Michael Parks, the owner of Oscar’s B&B in Buffalo is concerned that after he spent over fifty thousand dollars on renovating his Elmwood Village home into a Bed and Breakfast, Airbnb operators aren't being held to the same standard “If I had just listed it on Airbnb we’d be flying under the regulatory radar and no one would have ever known what we’re doing.”
Parks and his wife opened their business just under two years ago and have been successful despite going up against Airbnb. Parks says he doesn't begrudge anyone operating an Airbnb, but he does want a level playing field for anyone renting properties in Buffalo.
”If We’re expected to have a lodging permit, it seems fair tat they should be required to have it, if we collect hotel tax and sales tax, it seems sensible that they should have to do that too, otherwise its not a competitive market.”
Buffalo Common Council member Joel Feroleto acknowledges that the law needs to be looked at, but is mostly concerned about the safety of people visiting the Queen City.
“When Someone who’s not in the business of renting out their property all the sudden gets into the business, you just want to make sure that they know what needs to be done to make sure that it’s a safe property.”
In a statement to 7 Eyewitness news, an Airbnb spokesperson says they’re committed to working with the city to find a solution
"We are eager to work with Erie County and the City of Buffalo to craft common sense policies and to collect and remit taxes on our hosts behalf."
The Penalty of running a lodging house without a license in the city is a fifteen hundred dollar fine, or fifteen days in jail.
However, the council members we spoke with say they have no intention of issuing fines at this point, and are more interested in working with Airbnb operators to help them comply with local laws.