On the surface, Airbnb offers very little defense for bad guests. Yet millions of hosts trust millions of guests every year. Reviews are a powerful credential, and a guest with many good reviews finds it easy to book.
Could these reviews apply to tenants and landlords? They might be more valuable than the traditional credentials. The pay stub excludes people without a traditional income source, the credit check excludes young people without much credit history, and references are hand-picked and easy to game.
A tenant already familiar with Airbnb might look there first. And she already knows how to pay Airbnb, avoiding the often complicated need for checks and snail mail.
Furnished apartments might become more common because that's the expectation of an Airbnb rental. And finding a temporary guest is easy if the tenant decides to go on vacation for a week or a month. The landlord and tenant could share the extra income, making vacations cheaper. Coupled with jobs that support working remotely, many more people could travel much more often.
Prospective tenants might try out a house for a week or two before committing to stay long term. Airbnb could offer a model similar to ski & snowboard demo rentals, where the cost of the rental is applied to the monthly rent if the guest decides to become a tenant.
Instead of long-term and inflexible, housing is now lightweight and flexible.