“I live next door to an Airbnb"



When I moved into my latest Bywater half-shotgun rental, there was a problem with the doorbell. Pressing the button next to my door sounded the bell inside my neighbor's house, and vice versa. I discovered this about a week after moving in, when I answered the door and found puzzled foreign tourists on the opposite side of the porch. They were my neighbor's latest pair of weekend Airbnb guests. A new duo or trio appears almost every weekend.

  I was completely unsurprised. At my last place, the neighbors rented through Airbnb during their frequent trips out of town. The neighbors on the other side had a charmingly renovated Airstream trailer parked in the yard to accommodate guests. Lots of people in New Orleans have a side hustle, and increasingly it's part-time landlord (or sublessor) and guesthouse manager.

  The accommodations my current neighbor offers are basic: a tiny cottage in the backyard, essentially a garden shed with an air conditioning unit and a tiny porch. Guests go into the main house for the bathroom and kitchen. It's inexpensive, so the visitors are a young crowd, the sort of budget road-trippers or world travelers you'd expect to find in a hostel. For the most part they keep to themselves.

  Despite many reasons it could bother me, the constant stream of visitors doesn't. It's a little odd to have strangers around all the time, but I can relate to young travelers. Potential issues of regulation and tax evasion seem more like my neighbor's problem than mine. As New Orleans apartment hardships go, I prefer tourists to roaches, leaky ceilings and Cox installation.

  Would I feel differently if I owned my home, rather than renting? Probably. And there are drawbacks, most obviously the impossibility of securing a shared backyard to which guests need 24-hour access. If I had allergies or small children, I wouldn't be so unfazed about opening my back door and seeing strangers playing with their dog. When visitors park cars stuffed with road trip gear on the street, I worry the block could become a easy target for theft.

  While there've been no problems so far, no one is insuring me against the risk of a destructive or violent guest showing up practically at my door. If an issue arose, there's no regulatory board to approach. I can't imagine Airbnb itself would want to hear my complaints.

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