LOS ANGELES -- High school sweethearts Tom and Sharon were married for 50 years, during 40 of those they lived in a three-bedroom Los Angeles home with their three children.
But slowly the house grew more quiet. The children moved out, and two years ago, Sharon who loved playing piano was diagnosed with cancer.
“We had our 50-year anniversary party at the marina, it was special. This is our picture when we got married and at the party. I’ll always treasure that, we lost her five months later,” Tom said.
“She never complained, she is really a fighter and we lost her about a month ago. So that’s why I’m kind of emotional, but we’re OK, it gets a little lonely at night,” said Tom, choking back tears.
Her loss has been trying, emotionally and financially.
“Her medical bills were significant, and the funeral costs were significant, and Airbnb made the difference,” Tom said.
Tom has used the money from Airbnb to supplement his limited income as a retiree and stay above water.
So he is concerned how L.A.’s new rules on short term rentals, which will start to be enforced on November 1, will impact him.
He has two rooms for rent in his three-bedroom home, but under the new rules, he can’t rent out both rooms at the same time. He’ll also have to register with the city and pay close to $1,000 in fees to rent out the rooms for more than 120 days a year.
“The 120 days in one bedroom, it’s going to be tough, that’s going to be a dramatic cut, and I’m going to have to find different ways to accommodate that. I would hate to have to take out a second mortgage or a reverse loan on the house,” said Tom.
Hosts and Airbnb are asking the city to delay enforcing the new rules, saying the systems aren’t in place, the rules are unclear and there are still many concerns
But city officials insist the rules are needed to get a handle on the housing crisis, as experts say Airbnbs increase short-term rentals at the expense of long-term units.
Critics say short-term rentals take much-needed housing off the market.
There are roughly 23,000 homes and units available for rent on short-term rental platforms, according to host compliance LLC, a company that monitors the industry.
As many as 10,000 of those properties are used primarily for short-term rentals. That means 10,000 fewer homes to live in. Critics say that limited supply drives up costs for everyone else.
But Tom says his units would never be long-term.
“I just want to do the right thing for my family, my neighborhood, my community and my city too, they’ve been good to me and I’m trying to be a good steward of my resources,” he said.
But what’s clear is that in the last few weeks, renting out rooms has given him something more than financial stability, it has given him purpose and companionship.
“It’s been good for me to interact with people and to visit with people and to share with people, they share their story with me and I share my story with them,” he said.