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Hosting an Airbnb When You Rent

Last Updated: October 24, 2023

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  • Many states allow tenants to rent property on third-party platforms like Airbnb, but local laws and regulations vary.
  • Short-term rentals differ from private sublets, and tenants should choose the model that suits their needs.
  • Tenants can get approval from their landlord to host a short-term rental by having an open discussion about challenges and benefits.

Whether you call it home-sharing, vacation renting, or “Airbnb-ing,” the short-term rental market has never been bigger. Hosting on platforms such as Airbnb, 9flats, and Vrbo can be an easy source of income for some people, and if you’re leaving for vacation or have extra room to spare, it can be tempting to put that space to use.
Short-term rentals allow for a lot of flexibility, where hosts can set the property’s availability and rental periods themselves. This makes short-term rentals beneficial for tenants looking to supplement their income without committing to a longer-term rental situation.
Learn how to host an Airbnb as a renter and what steps you must take to ensure you do it legally and responsibly.

Can I host an Airbnb if I rent?

Yes, in most places, you can rent out a property on Airbnb as a tenant.
However, it’s important to research local laws before becoming a host. Some municipalities, such as Charleston, SC, have regulations stating that only owners can host short-term rentals. In these jurisdictions, tenants can’t lease out rented property on Airbnb.
Even if the local regulations allow tenants to host Airbnbs, rental leases can impact short-term rentals. You will need to confirm with your current lease agreement if your landlord has prohibited or limited short-term rentals on the property.

What’s the difference between a short-term rental and a private sublet?

Hosting an Airbnb as a renter is similar to subleasing, where you remain a tenant while assuming landlord-like responsibilities. The main difference is that short-term rentals through third-party platforms come with additional hosting responsibilities.
Guests will rate their stay with you according to their experiences, and you’ll need to perform well to become a popular host. However, the platform can also help and support you with any issues.
Knowing the differences between the rental options can help you choose which arrangement suits you better. The table below compares some aspects of renting out as a private sublet against renting out as a third-party short-term rental.
Private sublet Third-party short-term rental (Airbnb)

Sublandlord: The person renting out, sometimes also known as the master tenant.

Subtenant: The person renting the property.

Host: The person renting out the property.

Guest: The person staying in the property.

Rental term Typically longer term, often several months to years. Often shorter term, anywhere from one night to several weeks and sometimes months.
Income Fixed monthly rate, providing a consistent and predictable income. Income depends on season and popularity, which could yield higher results during peak seasons. However, the revenue is more unpredictable.
Legal considerations Getting approval from the primary landlord is recommended and often necessary. Lease agreements and local laws could impact subleases. Getting approval from the primary landlord is recommended and often necessary. Lease agreements and local laws could impact or even prohibit short-term rentals.
Protection and support Sublandlords and subtenants must get their own insurance for liabilities and damages. Sublandlords must vet their guests and solve disputes by personal or legal measures. Airbnb offers AirCover, a specific insurance for hosts. The platform can also help with vetting guests and solving disputes.
Relationship Subtenants often stay for several months, giving a better chance to form a good relationship with a high level of trust. In many cases, the sublandlord shares the property with the subtenant. Guests often stay for short bursts, and interactions between guests and hosts are limited.
Responsibilities A sublandlord has responsibilities as both a landlord and a tenant. They will need to ensure that rent is paid on time, that no property is damaged, and that the property meets building standards. Hosting is a hands-on role, and hosts will have responsibilities to maintain the property before, during, and after guest stays. This could include cleaning, providing bed linens and towels, and being available for requests or issues.
Rental agreement A Sublease Agreement is best practice to prevent misunderstandings over payment details, maintenance duties, and liability for damages.

A rental agreement is generally not necessary. Guests are required to follow Airbnb’s ground rules, and hosts can add additional house rules to their listings.

Hosts can require that guests sign a rental agreement before the stay.

