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TUESDAY, JUNE 26, 2018

The Current Situation in Columbus, Ohio..

You purchased a nice home in a quiet residential neighborhood. You’ve lived there for years, maybe decades. You like your neighbors. You like your neighborhood. You know your neighbors by name, and you even know your neighbors’ dogs’ names. Then..

Having a motel next door - Click to enlarge
Boom. You now live next door to a full-time, non-owner occupied Airbnb motel.

Wait. What? How can a motel be brought into a residential neighborhood? Your neighborhood is zoned residential. You can’t have bakeries, coffee shops, or hair salons next door to you, but now you can have a full-time motel? This can't be right. But people who are out to make a quick buck think it is a great idea.

If you have ever stayed in a motel, you already know what it is like to live by an Airbnb motel. Car doors slam. Car door remotes beep. Late night arrivals. Early morning departures. Yes, just like a motel. But now, it is next door to you. Next door to your home.

It is also far more than just the noise. It is that there are strangers in the neighborhood. When a really bad thing happens, one of the first things that police do is to investigate what workers were recently brought into a neighborhood for roofing, roadwork, etc. These workers are not always well vetted and some are bad people who look for prey wherever they go. How many motel guests, who can now watch your family in your own backyard, have evil intent? No one knows. These people, however, can quickly find out who you are, while you have no idea who they are. Click Permanent Airbnb-like Motels for a potential tool to monitor these motel guests.

More Regulations Passed

The residents in many cities, including in Airbnb’s home city of San Francisco, are fighting back with tough regulations on this latest get-rich-quick scheme.

STR Regulations in Other Cities - Click to view table
As is clear in the table to the right, Columbus, OH is already way behind the times in fighting against short-term rentals. Even Cleveland dealt with this issue prior to the GOP convention almost two years ago by disallowing non-permanent residents from renting their properties. Click on the table to go to a more complete list of cities with regulations. [Just in - Boston passed new regulations on June 13, 2018 to greatly restrict short-term rentals...]

The big question is "Why would Columbus City Council consider starting with a policy that is far more lenient than what other cities have?" These are high-tech cities that are more experienced in dealing with Airbnb's business practices. Why isn't Columbus learning from them? Does Columbus City Council care more about visitors to the city or its residents (and voters)?

Recent News Articles

Just as other city governments are more up-to-speed on short-term rental issues, their cities' news coverage is as well. Click on this link (or in the above dropdown menu) to view a number of recent, insightful articles (and bnbBlight's comments about the articles). Many of these articles, and more, will be re-Tweeted in the Twitter feed. This Twitter feed is also included on the right-side navigational bar above.

Columbus Association of Realtors

You would think that the friendly leaders of the Columbus Association of Realtors would be strongly against this invasion into residential neighborhoods. But no. They are “for” it. Do they think it will cause an upheaval in neighborhoods which gives them more business? Maybe they will list your home for sale for a price that is too low so that they or their friends can swoop in and buy it immediately for use as a short-term rental?

Street Parking - Click to enlarge

Think of the math. When a home becomes a motel, it can negatively affect at least eight other homes - the three in front, the three in back, and the two homes to each side. It is a domino effect that benefits the realtors because some of these owners will flee to the suburbs that do not permit motels in residential areas. These realtors might get more business when these home owners flee. It is odd when homes are practically selling themselves at above list prices that the leadership of the Columbus Realtors would take a position that is directly counter to their customers' best interests. No young family would want to live next door to an Airbnb-like motel.

At a minimum, realtors should be forced to disclose the Airbnb-like motels in the surrounding area. They should also be forced to disclose whether the house that is being sold was an Airbnb-like motel.

Click to read Columbus Realtor President-Elect John Myers' statement at the Columbus City Council Hearing on June 14.

For those realtors who are pro-neighborhood and who are against non-owner occupied full-time Airbnb motels, will offer free publicity. Enter a Feedback to request to be included on this list.

As a side note, it is always been confusing how the realtor business has remained as strong as it is when no one uses a travel agent to plan for a trip and no one buys stocks via a broker anymore. Car purchasing is even going online. It is surprising that Amazon or an Amazon-like service has not completely disrupted this business and driven the percentages through the floor. If you think your neighborhood's well-being is at odds with the realtors in your area, there is always 4SaleByOwner,, and Zillow.

And What Happens When...

STRs during the next recession? - Click to enlarge
Airbnb does not have the risks associated with a normal motel. They are not paying for houses. They can bring on new inventory without spending much more than a dime. They also do not care when the number of motels in an area doubles or triples or quadruples.

The economy is on fire and people are traveling en masse. This will not continue and this latest get-rich-quick scheme will not either. The room rates that these Airbnb motel owners charge per night will start coming down. Some will hold off on dropping the price until they realize that some money, any money is better than no money, but the people who did spend $149 per night are often very different than those who will only spend $49 per night. How many of these new "motel" owners worked in the motel-hotel industry during the last recession? Marriott's stock price is $139 now - during the depth of the recession it was $13.

And when the Airbnb motel owners can no longer pay their mortgage, what happens to your neighborhood? You get bnbBlight..

What's Next?

If you think your Columbus neighborhood is immune to this problem, then you are wrong. The house next door to you could become an Airbnb-motel. Enter a Feedback to get on the mailing list.

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