LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Mary Williams started renting out her Century City guest house three years ago as a way to bring in a little extra income.
“My business I lost pretty much in the recession, so I’m career-transitioning,” she said. “This has helped me bridge the gap.”
What began as an experiment in the “gig economy” has now become a significant source of income.
She rents out the guest house at least two-thirds of the month and charges anywhere from $95 to $120 a night on Airbnb.
“The income has been a significant part of my monthly earnings,” she said. “It’s helping me pay my bills, that’s for sure.”
Since launching in 2008, Airbnb says women have made more than $10 billion dollars renting out their homes on the site.
A study commissioned by the company also says that a majority of hosts in Los Angeles — 53 percent — are women.
Roughly 8,000 women in the LA area list their homes on the site, the company says, and the typical woman host in Los Angeles earns about $7,700 a year.
Airbnb says that female hosts have historically outnumbered male hosts worldwide. The company says it currently has more than 1 million female hosts.
Airbnb chief executive Brian Chesky has said the ability to make money renting on Airbnb is an “equalizing notion” that may even be helping women compensate for the gender wage gap. Many women report using their Airbnb earnings to invest in their own entrepreneurial pursuits, Chesky said.
“In 60 seconds anyone can be an entrepreneur,” he told CBS This Morning. “Anyone can be a host. That spirit becomes an equalizing notion.”
Lily Garcia rents out a room in her family’s home in South Los Angeles.
“Home sharing has given me the opportunity to contribute to my family financially,” she said. “Opening our home to guests on Airbnb has allowed us to pay our mortgage and afford to stay in our home. I really appreciate the guests that arrive at my house and try to make them feel at home in LA.”
About 21 percent of women Airbnb hosts in Los Angeles say they use their extra income to support themselves while working part-time.
Williams is now back to working full time, but says she won’t be closing the door to her rental anytime soon.
“Even if my career were to suddenly take off, I’d still probably do this,” she said.
Still, Airbnb hosts face an uncertain future as cities such as Los Angeles grapple with how to regulate the burgeoning short-term rental industry.
The LA City Council is expected to consider a proposal this year that would force hosts to register with the city and limit the number of times a year a property can be listed in a year, the LA Times reports.