A traditional private sublet offers a more secure source of income, while a short-term rental is better for flexibility of rental periods. Short-term rental platforms often help vet guests and offer support in case of accidents or disputes, but a longer-term private sublet gives you a better opportunity to form a good and trusting relationship with your subtenant. Traditional sublets are also less regulated, and you will have fewer responsibilities for your guests.

Read our article To Sublease or Not to Sublease for more information on subleasing.

How can I rent out my place while I’m a tenant?

Depending on local regulations, hosting a short-term rental as a renter can be a process. You’ll need to get permission from your landlord, apply for licensing, and pay fees and taxes to your local government.
We’ll explain everything you need to know about getting started with a short-term rental business, including:
  1. Landlord permission
  2. Local regulations
  3. Short-term rental agreements
  4. Additional tenant’s insurance

Getting permission from your landlord

Like with any sublease arrangement, asking for approval from your landlord is a good idea.
Your lease might state if you’re allowed to sublet and any conditions you need to meet. But even if your lease explicitly allows for subletting or short-term rentals, it’s polite to inform your landlord that you’re looking to host an Airbnb on the property.
Without landlord approval, you could risk eviction, fines, legal action, or causing discontent between yourself, your landlord, and other tenants. To avoid legal consequences, ask your landlord to sign a sublease consent form. This way, you have a binding agreement and proof of their approval.

Reasons why your landlord might not approve a short-term rental

Understanding your landlord’s point of view will help you prepare for a discussion, and you might even be able to change their mind.
Some things that might cause your landlord’s hesitancy are:
  • Your landlord is unfamiliar with short-term rentals. They might not have stayed with or heard of Airbnb.
  • Your landlord has heard stories about short-term guests treating properties with little respect.
  • The naturally high turnover rate of short-term rentals means a higher risk of property damage.
  • Your landlord won’t be able to personally vet the guests, meaning they can’t verify if the people staying at their property are responsible tenants.
  • The guests won’t be signing a lease contract directly with your landlord, giving your landlord less control over the terms of their stay.
  • Short-term rental guests are less invested in the property, increasing the risk of them being less considerate of neighbors or other tenants.

Reasons for your landlord to approve a short-term rental

Your landlord has some understandable concerns. By discussing the perks of short-term rentals, you can show your landlord how the arrangement would benefit you both.
You can use the following talking points to get approval for a short-term rental or private sublet with your landlord:
  • A short-term rental will let you earn additional income and make rent payments more easily. This means you can sustainably maintain your tenancy for longer.
  • You’ll be vetting tenants before their stay. Your landlord can be part of the vetting process or have the final say in who gets approved.
  • You’ll have additional property and liability insurance in case of damages or accidents.
  • You’ll ask guests to sign a rental agreement, and you can even offer that your landlord read through and approve the agreement.
  • Your landlord can set a limit on the amount of time you can rent out the property.
  • Assure your landlord you’ll supervise the property whether you’re present or at a distance.
If your landlord is on the fence after a thorough conversation, you still have some final options to get them to see your side. While these talking points are not ideal, they can be helpful for negotiations. You can:
  • Offer to split a percentage of the rental income with them. For instance, offering 20% of the rental income may make financial sense if you anticipate earning a significant amount from the property.
  • Offer to increase your rent payments. This could be better than offering a percentage because you will have a set amount to pay rather than a flexible one.
  • Offer to pay part of your rent upfront or increase your security deposit. This could be a better option if you want to pay a lump sum instead of a percentage or increased rent. Increasing your security deposit also guarantees that you’ll get all the rental income. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to receive your deposit back at the end of your lease, after any deposit deductions.

    Any increase in security deposit is subject to local laws. Some states have an upper limit on how much of a security deposit a landlord can take.
While the property owner has the final say, some states have set a precedent where your landlord can’t deny your request to sublease on an unreasonable basis. That means your landlord must have a good and sound reason to refuse you.

