Do you rent your property? Are you thinking about subletting on Airbnb?
A lot of people want to start Airbnb hosting as a side hustle, but many of them have landlords. Your landlord can be an incredible ally or a vicious enemy. It all depends on how you approach the situation. Is subletting on Airbnb possible for you?
I often get asked:
Can I Airbnb a rental? If so, how can I approach my landlord and get permission to rent out my space?
Because, at the end of the day, it's not entirely your decision. You don't own your property. Your landlord has the power to make your hosting dreams a reality or take them away.
In this article, you'll learn the right way to get your landlord's permission for subletting your Airbnb.
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Subletting on Airbnb: Can You be an Airbnb Host if You Rent?
Yes, you can.
You should only do so after you've spoken with your landlord and gotten their permission.
As a general rule of thumb, you should never Airbnb a rental without telling your landlord.
If you read your lease, there's most likely going to be a provision that prohibits you from subletting without your landlord's consent.
You might get away with renting without consent for a while, but your landlord will find out. There might be a fire in the unit or a neighbor might rat you out.
This will damage your relationship and land you in legal hot water. You may face fines, lawsuits, and even eviction.
Understanding Your Landlord
You might be asking yourself:
What's the big deal? Why would my landlord care if I wanted to Airbnb my rented apartment?
To answer these questions, you have to see things from your landlord's perspective. Landlords view their long-term rentals as a low-risk way of making a modest (or great) income.
They've spent a considerable amount of capital purchasing, renovating, and marketing their property. They do all that to lock in a stable source of income at low-risk.
The worst thing that could happen to them would be losing a tenant or dealing with property damage. Both of which are easily resolved. They can find a new tenant, and insurance usually covers the cost of repairs.
Imagine that you're a landlord. One of your tenants approaches you and asks if they can rent your property to strangers at a profit.
Would you agree?
Probably not. They're essentially asking you if you're willing to turn your low-risk, modest income property into a high-risk, modest income one.
You're going to say no because no one is willing to take a risk without getting any potential benefits.
That's why you, as a tenant, have to frame the situation as a win-win.
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Preparing for the Conversation
Asking for your landlord's permission will be more than a simple yes/no conversation. It's going to be a negotiation.
Understanding Your Position
In any negotiation, you have to understand your position. You want to know how much bargaining power you have and what you need to prepare beforehand.
- How long have you been a tenant? Are you a good tenant? Do you pay your rent on time? Do you have a good relationship with your landlord?
- How old is your landlord? Has your landlord heard of Airbnb before? Is your landlord open to new ideas?
- What's the current rental market like? How quickly could your landlord find a new long-term tenant?
- Does your landlord have many properties?
You'll be in a strong position if:
- You've been a tenant for a long time
- Your landlord likes you (or is at least comfortable with you)
- Your landlord has heard of and understands Airbnb
- Your landlord only has a few properties
- The rental market isn't doing so hot
The stronger your position, the less you'll have to compromise on to get a yes. If you've been a tenant for 10+ years, you're going to have a better chance than if you were a new tenant.
If you're a new tenant, take some time to build a relationship. Find opportunities to chat with your landlord and show them how much you love the place. Share photos with them. This indirectly tells them that you're taking good care of the property. Once you've established some trust, you can have the Airbnb conversation with them.
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Knowing the Laws
There have been increasing amounts of Airbnb regulations in recent years. Make sure you understand these laws and know which ones could affect you and your landlord.
If your local laws prohibit any kind of short-term renting, there's no point in having the Airbnb conversation with your landlord. It'll be a waste of time for both of you.
Some local laws don't prohibit short-term rentals, but they do place restrictions on them. For instance, you may only be allowed to rent your property for 120 days per year. You may also be required to register with your city and pay a license fee.
Regardless of where you live, you want to make sure you're complying with all local laws. This includes tax laws as well.
Starting the Conversation
Asking your landlord for permission to Airbnb a rented apartment should be a conversation, not a business pitch. This means having a dialogue and asking them for their opinions, thoughts, and concerns.
Meeting in Person
While not always possible, you should try your best to have this conversation in person. A lot of nonverbal signals (e.g. facial expressions) aren't expressed over the phone or email.
If you say something and your landlord makes a face, you can ask them about it. You may end up uncovering a key objection that you wouldn't have otherwise.
You want to understand your landlord as best you can before you share your idea with them.
