Sunday, 18 August 2013

rink-a-dink or bed-and-board

Though far from forthcoming and most deflectionary with their motives, administrators for the city of Berlin (not used as a metonym for the government of Germany entire) are making arguments against service-providers that help connect tourists with residents who have a spare room, sofa or air-mattress to offer, saying that the entrepreneurs are contributing to the shortage of affordable housing through speculative by encouraging speculation and holding onto surplus space, awaiting a turn in the properties market.
That hardly seems like a valid accusation to those who have managed to spin a meagre sum of gold by offering the extra space to visitors to the city at a discount and with the bonus of very personable accommodations and native knowledge. For the price, one does not usually find this at traditional hotels and surely the aggressions against the industry and short-term renters is at the behest of the hotel lobby, who stand to lose profits to more flexible and hospitable individuals and probably also sore that private subleters don't have restrict regulations and a tax regime to adhere to. I've often thought about making my work-week flat available for a song (or my car during the week) on the weekends and know I have the means and infrastructure to do so. People caught renting out their homes or parts of it to vacationers could face fines, but that would do nothing to improve the housing situation, since few to none of the participants are hording space, only offering an alternative to regular billeting.
It is happening in other tourist-destinations as well and the ire of municipalities is running counter to consumer-demand. Hopefully in the end, the service-providers will prevail, but this battle-royale seems like the whinging in the States that introduced internet sales-tax or the bemoaning of the postal service and telephone companies over lost revenue due to more expedient and cheaper alternatives. Though we are happy campers ourselves, to pass such a regulation, I think, would be a dangerous assault against sharing, moonlighting and freelancing in general. What is your opinion? Is this like Ma Bell going after Skype or a legitimate way to ease the housing-crunch in big cities?