Not long ago, a beautiful redhead moved in down the hall from me. My joy was tempered when, a few days later, a sharp-dressed guy entered the apartment. Her significant other?
About a month later, an older couple fumbled with the keys at the same door, chatting in French.
Wait a minute . . .
Airbnb! The service allows New Yorkers and others to rent their apartments to visitors when they'll be out of town for short periods of time. Someone in my building was utilizing the service on a regular basis.
The company has grown dramatically, and last week emerged as a sponsor of the New York City Marathon, which attracts runners from all over the world.
Airbnb emailed its users, saying "We know Airbnb hosts will open their doors and welcome runners who can't wait to have an authentic New York experience."
One authentic New York experience Airbnb is having is agita. The hotel industry has strongly criticized the New York Road Runners Club for partnering with Airbnb, and the state has been looking into whether the service violates tax provisions and rules against unregulated hotels.
State law prohibits absentee owners or renters of multi-unit buildings from renting them for less than 30 days.
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Airbnb recently agreed on host information, protecting the rights of renters who are not violating the law while "pursuing anyone running illegal hotels," says the attorney general.
"It's important to realize that 90 percent of our hosts have only one listing and it's the home they live in," David Hantman, a spokesman for Airbnb, told The New York Times.
Yes, a personal, social networking type, sharing community. Not corporate at all. Kind of like Facebook used to be. Hmm . . .
So as we cheer the marathon runners in November, understand that at least some of them will be renting homes from your neighbors. I appreciate making some cash on my apartment when I'm away, but am afraid of coming back to find the place trashed. And I don't want a parade of transients down the hall either.
Wait a minute -- two gorgeous Scandinavian women hauling suitcases just got off on my floor. Never mind.
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.