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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013

Gov't rules threaten popular travel site

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By Clark Howard

ClarkHoward.com


The fastest growing travel business in the world has run afoul of New York's attorney general.

Airbnb continues skyrocketing in popularity. If you don't know this website, it allows you to book a stay in a private home, apartment, or condo. The public trusts it because you pay Airbnb as an intermediary, and only after your stay is successfully completed do they release the money to your temporary landlord. It's a great alternative to booking a traditional hotel room.

Yet the site is very controversial in New York and other big cities like New Orleans and San Francisco. Because in many cases, you're taking properties in residential buildings and essentially filling them with a rotating cast of transients.

Now the attorney general of New York is going after all 15,000 independent owners who have rooms for rent on Airbnb. The website has vowed to do all it can to defend people and isn't keen on handing over their info.

We'll have to wait and see how this all plays out. Anytime you're talking about what new technology makes possible like with Airbnb, you have a case where the marketplace has adjusted but the laws have not. It's sad that government rules can threaten a popular travel site.

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