Can I Rent My Apartment as an Airbnb?

Got an extra room to spare? Airbnb could be a great way to get some extra return on that rental investment.

Depending on your lease and your jurisdiction, you may be able to make some extra cash by renting out your apartment as an Airbnb host. There are several factors that tenants need to know before listing an apartment on Airbnb.

Learn the specifics of local laws about short-term rentals

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

In New York City, for example, it’s illegal to rent out an apartment for less than 30 days unless you also 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 as much as $1,500 for the first violation, so it’s really important to understand the rules in your specific area before signing up to be a short-term rental.

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

lease agreement

Read your rental agreement

Leases can vary widely between landlords, especially as it relates to short-term rental hosting. Go through the all-important lease agreement to figure out if you even have permission to pursue this further. 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 on the number of nights a guest may stay. Check all of the fine print before taking the next step to Airbnb your apartment.

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

Get permission from your rental property landlord

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

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, open-minded and honest with your intentions, and you might be able to get on the same page and work something out.

Offer some key incentives

If possible, sweeten the pot by making it a win-win situation for both you and your landlord. Offer to pay higher rent or share a percentage of the money you earn from Airbnb renters. If you make money by renting out your space to additional tenants, your landlord may be amenable if they earn extra money, too.

If the landlord is 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 offer 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 work something out, be sure to get the details in writing in an updated lease agreement.

Can I actually airbnb my apartment? Ask your landlord before leasing your space to guests.

How to Airbnb your apartment

Once you’ve determined that you can rent your apartment as an Airbnb, it’s time to get your listing online so you can start earning some extra money. Fortunately, Airbnb’s user-friendly process makes it easy-peasy to meet and even exceed guest expectations.

But as noted on the Airbnb website, of the 2 million people who host, no one does it exactly the same. To get started, head to the Airbnb site and click “host your home” at the top of the page.

1. Fill them in

The first step in setting up an Airbnb account is to tell them what city you live in and if you’re renting out the entire place, a private room or a shared room. They also want to know how many guests you’re willing to accept at a time, so do the math and figure out how many people the site can sleep comfortably. Then, click “get started.”

2. Log in

At this point, you’ll have to log in or create a free account to list your Airbnb apartment. Go ahead, we’ll wait.

apartment amenities make it easier to list a fast-selling apartment on airbnb

3. Provide details

Now is the time to get specific about what your listing has to offer, so be sure to select “apartment” from the property type dropdown list. Next, you’ll designate the number of beds and bathrooms available to renters, as well as the exact address and any amenities, like pool or laundry room access (make sure to iron that out with your landlord prior to offering amenities up to strangers).

Be sure to select any amenities that apply from the list provided, so that your listing will be shown to more people. But be totally honest and accurate because a renter can cancel if they find out that an Airbnb apartment isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, or demand money back if that’s the case when they show up.

Don’t forget to list other important information for potential guests to review, like local attractions in and surrounding the city, parking information, whether or not the host will provide common items like toilet paper and more. Providing (and delivering on) all of these details, for example, will encourage tenants to leave positive reviews, which will result in more bookings.

4. Name your listing

Although they shouldn’t, people really do judge a book by its cover. So, name your Airbnb apartment listing with memorable, fun adjectives that speak to the spirit of the place and the area. This is also where you’ll insert an image of yourself looking like a welcoming host.

5. Paint a picture

Everyone wants to physically see images of the actual property, so at this time, you’ll add high-quality (at least 1024 x 683px) photos of all relevant rooms. Try to make them as clean and attractive as possible, especially the first three because they’ll dominate your Airbnb apartment listing.

You’ll also include a short description of the place (first-floor unit, pool-adjacent, walking distance to nightlife, that sort of thing), to give renters a better idea of what to expect. This is also the time to designate whether you’ll be on-site and available, and if so, how often and what they can expect from you.

6. Choose booking settings

Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of booking. Airbnb has standard guest requirements, but at this point, you can add any extras that you and your landlord decided on. This includes house rules, identification requirements and so on. At this point, you can also denote other bits of info about the property, such as whether an elevator or on-site parking is available.

calendar for landlord to figure out when guests arrive and leave the short term space

7. Create your calendar

Just because you’re renting out your apartment on Airbnb doesn’t mean that you have to offer it up all the time. You can opt for select dates, block off periods when relatives come to visit or leave the calendar wide open — whatever works best for you.

Just be sure to stay on top of this because you don’t want to alienate a client because you forgot about Aunt Edna’s visit. This is also when you specify how far ahead a potential guest can book and minimum/maximum night stays.

8. Pick your pricing

You can set your own price points, or take advantage of the Airbnb pricing tool. This handy function updates prices as supply and demand fluctuate for similar rentals in your area. They’ll also adjust based on other factors as needed, like tourism upticks and big holidays in your area.

You’ll set your own base price regardless, so make sure it’s in line with similar properties nearby. Also, you’ll be asked to choose a currency in which your guests will pay, as well as minimum/maximum nightly prices.

There are a bunch of other ways to customize the pricing feature, including discounts or packages for longer rentals. Don’t forget that you’ll also be paying taxes, cleaning fees and utilities for the property, so include those costs in the overall rate you’re offering.

9. Press publish

Once you’re happy with the Airbnb apartment listing and are sure that it’s an accurate representation of the property, it’s time to invite the world (or maybe just a few people) in!

Moving forward, make sure to clearly communicate fees, expectations and rules to renters, and keep an open dialogue with your landlord to make sure everything is satisfactory on that end, as well.

Happy renting!

Once your listing is complete, before you know it, you’ll be earning extra cash and on your way to becoming a Superhost. While that might not be as cool as becoming Superman, it’s still pretty neat.

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