Here is another homework assignment for my Media Organization Regulations class. Technology opens up new ways of trying to make an income, and new legislation of various kinds often follows after the effects on society and other businesses become manifest. If you are interested in exploring the “gig economy”, “side hustles” or income streams based on assets that you share such as Uber, Airbnb and similar services, you might find this material interesting. I am not a law student or attorney, I am an Advertising and Marketing Communications major. This homework has been graded but I didn’t change anything except an instance of repetitive wording before publishing.
“Carolyn Hasenfratz Winkelmann
Geri L. Dreiling, J.D.
MEDC 5350: Media Organization Regulations
22 November 2020
Contracts and Shared Economy Applications
A contract must include the following elements (“Contract”):
- Mutual assent – an offer has been made by one party and the other has accepted it.
- Adequate consideration – there is an agreement to a payment or compensation of some kind for performing the work.
- Capacity – do the parties meet the legal requirements for being eligible for entering into contracts?
- Legality – is the purpose of the contract within the law?
Laws of the different states in the U.S. might have different interpretations of some of the elements of the above categories, with allowance for different remedies if a party is in breach of a contract (“Contract”).
A digital contract is a contract in which no paper is used. The technology used to indicate acceptance of the contract does vary, and there are some types of contracts that cannot legally be executed digitally (O’Connell). In order for some digital contracts to be valid and enforceable, measures having to do with security and consent must be taken that are unique to digital contracts (O’Connell). These additional steps don’t have to do with the basic elements of a contract, however – the elements have to be present whether the contract is verbal, digital or written on paper.
In New York City, building owners, called “hosts” in this context, have to follow a strict set of regulations if they want to offer their property for short-term rentals on shared economy web sites such as Airbnb (“How to Navigate…”). Other cities in the United States have adopted similar restrictions (“How to Navigate…”).
Proponents of these regulations in New York City say they are intended to hold down housing costs, make it more difficult for property owners to dodge taxes, prevent residential buildings from being turned into hotels and to increase property owner compliance with safety regulations (“How to Navigate…”, Kerr).
Those who want more freedom for hosts in managing their own property are concerned that the legislation is designed to help the hotel industry and unions at others’ expense (“How to Navigate…”).
In Brentwood, MO where I own a condominium, if I were to contemplate using it for short-term rentals, I would be subject to any applicable regulations set by the condo complex, the municipality, the county and the state (Capes Sokol). A quick search shows that city regulations in Brentwood prohibit any rentals of less than 30 days duration in the interests of reserving residential areas for long-term living (Miner). If I were to attempt to defy the law and create a listing for my condo on a short-term rental shared economy web site, any contract I might enter with a potential customer would be invalid because the purpose of the contract would not be within the law (“Contract”). Missouri law is silent on shared economy rentals so smaller government entities within Missouri are free to make their own regulations (Capes Sokol).
I’m generally in favor of more freedom rather than less, especially when making decisions about what to do with one’s own property. However, living close to other people does necessitate consideration for neighbors and we already accept a lot of laws that enforce some concessions from members of the community that they might not offer voluntarily. Condominiums and apartments have additional special considerations that detached single family homes don’t have. I can understand the concerns of someone who thought they were buying a home but find themselves inadvertently living in a hotel.
New York City has taken the additional step of making just creating a shared economy listing for an ineligible property illegal, and punishable by substantial fines (Fishman). Airbnb is currently challenging this law on free speech grounds and until the issue is resolved New York City is refraining from enforcing it. At first I thought the city might be going too far, so I decided to look at how they handle advertising for another service that is illegal – prostitution. In New York law, just to offer the service is illegal (FindLaw), so that seems consistent with the ban on advertising short-term rental listings where they are not allowed.”
Capes Sokol. “Important Considerations for Short-Term Property Rental Hosts in Missouri.”
Capes Sokol, 2016, www.capessokol.com/insights/considerations-short-term-property-rental-hosts-missouri/. Accessed 22 November 2020.
“Contract.” Legal Information Institute, 2020, www.law.cornell.edu/wex/contract. Accessed 19 November 2020.
FindLaw, “New York Prostitution Laws.” Thomson Reuters, 2018, statelaws.findlaw.com/new-york-law/new-york-prostitution-laws.html. Accessed 22 November 2020.
Fishman, Steven. “How to Airbnb in New York City.” Nolo, 2020, www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/overview-airbnb-law-new-york-city.html. Accessed 22 November 2020.
“How to Navigate the NYC Airbnb Law.” Shared Economy, 2019, sharedeconomycpa.com/blog/nyc-airbnb-law/. Accessed 22 November 2020.
Kerr, Dara. “NYC fines Airbnb hosts for ‘illegal’ home rentals.” CNET, 2017, www.cnet.com/news/airbnb-nyc-law-hosts-fined-for-illegal-home-rentals/. Accessed 22 November 2020.
Miner, Doug. “Brentwood clarifies law: no to short term rentals.” 40 South News, 2018, 40southnews.com/brentwood-officials-pass-bill-to-prohibit-short-term-rentals/. Accessed 22 November 2020.
O’Connell, Ann. “Electronic Signatures and Online Contracts.” Nolo, 2020, www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/electronic-signatures-online-contracts-29495.html. Accessed 22 November 2020.