Local regulations for short-term rentals

Many cities and municipalities have added bylaws and local regulations for short-term rentals. These local regulations often exist because home sharing can affect the existing housing and rental market. Some of the regulations also help ensure that housing standards are met.
Airbnb has published a set of regulation guidelines for general use. If you’re unsure of what regulations apply to your situation, you should contact a local authority.
Some of the things local municipalities can regulate are:
  • Duration: Some cities only allow a certain length for short-term rentals, often between 1 and 120 days.
  • Host: Some cities only allow the property owner to rent out short-term.
  • Residence status: Some cities only allow short-term rentals if you live on the property a certain percentage of the time or at the time of rental.
  • License: Some cities require that short-term rentals register or apply for a license and pay specific fees.
  • Zoning: In some cities, properties in certain zoning districts are not allowed to be short-term rentals.

Regulations for short-term rentals are part of an ongoing conversation in many cities, and the following information is subject to change. While LawDepot always aims to offer accurate and helpful information to our users, we recommend you seek out local authorities for exact details.

Below are some examples of local short-term rental regulations in a few different cities around the United States.

Example of short-term rental regulations in Los Angeles, CA

According to the Los Angeles home-sharing regulations, you need to meet the following conditions before you rent out your property short-term:

Example of short-term rental regulations in New York, NY

The New York Office of Special Enforcement has a set of regulations for short-term rentals, which include the following guidelines:
  • Short-term is defined as a period shorter than 30 days
  • You can only rent out part of a property, such as a room or a floor
  • The unit can’t be on the list of prohibited buildings
  • You have to stay in the same unit or apartment as your guests
  • You can’t have more than two paying guests at the same time
  • You have to register your short-term rental through the short-term rental registration portal
  • You have to pay an application fee

Example of short-term rental regulations in Miami Beach, FL

In Miami Beach, all short-term rentals need to follow these regulations:

Remember that income from short-term rentals could be taxable, depending on your personal use of the property. You might also be able to deduct some business expenses. Seek guidance from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for details.

Short-term rental agreements

According to the Airbnb guidelines, you can request guests sign a rental agreement before renting. The rental agreement would detail the terms of the guests’ stay, similar to a sublease contract. However, you have to make the guests aware of this requirement and let them know what the agreement contains before the guests book their stay.
Rental agreements help ensure boundaries with guests and prevent misunderstandings over payment details, cleaning duties, and house rules. An agreement can also help calm your landlord's fears about short-term rentals, as the rental agreement can’t go against anything stated in the original lease contract.
The terms that are often included in short-term rental agreements are:
  • The renting period
  • Which part of the premises is being rented
  • The cost of the rental
  • House rules or guest limitations
  • Any cleaning duties or other obligations
Sublease contracts cover additional things like renters’ insurance and move-in/move-out inspections, but these are not necessary terms for a short-term rental agreement. Note that Airbnb won’t enforce the rental agreement for you since it’s only signed between you and your guests, and you should not request security deposits from your guests, as any damage claims will go through Airbnb.

Additional tenant insurance

As the host, you are partially liable for any accidents on the rental property. Getting additional renters and liability insurance is a good idea, so you can know you’re prepared for any mishaps. While Airbnb has its own insurance coverage for both hosts and guests, additional coverage can help convince your landlord to accept a short-term rental on their property.

Get ready to host

You now know how to get permission from your landlord, apply for local licensing, purchase insurance, and have a rental agreement ready to go. With all this information, you’re ready to get hosting.
Remember that when hosting short-term rentals, the way to success is to give your guests the best possible experience. Your space should be welcoming and aesthetically pleasing so people can feel at home. In fact, many Airbnb hosts remodel their properties to fit a particular look and feel. In 2023, the most popular Airbnb rentals were cozy caves and tiny homes.
As a tenant, you most likely can’t remodel freely. However, you might be able to get permission from your landlord if you’re looking to refresh the property. Use a Lease Amendment to get approval from your landlord to make changes or upgrades. Get creative and create a space you would like to vacation in.
Once you get your first bookings, check Airbnb’s resource pages for responsible hosting. They also offer a starting guide with tips and tricks on how to begin building your income through short-term rentals.
Good hosting!