The “Sharing Economy” Benefits Homeowners, Guests

By Everet RummelCascadeNewLogo

An emerging sector of many local economies is “homesharing,” or renting space in your home to strangers for a short term, usually a few nights. Smartphone apps such as Airbnb allow owners to list their homes for renters to see. Homesharing is controversial because it remains informal in most places and challenges the status quo of residential living and conventional hotels.

In Portland, homesharing falls under traditional bed and breakfast regulations. These may be too expensive for the typical homeowner, so many homesharers operate illicitly.

In an effort to regulate homesharing and make compliance cheaper, the Portland City Council has taken testimony from citizens. Sharers say that renting provides them with supplementary income, allowing them to keep their homes or enjoy their retirement years. Renters benefit from low prices and a more authentic atmosphere compared with hotel rooms. Opponents of homesharing fear increased noise, diminished neighborhood safety, and that lucrative short-term rental prices would attract landlords to the market, making long-term rentals less affordable.

However, noise and safety issues can probably be resolved by talking to your neighbors and complaining to police if things get out of hand. A study by the Rosen Consulting Group shows that short-term rentals make up a small fraction of the total rental housing stock in San Francisco, so they are unlikely to affect rents. With many benefits and low costs, Portland should embrace homesharing and interfere with it less.

Everet Rummel is a research associate at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Economy, Portland | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Bob Clark

    I like this sharing economy. Portland City Hall should extend the sharing economy next to car ride sharing, allowing a less costly door-to-door commuting service than that currently provided by the artificially created taxi cab monopoly. Once Amazon, Walmart, uber, Side Car and others start competing; the cost of going 8 miles one way in Portland will be a lot cheaper, possibly cutting this cost from $40 to just $20 or less. This would help a lot of lower income folks needing door-to-door service, as well as potentially lead to less cars needed in the aggregate (better utilization of the existing car fleet).

    But Portland City Hall is now siding with the taxi cab establishment, preserving an artificial monopoly. So, need to work on the Mayor and City Council. Maybe propose a pilot project just to get started.

  • We have spoken to hundreds of Airbnb hosts and guests that have had incredibly positive experiences with Airbnb. The “sharing economy” can have a very positive social and financial influence on individuals and on neighbourhoods.

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