Some Setbacks for the Sharing Economy

"Scrutiny of the so-called sharing economy seems to increase every day" and today it's in San Francisco, one of the collaborative economy's model cities.

The San Francisco city attorney sued two landlords Wednesday, claiming they illegally converted residential housing into short-term rentals that were advertised on Airbnb and similar services. The former residents, two of whom were disabled, were evicted using the Ellis Act, a controversial California law that allows landlords to reclaim properties for their own personal use.

Jim Wilson/The New York Times Dennis Herrera, San Francisco City Attorney

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Dennis Herrera, San Francisco City Attorney

Ouch. While Airbnb states that this particular landlord has been banned from the using the site, it doesn't mean it won't happen again.

This isn't a new discussion, especially in San Francisco who is currently in the midst of an affordable housing crisis. "Housing advocates say the law is often abused by landlords seeking to cater to the lucrative tourist market".

Ride-sharing also continues to be a topic of constant scrutiny and platform Uber is currently under investigation by New York attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman for illegal price-gouging  (selling goods at higher than reasonable or fair prices). Schneiderman is also seeking information from Airbnb which ended in court (again) this last Tuesday. 

Check out the rest of the article from The New York Times Blog and let us know what you think. Are these setbacks only the beginning? How can a sharing economy services such as Uber and Airbnb prevent users from abusing services? And how should the law respond?