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Airbnb creates 100 home-sharing clubs to fight for short-term rental rights

The home-sharing company hopes to replicate its success in heading off restrictive legislation in San Francisco in cities around the US.

Supporters of Airbnb in San Francisco helped protect the company against restrictive short-term rental rules.
DUCEPT Pascal/Hemis/Corbis

Airbnb plans to form 100 home-sharing clubs across the US next year, bringing together allies of the home-rental business to campaign against regulations that might stand in its way.

The company made the announcement on Wednesday following a successful campaign to head off new legislation restricting short-term rentals in San Francisco, Reuters reports. Residents of the Californian city voted against Proposition F, a ballot initiative put to voters in Wednesday's elections, which would have limited short rentals to 75 nights per year.

Airbnb was set up in 2008 to provide short-term rentals in San Francisco, but now operates in 190 countries and has 1.5 million properties on its books. Just like Uber, a fellow Californian startup gone global, the company faces unique regulatory challenges in almost every city in which it operates. Airbnb is popular among users, but has gained enemies in the form of disgruntled neighbours of renting homeowners and regulators. In successfully heading off Proposition F, however, it has proven that with the right lobbying power it can overcome regulatory hurdles.

"We're going to use the momentum of what took place here to do what we did in San Francisco around the world," said Airbnb's global policy chief Chris Lehane, suggesting that the campaign tactics could potentially also be used in other countries. Lehane did not say how much extending the campaign would cost, saying, "We'll spend what it takes to succeed."

The company has attributed much of its success in the San Francisco election this week to the grassroots work of its users, who have volunteered and advocated for Airbnb as part of the "No" campaign it ran. The aim of the home-sharing clubs is to ensure that San Francisco's success can be replicated in anticipation of similarly harmful regulations being proposed elsewhere.

Airbnb spent $8.4 million on its campaign. With the help of 2,000 volunteers, mostly hosts and guests of the service, 285,000 doors were knocked on in the city.