recently said it would become the first global hotel chain to launch a home-rental business. Hilton and Hyatt are considering similar moves.

Meanwhile, Airbnb is moving into the hotel business, partnering a New York developer to turn commercial properties in the city into a “new category of urban lodging”. The first venture will be to convert 10 floors of the Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan into “high-end apartment-style suites”.

At the other end of the spectrum, Fairbnb, a co-operative “seeking to create a just alternative to existing home-sharing platforms”, will launch in five European cities next month. The venture is committed to sustainability, transparency and compliance with local and national legislation. Its hosts will be permitted to advertise only their own homes, and the co-op’s 15% commission fee will help local development projects.

Fairbnb is perhaps closer to Gebbia and Chesky’s original vision for community-based tourism than the behemoth that Airbnb has become. Although most Airbnb hosts in the UK – 76% – let out their own homes for extra cash, the platform is increasingly used by business people who own or manage multiple properties.

Housing activists and analysts say that some landlords have shifted from offering long-term tenancies to more profitable short-term lets. In some places, they say, properties are being turned into de facto hotels or hostels, with locks on individual rooms, to maximise income.

In London, according to database Inside Airbnb, 11 hosts have more than 100 properties listed on the site. Almost a quarter of London hosts list five or more properties. Other big cities show similar trends.

Alex, 31, who has two central London properties on Airbnb, hopes to expand. “I see this as the future. It’s not so attractive to let properties now,” he said, citing the government’s increased taxation of buy-to-let property. A lot of landlords have had to sell up, but those who’ve managed to stay afloat have had to get creative. From the standpoint of making a profit, Airbnb is a good thing.”


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