Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Sharing economy "bnb" property owners must follow public accommodation discrimination laws when offering rentals online


NBCWashington has reported on a flurry of lawsuits against people advertising their homes or condos for temporary rental on Airbnb or Homeaway, for writing in their ads that they do not accept (or that they discourage) families with children.

The suits seem to come from a group called “Social Justice Law Collective

The suits can be initiated by “testers” and seem to offer a theory of offense or injury based on discrimination.  The plaintiff need not have actually rented.

In theory, it would sound as if suits could happen for other discrimination (same-sex couples).

It seems that even short term rentals in private homes are viewed as “public accomodations” and must follow the Fair Housing Law to the letter.

There is a philosophical policy debate over whether “sharing economy” participants have to be held to the same standards as large franchised companies.  Libertarians would say no.  But others would say that de facto discrimination will inevitably develop.

NBC4 also has a link on insurance issues for people who rent their homes temporarily through home-sharing, although I wonder if this could cover hosting people in crises (like asylum seekers) -- seems to need investigation.

Fox5 in DC is reporting on a story as to whether callers to Uber with ethnic sounding names have longer wait times.

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