Vol. XXXIX No. 1

Up in the Air: Harmonizing the Sharing Economy Through Airbnb Regulations

Abstract: The practice of opening up one’s home to accommodate strangers is not new, but it has been revitalized and expanded through the sharing economy and—in particular—through the technology-based platform Airbnb. Despite marketing itself as a tool to connect people across the world, Airbnb has distanced itself from responsibility to its users and the communities in which it operates. As a leader in the sharing economy, Airbnb should be liable for limited actions of hosts consistent with the externalities generated by transient home sharing. A number of European cities serve as a model for how U.S. jurisdictions can respond effectively to the growing demand for short-term housing through Airbnb while also taking into account the externalities that the platform imposes on the permanent housing market. Moreover, the pervasiveness of Airbnb, and the sharing economy as a whole, exposes deficiencies in the federal laws that govern online behavior, revealing the necessity for such laws to be revisited.

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