Economy

Web Lets Homeowners Become Hoteliers, Dodge Foreclosure

Strapped homeowners having difficulties making their mortgage payments have long rented out rooms or spaces in their homes to make ends meet.

But the Internet has made that process much easier. Bloomberg News reports on some 20-somethings who started a web site called Airbnb.com which makes it relatively easy to rent out a room etc. and for a night. in other words, every body can get into the hotel business. As one might expect, real hotels aren't amused.

Ari Levy and Dan Levy who wrote the story for Bloomberg (are they related?) found some examples of people who say they would have been foreclosed on if not for the service.

An excerpt:

For Airbnb — along with Craigslist and rival rental sites like HomeAway.com Inc. — the threat of foreclosures is bringing a surge of listings. Local entrepreneurs Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia didn’t have that in mind when they conceived of Airbnb. They just wanted to take the hassle out of renting out a house, a spare room, or even just a couch.

With U.S. unemployment near a 26-year high and foreclosures in their fifth year of increases, there’s no shortage of homeowners seeking relief. Using Airbnb presents risks, though. Renting rooms forces homeowners to share space with strangers, and amid a backlash from the lodging industry, there could be legal challenges.

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