Outside of Airbnb, people are posting listings and seeking short-term rentals in Facebook groups. Ads on Craigslist for rentals have weekly or nightly prices listed—WIRED found one listing with a weekly and nightly price on Craigslist that also appears on Airbnb, but can only be booked for 30 days or longer on Airbnb. These off-platform rentals pose risks to both guests and hosts, who could get scammed without the protections of bigger companies like Airbnb.
Craigslist did not respond to a request for comment. Meta, Facebook’s parent company, did not comment on specific listings flagged by WIRED, but the company’s policies require buyers and sellers in Facebook Marketplace to comply with local laws, and the company prohibits people from promoting illegal activity in Facebook pages and groups.
Then there’s Houfy, another website listing short-term rentals. WIRED found that many of the listings come from guests who joined the site in September, the same month New York’s new registration rules took effect. The intention is for guests to book directly with hosts—think Airbnb without the fees. The site compares prices for the same property on Airbnb and Houfy and claims to show how much people can save by avoiding Airbnb’s fees.
Houfy has received a notice from New York City about the new rule and is “reviewing how to comply with their rules,” Thijs Aaftink, CEO of Houfy, tells WIRED. Aaftink says Houfy, unlike Airbnb and other rental sites, does not take commissions on transactions between hosts and guests, and argues the company “is therefore not part of the transaction.” He says hosts are responsible for complying with local laws when listing properties.
After the rule change, Airbnb is shifting attention away from New York, which was once its biggest market. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky has recently said the company is exploring longer rentals, as well as car rentals and dining pop-ups. And it has got its eyes on Paris, its largest market and home to the 2024 Summer Olympics.
“I was always hopeful that New York City would lead the way—that we would find a solution in New York, and people would say, ‘If they can make it in New York, they can make it anywhere,’” Chesky said during an event in September hosted by Skift, a travel industry news site. “I think, unfortunately, New York is no longer leading the way—it’s probably a cautionary tale.”