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Kiki Club, formerly EasyRent, has roots in New Zealand and calls itself a social network for renters.

Top of this Thursday morning to you, readers! It’s not news, but I found these funny and relatable Airbnb stories amusing. 

Speaking of Airbnb, it might be losing business in New York City but like in life and business, there will always be profiteers when it comes to rentals, and someone’s loss is someone else’s profit.

Touted as “Hinge Meets Airbnb,” Kiki Club, formerly EasyRent, has roots in New Zealand and calls itself a social network for renters. Inspired by dating apps like Hinge, Kiki matches listers with renters who share similar preferences, aiming to make people comfortable with strangers staying in their homes. 

“So what Kiki does fundamentally is that it allows people when they’re going away to have someone stay in their home who they feel like they know,” said Kiki Club CEO Toby Thomas-Smith. “You know, it’s not just a random person going in.”

Users download the invite-only app and go through a vetting process before being matched with hosts looking to rent their apartment or those looking for apartments to rent. Thomas-Smith said that this social bit is essential to the network.

“We won’t even send people options. We only send them the best person and say pretty much like take it, take it or leave it,” said Thomas-Smith. “And we have a 95% acceptance rate on that. And so Kiki’s kind of centered around this whole idea where it’s built for the everyday person to not lose $5,000 when they’re away.” Operating as a mid-term rental, users on Kiki can rent homes for a minimum of 30 days. 

The startup recently raised $9 million, including a $6 million seed round led by Blackbird Ventures, pushing its post-money valuation to $28 million. It hopes to make a mark in New York City. 

Kiki Club takes 10% of rent paid or transactions processed through the app. Put simply, renters get back 90% of the rent through subletters and Kiki Club takes the rest. 

“We saw the situation in New York City and we were like, if Airbnb gets banned, that’s incredible for us,” Thomas-Smith said. “Because the whole reason the regulation is happening with Airbnb is they’re trying to take these short term rentals that used to be long term rentals and put them back on the long term rental market. So they’re going to push out all these investment landlords. That’s incredible for us because we don’t work with landlords. We work with renters who are renting out their home while they’re away.”

Thomas-Smith said that Kiki was founded in 2020 in New Zealand, and expanded to seven cities within the same year, then the company launched in Sydney in February 2022. 

“In 10 months we filled 1,500 homes, processed, let’s say, people $2.5 million of rent payments and made $250,000 of revenue,” Thomas-Smith said.

The invite-only network has 650 people on the waitlist. 

New Short-Term Rental Regulations to Turkey

Turkey is tightening regulations on short-term rentals to counter surging rents, with a proposed bill requiring property owners to get permits from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Properties with rentals of less than 100 days are deemed “tourism-oriented.” Violators may face fines of up to 100,000 Turkish liras ($3,600) per housing unit, Bloomberg reported. The government believes short-term rentals are contributing to rising housing costs and disputes. High consumer inflation and a 25% cap on rental prices have worsened the situation. Despite these challenges, Turkish tourism has seen increased demand, with a 17% rise in tourist arrivals and a 27% increase in tourism income in the first half of 2023. 

Sustainability Certification Provider Sustonica Partners with Booking

Sustonica, a Barcelona-based startup that introduced a sustainability certification for short-term rentals, has partnered with Booking.com. This collaboration offers property owners and managers a pathway to differentiate their properties based on sustainable practices, potentially influencing booking decisions for eco-conscious travelers, Short Term Rentalz reported. 

Sustonica-certified short-term rentals will be featured in Booking.com’s Travel Sustainable filter, with the highest Level 3+ designation reserved for externally verified properties. The certification program is available to vacation rental properties globally, encompassing apartments, houses, and villas. 

Housing Assistance for Hawaii 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is offering financial assistance to individuals affected by the Lahaina and Kula wildfires in Hawaii, making its Section 203(h) mortgage loan program available, Invest Money UK reported. 

This program, insured by the Federal Housing Administration, provides borrowers with the potential for 100% financing, covering closing costs as well. Even homes that weren’t destroyed may still qualify, and existing mortgage holders with damaged properties can also apply. 

This program can exclude the previous mortgage payment in the borrower’s debt-to-income ratio, making it easier to obtain financing. Borrowers are required to stay in touch with their existing lenders and can utilize homeowners’ insurance payouts to cover existing mortgages, eliminating the need to sell their land or property.

Amanda, The Traveling Realtor, Partners with Luxury Home Exchange Club Thirdhome

Short-term rental business operator and realtor Amanda Williams, best known as “The Traveling Realtor,” has partnered with ThirdHome, a luxury home exchange club. This collaboration merges Amanda’s experience in global real estate opportunities with ThirdHome’s travel experiences, offering investment and travel possibilities across 100 countries for property investors and owners. This partnership enables individuals to use their investment properties and vacation homes strategically, earning travel credits for high-end vacation rentals. 

New Short-Term Rental Licensing Program Proposal in Alaska

Two assembly members in Anchorage, Alaska are proposing a new city licensing program for short-term and vacation rental units, such as houses, apartments, and bedrooms listed on platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo, Anchorage Daily News reported.

The initiative aims to gather data on short-term rentals’ impact on housing supply without limiting their number. Owners or hosts would be required to obtain city licenses starting May 1, 2024, with a renewable two-year term, costing $400 per unit annually. The proposal includes conditions on unit types, capacity, liability insurance, and a responsible manager. Violations could result in fines, suspensions, or revocation of licenses. The measure will be introduced for Assembly discussion, allowing time for public feedback and potential revisions.

Oregon To Prioritize Addressing Housing Crisis for 2024 

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek and the state legislature are focusing on addressing the ongoing housing crisis. Following substantial investments to shelter the homeless, lawmakers have a 35-day window to pass new laws and allocate funds to combat the housing shortage, The East Oregonian reported.

Over $330 million was previously allocated for homeless shelters and housing solutions. Governor Kotek’s plan involves doubling the number of homes built in Oregon over the next decade. However, concerns have arisen in cities where new homes are planned, particularly regarding the funds needed for infrastructure. Lawmakers are also exploring strategies to enhance housing affordability, including addressing short-term rentals and streamlining rental applications. 

Governor Kotek established the Housing Production Advisory Council to provide recommendations on constructing 36,000 homes annually over the next decade. The goal is to make at least half of these homes affordable for individuals with incomes at or below 80% of the median income. To meet this criterion, housing costs, including rent or mortgage payments and utilities, should be under $1,400 per month for families, ensuring they spend no more than 30% of their gross income on housing.

Numa Group Appoints a Vice President of Branding

Numa Group, the German hospitality platform specializing in design apartments and studios, has appointed Pascal Duval as vice president of brand. Duval, who has previously served as creative director at companies like ASOS, G-Star, and VanMoof, is tasked with shaping NUMA’s brand identity, creative strategy, and global communications, Short Term Rentalz reported.

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