Consider the following questions:
- What does my landlord care about? What's important to them? What worries them?
- How can I help my landlord?
- What else am I missing? Is my landlord going through tough times? Do they need a stable, consistent income?
Getting answers to these questions can help you frame the conversation. If your landlord is super risk-averse, you should focus on how you're going to mitigate their risk.
Asking for Opinions
It may be helpful to start the conversation by asking them for their opinions on Airbnb. This way, you can figure out what they know already and what myths to dispel.
Keeping it Simple
Airbnb can get a little complicated, especially if you get into the technicalities. Some landlords might not want to know all the small details, so don't force it on them.
Excessive and unnecessary information can overwhelm your landlord. People tend to stick with the status quo when faced with something they don't understand. You want to keep it as simple as possible and only dive into the details if asked.
Focusing on Benefits
It's a good idea to focus heavily on what your landlord will get out of this deal.
For instance, phrase your idea as a test not only for you but also for your landlord.
I want to Airbnb my rental to see if it's something worth doing in the long-run. This won't be a permanent thing, at least not until I've seen how it can benefit both of us.
We can use my unit as a test to see if this is something you could do to earn more on your unoccupied units.
People are more open to trying new things if it's phrased as something temporary.
You can also mention how you're going to improve the property. Guests want quality properties, so you're going to make sure the unit is in the best shape possible. This might include taking care of the landscaping or painting the house.
You can even offer to share your listing photos with your landlord, especially if you hired a professional photographer. This can be useful for landlords who are advertising similar properties and can save them hundreds of dollars.
Being Upfront and Honest
You want to be upfront and honest about your intentions. Airbnb isn't a risk-free business. Acknowledge that there's some risk involved but you're more than willing to work with them, so it's a win-win for everyone.
Any dishonesty will damage the goodwill you've built and may result in them withdrawing their consent.
Related Post: Most Comprehensive Airbnb Hosting Guide On The Internet
Getting to Yes with Creative Ideas
Most landlords are going to be a bit resistant at first. But once your landlord knows they can trust you, they'll ask you questions about risk and income. Be prepared to have some ideas on how you can mitigate their risk and increase their income.
Because Airbnb is a business, homeowners insurance will not cover any Airbnb-related damages. You can offer to purchase your own vacation rental insurance (around $2,000 – $3,000 per year).
You can also explain to your landlord about how Airbnb's host protection insurance works. In essence, Airbnb provides protection for up to $1,000,000 to a host for any Airbnb-related incidents such as property damage or theft.
For example, a guest is on a treadmill in the gym of the apartment building. The treadmill breaks, and the guest is injured. The guest brings a claim for the injury against the host and the landlord. Airbnb will step in and cover the damages.
If these aren't enough, you can offer to amend the rental contract. You could increase the size of your security deposit or even ask to cover certain damages yourself.
You can offer to only rent on Airbnb during certain times and to certain groups. For instance, you can promise not to rent out your unit on holidays (e.g. New Year's) and to groups with 5+ people. You can also install noise monitoring tools like Noiseaware to protect the party from properties.
You can also promise to live in the property during stays and only rent out private rooms.
A lot of safety concerns can be dealt with if your landlord sees you have a guest screening process. Landlords are often worried about bad tenants since they can't screen guests themselves.
Beyond tackling risk issues, you want to emphasize how you can increase their income (if they're still unconvinced).
Here are three ways:
- Extend your lease
- Pay a flat fee or a percentage of Airbnb earnings
- Pre-pay rent upfront
There are many other ways for you to mitigate your landlord's risk and increase their income. Be creative.
At the end of the day, it's up to you to decide what you're willing to give. Sometimes, your landlord might want too much, such that it's no longer worth it.
Convincing an Unconvinced Landlord: The Last Resort
If your landlord is still unconvinced, you can go another route. Most landlords work with a lawyer on contracts, insurance, and tenant rights. Find out who their legal counsel is and contact them. State your case and try to convince them of the advantages of your proposal.
Lawyers are legally bound to represent their clients' best interests. So, if you get a landlord's legal counsel to support your idea, it'll be much harder to landlords to say no.
Getting Started on Airbnb
Once you've gotten consent from your landlord, you're now ready to start hosting on Airbnb. Airbnb is a business, and it's going to take the right systems and mindsets to become a successful Airbnb host.
Talked to your landlord? Start making cash today!