Can I Rent My Apartment as an Airbnb?

Maybe, but there are many factors to consider. Depending on your lease and your jurisdiction, you may be able to make some extra cash by renting out your apartment as an Airbnb. Here’s what you need to know.

Look up your local zoning laws

Many local zoning laws restrict or prohibit short-term rental hosting. Unfortunately, legal restrictions on Airbnb rentals are not uniform and can be confusing.

In New York City, for example, it’s illegal to rent an apartment for less than 30 days unless you occupy the property at the same time. In Chicago, Airbnb rentals are allowed only in specific zoning districts. In San Francisco, short-term rentals are restricted to a maximum of 90 days per year. Fines vary across different districts but can be pretty hefty, as much as $1,500 for the first violation.

Hosts are required to register their properties in most jurisdictions. The Airbnb website has a summary of the legal requirements of major cities with links for additional information.

Read your lease

Does it say anything about subletting or limiting overnight guests? Some landlords prevent guests from becoming full-time residents without signing a lease by imposing a limitation to the number of nights a guest may stay.

Others may restrict renting out your apartment to control noise levels and other disturbances created by short-term stays. Your lease may allow renting out your apartment, but have a provision that requires prior written consent.

Get permission from your landlord

Although some people rent on Airbnb without telling their landlord, it’s not a good idea and can get you evicted. If neighbors complain or your landlord objects to short-term rentals, you could get into a messy situation.

Be respectful and tell your landlord that you’re exploring the opportunity to rent on Airbnb. Speak openly and gauge their receptiveness to the idea. Be flexible and chances are you can work something out.

Try to create a win-win situation. Offer to pay higher rent or share a percentage of the money you earn. Keep in mind that if you make money by renting out your space, your landlord may be amenable if they earn extra money, too.

If they’re worried that your guests could damage the property or bother neighbors, you could agree to rent out only a portion of your apartment, so that you’ll be present to deal with any issues that arise.

You could also agree to purchase additional liability insurance and limit the rentals to certain days and times. You may also offer to increase your security deposit or extend your lease. Negotiate and compromise to make an Airbnb rental worthwhile to your landlord. If you come to an agreement, be sure to get the details in writing.

Once you’ve determined that you can rent your apartment as an Airbnb, set up an account and create your rental listing. Everything you need to know is on their website. Before you know it, you’ll be earning extra cash and on your way to becoming a Superhost.

Photo courtesy of AlesiaKan /
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Rachel CooperRachel Cooper is a freelance writer and author with more than a decade of online journalism and content creation experience. She has written for, Washingtonian, Federal City Council, Montgomery Parks, Destination Maryland, Conde Nast Traveler, Payscale, Valpak,, Washington Parent and more. Her books include Quiet Water: Mid-Atlantic, AMC’s Canoe and Kayak Guide to the Best Ponds, Lakes and Easy Rivers; 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Washington, D.C. and Images of Rail: Union Station in Washington, D.C.

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