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Guest Writer
May 10, 2014

The Government Battles with the Growing Sharing Economy

The Sharing Economy is a misunderstood new wave of business, but it’s causing enough of a stir in a handful of industries that it has caught the attention of consumers and businesses alike. The Internet infused applications instigate exchange of goods and services among consumers – a far cry from the traditional business to consumer model of the most powerful and equally profitable industries. These apps have grown in popularity, and in certain instances with the type of zeal that has the potential to cause mass hysteria from consumers utilizing these new community-based businesses.

By Diana Zelikman from Fueled (New York’s leading mobile app development and once in a while they write blog entries for betahaus.)

As of now, the Sharing Economy ideal poses a number of legal questions surrounding government regulation that can’t be easily answered. We, at Fueled, thought we’d check out one business whose implicated itself below.

Company: Airbnb

Coming on the market, fast and loud, with a peer to peer exchange of a constantly sought after asset, Airbnb is an online community network that quickly connects individuals with rental properties to those who are seeking a place to stay on a short-term, temporary basis. Whether customers are looking for a quiet getaway in the mountains of Colorado or need a cozy penthouse with a view deep into the ever busy hub of Manhattan, this mobile app based company provides a means to an end, in a notably inexpensive way. Those who have property to rent on a short-term basis are able to do so with ease by posting the property online, giving way to a money making connection that would otherwise have been unavailable.

The Issue: Short-term Rentals and the Law

Although this may seem like a beautifully simple way to connect needy consumers without the overreaching arm of big business types, cities across the nation are concerned with the regulatory side of this apartment-to-bed-and-breakfast concept. The biggest issue? Regulations that relate directly to the business of short-term rentals are being called into play, specifically in the state of New York. Recently a statewide subpoena was issued to cease business activities for thousands of rental properties within the state, noting that the use of Airbnb to rent out a property violates these broad regulations.

The Basis for Complaint

The “Illegal Hotel Law,” an antiquated piece of legislation, was updated in 2010 to vaguely outlaw the “business” of renting an apartment for fewer than 30 days if the apartment owner is not present. This, in turn, has created a frustrating situation for the state while it attempts to collect potential tax revenue as well as enforce safety and insurance regulations that are applicable normally to solely traditional hotels.

The Complaining Parties

Both the State of New York, in this case, as well as the businesses that stand to lose a hefty portion of an otherwise solid market share - the booming (and outlandishly expensive) New York hotel industry - and are trying to save the changing dynamic of the hotel industry. Their reasoning is if large hotel chains are susceptible to government imposition through regulation, the same should be expected of Airbnb users since they provide similar services.

What’s Next?

Without viable regulations that can be applied directly to practicing sharing economy businesses such as Airbnb, it is nearly impossible to impose the type of control the state of New York is seeking. The concept that competition within an industry is only possible between big players is beginning to waver and large corporations are scrambling to create roadblocks wherever they can. Many similar issues were present when e-commerce sites like eBay and Amazon launched, so it’s clear that government regulations and the laws are out of date to say the least. There is no clear answer, however, to the New York Airbnb issue yet. But with the popularity of the Sharing Economy coming in strong, something will need to be done in an effort to remedy the problems facing renters – both those providing the property and those utilizing them – and the breakdown of big business as the only option within the hotel industry.

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Coworking Spaces in Europe

Republikken // Copenhagen, Denmark // Vesterbrogade 26, 1620 København V, Denmark

Le Laptop // Paris, France // 6 Rue Arthur Rozier, 75019 Paris, France

Le Laptop - Coworking Paris

utopic_US // Madrid, Spain // Calle de la Colegiata, 9, 28012 Madrid, Spain

utopic_US - Coworking Madrid

Nest 71 // Saravejo, Bosnia & Herzegovina // Milana Preloga 12, Sarajevo 71000, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Nest 71 - Coworking Bosnia & Herzegovina

  

Toolbox // Milan, Italy // Via Agostino da Montefeltro, 2, 10134 Torino, Italy

Edspace // London, England // Block D, Hackney Community College, Falkirk St, London, UK

Bios // Athens, Greece // Pireos 84, Athina 104 35, Greece

 

CoWorx // Kristiansand, Norway // Markens Gate 8, 4611 Kristiansand, Norway

CRU – Loja / Cowork // Porto, Portugal // Rua do Rosário 211, 4050-524 Porto, Portugal

SPARK // Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina // Bleiburških žrtava, Mostar 88000, Bosnia & Herzegovina

StartUp Armenia Foundation // Yerevan, Armenia // 0019, 1 Marshal Baghramyan Ave, Yerevan 0019, Armenia

Tøyen Startup Village // Oslo, Norway // Hagegata 23, 0653 Oslo, Norway

Tøyen Startup Village - Coworking Oslo

Smart Coworking // Prague, Czech Republic // Václavské nám. 806/62, 110 00 Nové Město, Czechia

