Airbnb rentals are the latest trend in the accommodation market, offering a homier experience for a more competitive price than hotels. Many people also enjoy the authentic immersion into a city’s culture by residing among locals rather than with other tourists in a 5-star hotel or resort.

With Airbnb’s rise in popularity, many people have turned to hosting on Airbnb (renting out their residences) for extra income. If you’re a tenant and you’re thinking about becoming an Airbnb host, take a moment to consider some of the logistic and legal implications before diving in and listing your rental.

In this post, we’ll discuss how to get your landlord’s approval to list your property as well as some legal and contractual requirements relating to Airbnb rentals.

How to Get Your Landlord to Approve an Airbnb in Your Rental

According to Airbnb, many of their rentals are properties that are being leased by the hosts, so the rental agreement is similar to a typical subletting arrangement. In these cases, the host is the tenant on the lease and the guest booking the Airbnb is the subtenant.

Just like with a typical sublet arrangement, it’s a good idea for tenants to get permission from their landlord before listing their property as a potential Airbnb rental.

Hosting an Airbnb, similar to many other short-term rental agreements, can be risky for a landlord because they’ll be renting to someone they haven’t personally vetted. And with a higher turnover of renters moving in and out of an Airbnb, there can be a higher risk of property damage. Airbnb is not immune to troublesome renters causing disturbances and damage.

With those potential pain-points in mind, you can understand why some landlords are a little apprehensive when it comes to allowing their tenants to turn their property into an Airbnb. If you have your heart set on using your rental as an Airbnb, the best course of action is to have a thoughtful discussion with your landlord. But keep in mind, the final call is up to the person who owns the property.

If your landlord says no to you listing your rental on Airbnb, it’s not recommended that you do it behind your landlord’s back. If you’re required to get permission before subleasing and your landlord catches you doing it without their go-ahead, you could face eviction for violating your Lease Agreement.

A Legal Implication for Hosting an Airbnb Rental

Something you should keep in mind is that many municipalities have strict regulations on short-term rentals, and in some cities, short-term rentals altogether are illegal.

For instance, the city of San Francisco has imposed some of the strictest regulations to discourage people from hosting on Airbnb because of the decrease in vacancies and skyrocketing rent prices. In San Francisco, only full-time residents can host an Airbnb; a full-time resident, in this case, refers to someone who is renting out the home they also live in. The duration of the rental is also capped at 90 days, and all hosts must register with the city.

Before using your property as an Airbnb, you should check the regulations on short-term rentals in your municipality. The last thing you want is to get caught by authorities and fined.

Can Hosts Make Guests Sign a Rental Contract?

According to the Airbnb FAQ, hosts can require that guests sign a rental contract before allowing them to stay in the property. However, the hosts are required to inform guests prior to booking that they will have to sign a contract. The hosts are expected to disclose the terms of their agreement directly in their listing on the Airbnb website.

Airbnb also notes that they can’t help enforce any of the terms in your contract as the terms will only be binding on the hosts(s) and the guest(s).

If you are considering using a contract to set up some terms for your property, you might want to look at a Sublease Agreement to get an idea of the typical terms in a short-term rental.

Sublet terms usually address:

  • The sublease period (start and end date)
  • Which part of the premises is being sublet (a room, an apartment, one floor of a house, a whole house, etc.)
  • The cost of the rental

Things like renters’ insurance and move-in/move-out inspections are also addressed in sublease agreements, but they are not common in an Airbnb rental. Hosts have the option to add security deposits, but it should be noted that security deposits and damage claims are matters dealt with by Airbnb rather than between guests and hosts.

Preparing to Host on Airbnb

Being an Airbnb host requires some thought and planning; it’s not a situation where you should just hit the ground running.

Discuss how subletting or short-term rentals work with your landlord, do some research into your city’s regulations on short-term rentals, and (if all goes well) think about using a sublease contract with the guests you host in your rental.

Posted by Spencer Knight

Spencer Knight is a writer in Edmonton, Alberta. His nonfiction has appeared in Spinal Columns, The Bolo Tie Collective Anthology: Volume I, and filling Station. When he's not writing, he's sleeping.