WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Gaston and Alexa de los Reyes often use the website Airbnb to rent out a spare room in their home. To them, it's a "reliable and significant" source of income.
In D.C., Airbnb has become hugely popular, with 3,700 different listings to choose from. It's no secret why the site has been so successful. A guest room at a residence on O street will run you just $99 per night. A few blocks away, the Westin charges $239 a night even before you include tax. Since its inception six years ago, more than 11 million people have found a place to stay using the site.
Airbnb's introduction into the hospitality world hasn't been smooth nationwide though. In New York, where apartment rentals of less than 30 days are illegal, the attorney general has subpoenaed Airbnb's user data, a demand the site is fighting in court.
Even worse, some who offer places to stay on Airbnb have found that their homes have been used for prostitution or sex parties. One man, Ari Teman, rented his New York City apartment to a man who said his brother and sister-in-law were coming to town.
"It turns out, by brother and sister-in-law, he meant large orgy," Teman told the WABC-TV in New York.
In a New York Post story titled "Hookers turning Airbnb Apartments into Brothels," one prostitute said that using the website was much cheaper than renting an upscale Manhattan hotel room. In Washington, one woman discovered that the men renting her apartment were using it as a base for their "erotic massage" business, charging up to $300 per hour.
Airbnb calls these types of situations "incredibly rare," and added in a statement that they have a zero tolerance policy for these types of activities.