Airbnb.com offers homeowners a way to make a little extra cash by renting a room in their home, by the day or by the month. All transactions are taken care of via the website. The city of Roanoke recently cited homeowners, requiring them operate as a bed and breakfast with a permit.
“I tried to explain that breakfast isn't part of the deal and they tried to explain that in order to apply for the bed and breakfast license, approve to operate a bread and breakfast, I need to be serving them breakfast,” said host River Laker.
Laker advertises his home on the website. He says he doesn't want to serve breakfast, despite the name of the site, which doesn't require him to.
The letter from the city states that Laker needs to apply for a Bed and Breakfast permit, and ask for a special exception before the city's Board of Zoning Appeals and if approved, to starting serving breakfast.
“It's inappropriate for a government body to say to me, I need to provide my guest who are paying to stay for a certain experience to now start providing them breakfast,” said Laker.
Corbin Prydwen recently listed his home on Airbnb and within one week he received a call from the city stating that he was in violation. He says he would rather not operate as a bed and breakfast.
“That's another business that I would legally have to go get another business license for; set up a whole different account for; pay different taxes through, so it becomes more of a headache,” said Prydwen.
Prydwen House is already set up as separate apartments which he rents. He doesn't see why this changes its usage, if he rents it out on a daily rate.
Another option for Airbnb host is to apply for a boarding house use permit, but those zoning areas are far and few in the city. If host don’t comply the city will bring them to court.