Airbnb slow to take off in Greenwich
GREENWICH — Aldo Pascarella began renting his beachside estate on Airbnb this year after his living situation was altered by a death in the family.
Pascarella, the landlord and a real estate attorney, moved his family in with his father after his mother died. Because Pascarella took all the family’s belongings to his father’s home, he knew he had to stage and furnish the house in order to sell it. It made sense to rent the empty home on Airbnb while it sat dormant and ready to accommodate.
He considered the prospect of short-term rentals because he had good experiences staying at Airbnb homes in Copenhagen, Rome and the United Kingdom, Pascarella said in a phone interview.
“In England last summer, the Airbnb (my family) stayed at was owned by the Duke of Somerset on 10,000 acres of land,” he said. “It was a great experience, and I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t offer similar experiences here in Connecticut.”
For $1,000 a night, guests can enjoy the amenities of the Pascarella’s home and private beach in a gated community. The homeowner said he also receives some unusual requests, like people asking to film music videos on his property. But Pascarella said he maintains staunch personal standards in accepting guests.
“We want the best and brightest from around the world,” he said, citing venture capitalists and doctors from other countries as recent guests.
Airbnb by the numbers
There are 70 active hosts in Greenwich as of July 1, according to data recently released by Airbnb, and more than 1,900 guests were accommodated in the town last year. The typical Greenwich host made $6,800 a year by sharing their homes for about three nights a month.
Of Greenwich hosts, 62 percent are women and 28 percent are over the age of 60.
Also, more than 13,400 people from Greenwich used Airbnb to stay in other locations last year.
Some people in Pascarella’s neighborhood aren’t enthusiastic about the idea of guests coming and going from their exclusive community. For that reason, he’s in favor of reasonable regulations for short-term rentals.
“I think that regulation of the activity in a reasonable manner that is narrowly tailored to the concerns of the community, but doesn’t infringe upon private property rights and the rights of people to rent their property, would be a good thing,” Pascarella said.
The increase in Airbnb use has led to states and municipalities attempting to regulate the company. Governing bodies have taken varying approaches in their attempt to ensure Airbnb won’t impact the hospitality industry and the housing market, or disturb neighborhoods.
Greenwich has no regulations covering Airbnb or short-term rentals, according to Michael Long, director of environmental services for the town’s health department. There’s been no need to in Greenwich, Long said, perhaps becuase Airbnb has been slower to take off in the town than in some other communities.
“We don’t have any regulations specific to (Airbnb),” he said. “We respond to complaints from renters and see how their complaints relate to the housing code.”
One approach to regulation has been to require a 30-day minimum for rentals, as New York City has. Officials in municipalities such as New Fairfield, New Haven and Stamford are starting to consider regulating rentals.
Two years ago, Connecticut’s legislature partnered with Airbnb to collect lodging tax. Since then, the state has received $5.2 million in tax revenue from Airbnb, according to the company.