Fairbnb seeks €30,000 funding for co-operative model

Italy: Ethical home-sharing platform Fairbnb is seeking to raise funds totalling €30,000 on Indiegogo to create a community-orientated alternative to other larger platforms.

The move is in response to a number of studies on short-term rentals in cities around the world that point towards rising rent and property prices, as well as a reduction in the amount of available affordable housing. One such study was conducted by the Corporate European Observatory, a research and advocacy group, that focused on revealing corporate privilege in cities and suggested that the growing prevalence of rentals was a factor behind it.

Fairbnb’s plan is to create a co-operative model which would collaborate with local people and cities to establish a fair marketplace for hosts to list their properties and not those who run multiple properties like illegal hotels. A new platform would be put in place that would ensure each home is verified and each host is registered and licensed in accordance with local regulations.

Furthermore, the co-op would agree to share its data with cities in an almost unprecedented step for the short-term rental industry.

Fairbnb co-founder Sitio Veracruz told Fast Company: “I come from an urban planning background so I see transparency and collaboration as very important.”

Veracruz added that communities would have be provided with insight into when tourists are visiting and where. The data would also allow the platform to more actively accept and reject new home rentals in areas that are already being congested by tourists.

European cities like Paris and Amsterdam have been well documented in adopting strict stances against Airbnb, with the former making the firm liable for advertising unregistered users and launching a $14m lawsuit against it. Meanwhile, Amsterdam created a 30-day annual cap on the number of nights a person could rent out their homes for, although Airbnb is resisting the measure in favour of a 60-day cap.

US cities such as New York, San Francisco and Miami have all tried to implement crackdowns on the platform.

Fairbnb says it can work with a network of other local co-operatives that provide services for rentals. It is also looking to partner with people with cognitive disabilities who provide cleaning services for homes and it would donate money to local projects like community gardens.

The co-op takes on a 15 per cent commission on each transaction, with 50 per cent of that going to a social project and the other half going to funding operations. Veracruz wants to create an interface that enables renters to contribute to a social initiative of their choice.

The model has so far enabled more than 700 people to register to host homes. With the funds Fairbnb is hoping to raise, it will look to hire engineers to make its platform fully functional so that tourists can start reserving places later this month.

Fairbnb hopes to launch in Amsterdam, Venice, Barcelona, Bologna and Valencia by the end of June.

Veracruz said: “We’re building a house in the middle of the woods. The more resources we can get, the better.”