In the current sharing economy, it's becoming increasingly common to see renters subletting their units on vacation rental websites like Airbnb. If you've been thinking about becoming one of them, read on below. We've laid out how subletting through Airbnb works, how to tell if your current lease allows for this venture, and the risks and benefits to weigh before taking this step. Armed with this knowledge, you should be able to make an informed decision on whether or not subletting through Airbnb is right for you.
How does Airbnb subletting work?
At its core, subletting your rental property on Airbnb will work similarly to doing a normal Airbnb rental as a host. You'll list your home on the Airbnb website in order to rent out the space to guests who'll stay there while you're away or while you have unoccupied space. However, instead of offering an Airbnb guest the opportunity to stay in your home as a true short-term rental or for a few nights, you'll offer the option of monthly rentals.
That said, it's worth noting that this process differs greatly from a traditional sublet. Here, instead of creating a new rental agreement that allows your guest to take over the remainder of your lease, you'll only be protected by Airbnb's terms and conditions. Additionally, rather than having to rent out the entire apartment like you might in a traditional subletting scenario, you'll also have the option to only sublet a portion of your space.
How to tell if you'll be allowed to sublet on Airbnb
In truth, renting out a space when you're not the property owner can get a little tricky. To start, you're going to need to carefully read over your lease agreement to ensure that you're even allowed to sublet in the first place. Many leases contain language such as "Tenant may not sublet all or any part of the premises without the landlord's prior written consent."
If your lease contains language like this, subletting in Airbnb is very likely not going to be worth it. In that case, you will be doing something known as illegal subletting. While there's a chance you could book guests who are perfectly respectful and your landlord will never find out, if the landlord does find out about your Airbnb arrangement, he or she will have cause to evict you.
Even if your lease doesn't contain a specific clause against subleasing, it's crucial to get your landlord's permission before putting your apartment up as an Airbnb listing. For one, depending on the local law in your state or municipality, it could be a legal risk. Some communities have put legislation in place to ban short-term rentals like Airbnb entirely. In this case, as the owner of the property, your landlord will be implicated in any legal trouble.
What are the benefits of subletting on Airbnb?
Ultimately, there are a few benefits to subletting on Airbnb. After all, no one would want to go through the trouble of convincing their landlord to take on a new business venture if there wasn't something to be gained from it, right? To that end, we've laid the benefits out for your consideration below. Read them over so you know what to expect from this arrangement.
There's money to be made
The first and most obvious benefit of subletting a rental property is the potential to make money. Whether you're renting out an extra room in your house or renting the entire apartment, the Airbnb guest is going to have to pay you for their stay. The extra money can come in especially handy if you're staying elsewhere for work or a personal commitment and you have to pay for alternative accommodations.
Airbnb handles the payment collection
By subletting through a vacation rental service like Airbnb, you don't have to worry about chasing down your subletter to collect the rent check every month. Airbnb's platform charges guests' credit cards automatically at the beginning of every stay for the length of their stay. All you have to do is sit back and wait for your portion of the money to be deposited into your account.
Taking care of a monthly rental is easier than a true short-term rental
Keep in mind that if you do put your rental listing up on Airbnb, you'll have to play the role of Airbnb host. This means dealing with guests' questions and requests, offering certain complimentary items, and cleaning the unit after each stay. That said, caring for a monthly rental is likely going to be easier than caring for a true short-term rental, where you have a new set of guests coming in and out every few days.
What are the disadvantages of doing an Airbnb sublet?
Benefits aside, there are also some pretty big disadvantages to subletting your apartment on a vacation rental site like Airbnb. You'll want to be sure to weigh the consequences of the risks against any potential monetary benefit as you make your decision. You'll also want to make sure you understand exactly what you're getting yourself into before you put your listing up online.
You could get evicted
We said it earlier, but this is so important that it bears repeating: If you are not permitted to sublet your apartment and you put it up on a short term rental site like Airbnb, both you and your guest could get evicted. Beyond that, depending on how your rental agreement is worded, you could potentially get evicted even if subletting is technically allowed.
Most leases that allow subletting have provisions that allow the landlord to screen every tenant or bind each tenant to the terms of the original lease. If those terms are not adhered to, you could still find yourself searching for a new apartment after ending up in landlord-tenant court.
It could lead to legal trouble
Beyond heading to landlord-tenant court, subletting your apartment could spell legal trouble. For example, since your Airbnb guests aren't going to be covered under your landlord's insurance policy, if they cause property damage, they'll be on the hook for the bill. If that happens, it's very likely that your landlord might take you to small claims court to sue you for the damages, plus legal fees.
The bottom line
Subletting your rental unit on Airbnb may seem like a great idea, but unless you're the apartment owner, this move is inherently risky. Use this post as a guide to the risks and benefits of renting out your leased space on the Airbnb website. Be sure to weigh the benefits and risks before making the best decision for you, your landlord, and your potential Airbnb guests.