Although it has successfully helped millions of travelers to find overnight accommodations in an apartment or home, Airbnb is still mired in controversy and fending off attacks.
It has been challenged by (and remains embattled against) numerous city governments which claim that Airbnb has worsened the housing situation in their jurisdictions and reduced the available accommodations for permanent residents (Airbnb denies all criticism against it, and says it adheres to all regulations).
But it was nevertheless bound to happen that Airbnb would eventually be challenged by a website called “Fairbnb” (fairbnb.coop), which precedes the name with a capital F and subtitles itself “the ethical alternative to Airbnb.”
Fairbnb claims it has entered into written agreements with cities that it would never encourage illegal hotels.
It will never permit renters to occupy an entire apartment or home from which the owner has fled.
It will never deal with a home or apartment owner who is renting multiple accommodations.
It will restrict its activities to the rental of a single room in a larger apartment or home in which the owner remains in residence.
Equally important, it will make the city a partner in its success. Since both Airbnb and Fairbnb earn a 15% commission on rentals, Fairbnb will hand over half that commission—some 7.5%—to the neighborhood in which the rental exists.
And that neighborhood will be required to use such income for non-commercial purposes: to build a playground, for instance, or a meeting hall or library, or “social housing” for low-income people. The community will benefit from Fairbnb’s success.
Fairbnb started slowly, supplying rentals only in European cities, and initially in five major touristic magnets: Amsterdam, Venice, Bologna, Barcelona, and Valencia (one could hardly list cities more in need of such rentals). By this time, it probably has added other cities to its roster.
Now, I can’t guarantee that Fairbnb will succeed in its high-minded goals, whether it can remain in business, and prosper against what might be a massive competitive assault against it.
We shall watch and see. But if you’re planning a stay in Europe or elsewhere, you might give it a try: Fairbnb.coop, the “ethical alternative” to Airbnb.