Airbnb's are not always what they apple to be....
When I was shopping for a vacation rental condo I would fly into Maui for a day or two as new units came on the market and I booked a room through Airbnb. I've done this in New York, Rome and Serranto and couldn't have asked for better. Great locations, great prices and local advice from the owners who lived there.
So when I was staying over night in Maui I thought, "Why Not?". I choose women owners, with cleaning, modern condos. The ad implied I'd be sharing the condo with the owner and though I was a single woman I felt safe staying with somebody in their own house, especially another woman. The truth was terribly disappointing.
The "owners" had rented apartments - not condo's, put locks on the bedroom doors and rented the rooms out to different people. The living room area was blocked off and the kitchen empty except for a coffee pot and paper cups. Really weird and really uncomfortable. I found myself sharing space - including the bathroom - with strangers who had no connection to the unit. I feel fortunate the others were quiet and stayed in their own rooms.
These Airbnb's were "illegal", meaning in complexes that don't allow vacation rentals. In Maui, a vacation rental property has a different zoning than a residential complex. A vacation rental complex often has a front desk, social activities open to guests and more security. But to me the biggest difference in an illegal unit is the people living in the complex don't want you there. Would you want strangers in and out every fews days on your street?
Illegal Airbnb's can be be huge money makers. I paid $100/night in a three bedroom apartment and if all three rooms were filled the woman made around $9000/month. That much money is a great incentive but morally and socially wrong. Each illegal unit takes away available housing for local people and lack of available, affordable housing is a huge problem in Maui. I want to be part of life solutions, not problems.
How to avoid illegal Airbnb's? There are good people who want to share their homes with you. Here are some rules to avoid the bad ones.
Part time Maui resident sharing my Kihei condo with guests when I'm staying in my mainland home.