Updated: Apr 20, 2020

More to come.

Sheila Sánchez Bergara Alan Quaglieri Studies on the adoption of digital technologies in tourism have been increasingly recurrent in the last decade. The transformations that have taken place in the tourist offer have had repercussions on the economy and ecology of the territories. Of special relevance is the exponential proliferation of tourist rentals mediated by platforms. This practice, while not new, thanks to the rise of digital intermediaries has achieved unprecedented popularity, posing major political and regulatory challenges to the governance of several cities. With this context as a reference, we conducted a qualitative research with twofold aims. First, we analyse the main concerns associated with the proliferation of tourist accommodation mediated by the Airbnb online marketplace; second, we examine the main regulatory responses of eight cities. Finally, the main challenges for governance are discussed and the prevailing public policies and legal framework are invited to be rethought.

1. Sound the Alarms!

The majority of STR injuries/deaths are due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarms are certainly encouraged for STRs, but unless local government requires an in-person inspection (which is extremely rare), STRs have no regulations when it comes to Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarms. Even if the listing says CO alarms are present, you have no way of knowing if they are to code and in working order. Don’t risk it:

  • Ask the owner about the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms — when were they last replaced? Are they hardwired? Do they have lithium batteries (required in California)? Are they to code? Most states require Smoke Alarms in every sleeping room, outside every sleeping area, and on each floor. CO Alarms should be outside every sleeping area and on each floor. Ask the owners to send pictures if necessary. Most hosts will thank you calling attention to this detail; in fact, many owners don’t even realize how old their alarms are and most do not know current regulations for placement. If the host gives you grief over these safety questions, consider that bullet dodged and move on to a host that cares.

  • BYOB! It’s not what you think — this is a family vacation after all. In this case, BYOB stands for Bring-Your-Own-Batteries. Add some AA batteries and a 9-volt or two to the diaper bag and test both the Smoke and the Carbon Monoxide Alarms when you arrive at the rental. Better yet, BYOA; First Alert sells a travel Carbon Monoxide Alarm and this cute little smoke alarm will take up minimal room in your luggage (note this alarm cannot be turned on and off; also note that any device with a lithium battery cannot be put in carry-on luggage).

2. Clean Up, Clean Up!

Many short-term rentals require a fee for cleaning services. While a budget-conscious family may balk at the added expense, this cleaning fee buys you more than a lemony-fresh rental, it buys you an added level of safety. The web is filled with Short-Term Rental horror stories of toxic mold and filth. Let’s face it, when you book an STR, you are giving a chunk of hard-earned change towards something sight unseen.

Unless the rental has used a third-party inspection service like DwellWell, a cleaning service may offer they only set of real eyeballs on your intended abode. Rentals that engage professional cleaning services are less likely to surprise you with potential safety issues like mold, excessive dust, cockroaches, and unsanitary bathrooms.

3. Seriously Folks!

Please take current health conditions seriously. For those with ongoing health issues, a vacation away does not mean a vacation from self-care.For example:

  1. Increased levels of pollen, dust, pollution, or even temperature can trigger asthma attacks

  2. High levels of nitrates in tap water could be dangerous for pregnant women

  3. Smog, even at low levels, can instigate a number of respiratory health effects

Should expectant mothers or those with asthma stay at home in a bubble? Of course not, but don’t think your body will react to the environment the same way it does at home. Knowledge is power — if you are at-risk to environmental changes, do your homework: check pollen levels, smog levels, and the water quality.

Savvy hosts may be DwellWell Certified℠, meaning they passed an annual inspection that checks for mold, allergen, and water safety. A little research can go a long way when it comes to vacationing your mind, body, and spirit.

Now that you’ve done due diligence, go ahead and book that professionally cleaned Short-Term Rental. Grab the fam, pack your batteries next to the sunscreen and enjoy your time away.

You’ve earned it.

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