Up in the Air: Harmonizing the Sharing Economy Through Airbnb Regulations

Author: Johanna Interian
Published on: May 2016 in Boston College International and Comparative Law Review

Why we select this research?

This research focuses on Airbnb as a leader in accommodation sharing and argues that Airbnb should be held liable for limited actions of hosts that are consistent with the externalities typically associated with transient home sharing. The report discusses the regulations implemented in various jurisdictions in both the United States and Europe following the arrival of Airbnb. It presents a discussion of the various legal frameworks that typically govern relationships resembling, though not squarely matching, those between Airbnb, its hosts, and its guests. This is highly relevant for policy makers all around the world. 

Key findings

The authors argue that Airbnb’s simultaneous uniqueness and resemblance to traditional legal relationships calls for the application of limited duties and regulations. The company should be held liable for ensuring basic compliance by using reasonable measures similar to what already has been implemented in numerous European cities. Airbnb should continue its initial efforts in ensuring host compliance with local laws, but this should not be limited only to remitting taxes and complying with housing rules. Airbnb boasts that its platform connects people while simultaneously disclaiming any responsibility between it, its users, and the communities that its operations affect. The technology-powered sharing economy presents unprecedented opportunities for producers and consumers to enjoy a more efficient and productive coexistence. The benefits it may offer, however, do not validate the deterioration of systems that have been put in place to ensure safety and to promote a thriving and accessible residential housing market. Web-based platforms have become fixtures in our daily lives, and although they produce benefits, they can also undermine legal frameworks intended to promote safety, competition, and stable communities. In particular, the pervasiveness of Airbnb calls for updates to the laws—both federal and local—that govern behaviors and transactions on the company’s platform. 


Johanna Interian (2016). Up in the Air: Harmonizing the Sharing Economy Through Airbnb Regulations, 39 B.C. Int'l & Comp. L. Rev. 129. Retrieved from: http://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/iclr/vol39/iss1/6