Can I Airbnb My Apartment?

By Arin E. Berkson, J.D. on October 07, 2015 | Last updated on March 07, 2023

You want to rent your apartment on Airbnb or Vrbo to bring in extra money. Can you do it? That depends. Your lease and local laws are among the things to consider when deciding if operating a short-term rental out of your apartment is right for you.

Review Your Lease Agreement

The first thing to do if you are considering becoming an Airbnb host is to review your rental agreement. For instance, you will want to find out if your lease terms specifically prohibit Airbnb rentals or other similar arrangements like subletting. Many leases contain language about the number of nights that renters can have guests in their apartments. Take these rules seriously; violating the terms of your lease could lead to eviction or the loss of your security deposit.

However, even if you find that your lease does not appear to prohibit subleases or short-term rentals, that does not mean you are free and clear to go ahead and Airbnb your spare room. The lack of prohibitions in your lease is only part of what you need to consider.

Talk to the Property Manager

After reviewing your lease agreement, talking to the apartment building’s property manager about your interest in renting your apartment on Airbnb is part of responsible hosting.

Even if your rental agreement is Airbnb friendly, landlords may have the right to determine house rules and what information about the apartment building you can share with potential guests in your Airbnb listing. You will also want to find out if your apartment building’s property owners expect you to share part of the rental income with them.

Review Local Laws

You should become familiar with local zoning and rental laws even if your lease allows for short-term rentals and your apartment building’s property manager is on board with you becoming an Airbnb host. For instance, you will want to know if your municipality requires Airbnb hosts to obtain a license to rent out their property.

You may want to start your research by reading posts about legal and regulatory information on the Airbnb website. To learn about local laws that apply to your situation, search the web for your locality's name and terms such as "vacation rental rules" or “short-term rental rules.”

If you decide to move forward with your plans to rent on Airbnb, plan to review the local laws often since major cities and other popular vacation destinations are putting new rules in place. For example, Los Angeles has enacted short-term rental laws that require hosts to live in their rental property for more than six months out of the year. Similarly, New York City recently enacted regulations that require short-term rental hosts to submit proof that they are permanent occupants of the rental property. New York’s law also imposes penalties of up to $5,000 for unregistered short-term rentals.

Consider Your Neighbors

How will turning your apartment or spare room into an Airbnb rental impact others who live nearby? Based on your experience with your neighbors, make a judgment about how to discuss your apartment rental situation. Letting them know of your plans in advance will help avoid feelings of imposition.

Many of the short-term rental-gone-bad tales arise from situations where neighbors complained about excessive noise or their own safety. So keep your neighbors in mind when drafting house rules and check reviews for complaints when deciding which Airbnb guests to rent to. Also, make sure to let your neighbors know that you take their concerns about your vacation rental seriously. As with many situations in life, communication can be the key to a successful Airbnb experience.

Troubleshooting Specific Rental Issues

Operating an Airbnb in a rental property can be complicated. If you are having trouble deciding whether being a short-term rental host is the right option for you, speak to an experienced real estate attorney who can give you personalized advice.

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