The shared economy is a newer term often used to describe economic and social activity involving online transactions. The shared economy can take a variety of forms, and typically provides consumers with access to goods and services not normally available to them through commercial enterprises. This is especially true with accommodation rentals. According to Rachel Botsman’s book What’s Mine Is Yours, the peer-to-peer rental market is valued at $26 billion, with new services and platforms emerging frequently, and the most dominant of which is AirBnB.

If you are interested in using a shared economy accommodation provider for your next great adventure, ask yourself the following questions to help you determine if it’s the right choice for you:

1. Do your research.

Using the search, filter and reviews features on accommodation sites can help narrow your focus and help you access specific details about the listing. As you complete your booking, know that there are more steps involved than booking a hotel. Typically the dates are requested and sent to the owner, and once confirmed, the site will handle your payment, including a booking fee. Cancellation policies can vary so know what the rules are before you book for that specific property. Don’t forget to take some time to look into the neighbourhood.

2. Be aware of all fees and charges.

Most owners are allowed to charge a cleaning fee. Some charge it, some do not, and for those that do, the amount can vary. Owners can also ask for a damage deposit and are able to make claim through the service provider to initiate a claim against it after you’ve left.

3. Do your due diligence when you arrive.

AirBnB and other shared economy accommodation networks are an informal community of private citizens who are renting their spaces and may not have been safety checked like commercial hotels and resorts. Check your accommodation thoroughly when you arrive. Are the locks solid and functioning? Are the windows secure? Are there smoke detectors and can you test them? Are your exits easy to access and well lit?

AirBnB clearly lists their terms and policies on their website, before booking your accommodation, look through here.

If you feel like something isn’t right, reach out to us

If you walk away from signing a contract or paying for a product or service and something just doesn’t feel right, contact us. We are responsible for overseeing certain consumer protection laws in British Columbia. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best solution. Either way, we will do our best to give you the most relevant information.