Study claims LA loses millions due to Airbnb rentals

VENICE, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Websites like Airbnb may be a great way to book a place to stay, but a new study calls them "illegal hotels" and claims Los Angeles may be missing out on millions of bucks because of them.

It's easy to see why Venice has some of the most Airbnb listings in L.A. but a study suggests that a large percentage of Airbnb's revenue comes from people running unregulated - and often illegal - hotel businesses. Some say it is destroying the community.

Donna Lacey has lived in the same Venice building for 10 years and said nearly all of the units around her have been converted into short-term rentals.

"We have a building with strangers walking around. We don't know who they are. We don't know if they're felons or what their background is," she said.

It's a similar story from Carlos Camara, who said his building has turned into a late-night party scene, and his home is now feeling like an unsafe environment.

The American Hotel and Lodging Association commissioned the study and released the findings at a press conference on Thursday.

"These illegal hotel operators are using Airbnb to dodge their tax obligations," said Troy Flanagan.

The study found that if hosts had to pay the same room tax, tourism fees and other charges hotels do, Airbnb would owe L.A. $41 million a year.

In response, Airbnb said it wants to pay its fair share and is currently working with the city on a solution.

In a statement, the company said: "This factually inaccurate study was paid for by the hotel industry and is intended to mislead and manipulate. Over the last two years, L.A. officials have heard from thousands of middle class Angelinos urging the city to adopt clear, fair rules for home sharing and allow Airbnb to collect taxes on behalf of hosts."

The study's commissioners emphasized that they're not focused on those who occasionally rent their homes to make ends meet. One of those people, Lisa Werlwas, said she depends on Airbnb.

"I'm freelance, so it's not always, you know, steady," she said. "But this makes it steady. It supplements it enough to where it's worth it."
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