MOUNT VERNON, Va. - There is a big debate going on between some neighbors in Fairfax County. They say for months, they have seen a number of Airbnb tenants come in and out of one of the homes in their community. They say not only is it illegal in the county, it also compromises their safety.
Residents say this neighborhood is a family-friendly community and everybody pretty much knows everybody. There are a lot of children that live on this block and safety for them is the biggest priority here.
That is why most of the neighbors we spoke with are against short-term rental companies like Airbnb.
"We don't know who they are,” said Dan Berger. “There is no vetting. You don't know if there are sexual predators down there, you don't know if there are ex-convicts, you don’t know if there are criminals. We have no idea. We all know each other in this neighborhood. We all have children. There are two dozen children that live within a hundred yards of this home, and we have no idea what is going on."
According to the current ordinance in Fairfax County, it is illegal to have short-term rentals for a period of less than 30 days.
John McEwan, the owner of the rental property, admitted that what he was doing was illegal. However, he also says Airbnb is a legitimate company and he believes it will eventually be implemented in the county.
"Uber is to transportation as Airbnb is to houses,” McEwan said. “Both of these models, the reason why they are so successful and they are taking the world by storm is because they vet. That means they check out, they do the background of both sides of transaction – the buyer and seller. So when you going to do an Uber car, you know that this is not some stranger giving you a lift. You know he is in the system and you are going to be rating this guy, and the same thing with Airbnb."
Right now, there is a county survey going around asking residents what they think about allowing and or accommodating Airbnb into their communities. We are told by county leaders that they are looking into making exceptions to the current ordinance because of Virginia law that allows short-term rentals.