BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Airbnb, the home sharing website, is getting more and more Western New York residents who want to rent out extra rooms or floors short term to make a little extra money.
But the more people who get on board, the more the company is looking to protect both its own interests and those of its hosting clients.
To start, here’s how it works: Airbnb is a website that puts together private homeowners looking to rent extra space they have, like bedrooms, floors, or apartments.
It shows you a picture of the property owners and the price per night, and you can book your short-term stay online.
For example, Kristin Trevisani is a Western New Yorker who loves to travel.
She says the affordability of Airbnb allows her and her husband to travel all over the country.
Trevisani says she's okay with knowing that every private rental comes with a certain risk.
"We only book people who have very high reviews,” she said.
It’s an alternative to a hotel, and Airbnb says more and more homeowners are starting to take advantage of this extra money making option here in Buffalo.
Rupinder Jatana says renting out the third floor of her home has allowed her family to live more comfortably because all of the money she makes goes right toward her three kids’ future college educations.
Her Parkside home is in a desirable area of the city.
"It's nice because there are no hotels that are near this particular area, so this really serves that little niche of the market that don't want to be downtown,” she said.
Jatana has been renting out the third floor apartment in her house for about six months.
She's had about 50 visits, and says so far, it's a success.
"I mean, there are different personalities, and, you know, different ways of living, but everyone has been amazing. Very grateful, very respectful,” Jatana said.
She keeps 97 cents of every dollar on a rental that runs anywhere from $70 to $180 a night, depending on the day of the week and the demand.
Airbnb only takes a flat rate of 3 percent.
The company still has a lot to do though; It’s currently pushing Albany to pass legislation that would allow Airbnb to collect the same occupancy taxes hotels do.
And, the hotel industry is indeed pushing back against Airbnb in the same way the taxi industry resists Uber.
"The hotel industry is certainly the top funder or organizer of resistance to home sharing,” said Josh Melzer, Airbnb’s head of New York Public Policy. “Our perspective is that there's room for both of us. There are people who will always want to stay in a hotel, and then there are people who will want a different experience when they travel.”