Smart Coworking - Coworking Prague

Lighthouse // Tel Aviv, Israel // HaHaroshet 14-16 Ra'anana, Tel Aviv, Isreal

Lighthouse - Coworking Tel Aviv

Coworking Spaces in North America

Fueled // New York City, USA // 11, 568 Broadway, FL 11, New York, NY 10012, United States **Maximum 3 Days

  

Capital Factory // Austin, USA // 701 Brazos St, Austin, TX 78701, United States

Público // Mexico City, Mexico // Puebla 403, Roma Nte., 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Coworking Spaces in South America

Area Tres // Buenos Aires, Argentina // El Salvador: El Salvador 5218, C1414BPV CABA, Buenos Aires, Argentina // Soho: Malabia 1720, C1414DMJ CABA, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Area Tres - Coworking Buenos Aires

 

HubBOG // Bogota, Colombia // Cl. 98 #18-71, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia

HubBOG - Coworking Bogota

Coworking Spaces in Asia

CIT // Taipei, Taiwan // 10452, Taiwan, Taipei City, Zhongshan District, 玉門街1號

CIT - Coworking Taipe

 

Of10 // Mumbai, India // Prudential, Ground Floor, Hiranandani Gardens, Powai, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400076, India

 

Kibar // Jakarta, Indonesia // Jl. Prof. Moh. Yamin No.1, RT.7/RW.5, Menteng, Kota Jakarta Pusat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10310, Indonesia

Midori.so // Tokyo, Japan // Midori.so Nakameguro: 3 Chome-3-11 Aobadai, Meguro-ku, Tōkyō-to 153-0042, Japan // Midori.so Nagatacho: 2 Chome-5 Hirakawachō, Chiyoda-ku, Tōkyō-to 102-0093 // Midori.so2: 3 Chome-13 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 107-0062, Japan

Midori.so - Coworking Tokyo

Launchgarage Innovation Hub // Manila, Philippines // Level 2, Industria Mall, Circulo Verde, Calle Industria, Bagumbayan, Quezon City, 1110 Metro Manila, Philippines

Coworking Spaces in Australia

Independent Studios // Melbourne, Australia // 39/40 Porter St, Prahran VIC 3181, Australia

Coworking Spaces in Africa

Urban Station EGYPT // Cairo, Egypt // 2 Wadi El Nil Mohandeseen, Cairo, Egypt

Urban Station EGYPT - Coworking Cairo

Nairobi Garage // Nairobi, Kenya // Nairobi Garage, The Mirage, Chiromo Rd, Nairobi, Kenya

Nairobi Garage - Coworking Nairobi

 

BONUS: Cowork & Relax at the Coliving Space, Coconat // Brandenburg, Germany // Klein Glien 25 14806 Bad Belzig, Germany // Get €10 off your stay

 

Toni: Currently, we’ve somehow ended up in this niche of building a lot of internal tools for startups and teams. But this is not the only thing we want to do. What I like about it is that we’re starting projects from scratch and we have full control over them. 

Martin: The first project we worked on was a tool for a large scale real estate development company. What they needed was a tool for their Sales people - to be able to mark their different spots and locations at different stages of the sales funnel. So we created a tool that helps them in this process.

Toni: And this one actually served as a starting point for the tool we’ve developed for  betahaus, which aims to allow the Sales and Management team to see which team rooms are occupied right now, which ones are free or will be occupied in a few weeks or months, so no double bookings appear. 

Alex: These two projects were more focused on real estate, let’s say, but we’ve also done more design-heavy projects like the one we did for Artique which is an online artists agency. For them, we built a whole website and an online system to present their artists starting only from their logo. It had to be very flexible, because the artists needed to be able to edit their own profiles, putting their resume, changing colours.



Toni: Honestly, we have skillsets that you don’t usually find in developers. Because we've had lives that were not just about computer science. I think to some extent this is what makes us different. 

Martin: I believe one of the reasons why people pick us over other studios is because it can be very hard working with developers. If you’re not understanding their work, if the communication is not flowing, you, as a client can feel lost. We're easy to communicate with and we’re always open to feedback and we're open to discuss anything. In the end, after all iterations, if you say we need to start the website from scratch and that you don’t like the idea, we won’t take it personally. 

Alex: Also, I think, since we all work as coding teachers, we are officially qualified to explain what coding is to people who don't code, which is actually really rare because a lot of developers, as Martin says, don't want to, or literally just don't know how to articulate what they're doing. Whereas we are trained in articulating what it is that we're doing, why it's meaningful and why it takes a certain amount of time.

Photo by Lea GK


Alex: Zimt & Mehl - the Turkish bakery around the corner. It’s just soo good.

Martin: Oh, there is this Italian restaurant called Ristorante del Arte

Tony: Oh, my God, this place is so funny. It looks like a pretty average Italian restaurant, but the whole interior design inside is just decorated in such a weird way. The entire place is covered in frescoes. They have crystal chandeliers and Easter bunnies. Some Greek columns. It has a different name on the menu, on the side and on the Internet. And it was an ex-shoe-store.

Want to get in touch with Obst Digital? Come around betahaus | Neukölln and meet them here or send them an email to contact@obst.digital !

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