Airbnb is an intermediary platform for private accommodations - rooms, apartments, houses. The American company managed to greatly expand its services. As of now, you can book the alternatives to traditional hotels nearly everywhere on the world.
Verdict in the US
Airbnb tried to prevent a lawsuit against its business concept by arguing that they are only intermediaries. Therefore they wouldn't be responsible for the content their users publish on the platform. They would be neither in charge of verifying the descriptions nor obliged to check if the private landlords have permission to rent their accommodation. Airbnb based its argument on an US law which states that platforms are not liable for the content of their users.
However, the court in San Francisco, home of Airbnb, didn't accept this explanation. From now on, the company has to make sure that the private landlords registered their apartments at the city authorities.
Situation in Austria
Austria has also been deliberating about the best way to deal with Airbnb. If private persons rent their acccommodations without declaring it, they have an advantage over traditional hotels: They make profit without paying taxes.
Therefore, a new regulation will come in 2017: Airbnb landlords in Austria will be obliged to pay the local city tax. This will automatically lead to an official registration at the city authorities.
In connection with the above mentioned verdict, it is possible that Airbnb might request proof of such a registration in the future. This would make sure that only persons with a permission can offer accommodations via the platform. However, it is not yet possible to predict whether this scenario will become reality or not.