Tips for Renting an Apartment in the Age of AirBNB

I recently went on a vacation and, for the first time ever, stayed exclusively in AirBnB properties over the course of a week. It was a new–and eye opening–experience. I had always considered AirBnB as being on the fringe, not something that normal vacationers (such as myself, naturally) would ever use.

But that’s changed. And this new era–the era of the AirBnB–has change some of the other rules as well. That’s why today we’re offering some tips for renting an apartment in the AirBnB age. Because it seems that, whether you’re renting a room for a day or a week, things have changed.

And they haven’t all changed for the better. Let’s take a look at what some of the new rules of the road are for renting in the age of the AirBnB.

What is AirBnB?

For those who don’t know, AirBnB is kind of like a hotel. Instead of renting out a room at a hotel, you’re renting out a room in someone’s home. Or, perhaps, you’re renting out someone’s personal condo while they’re not in it. There are many basic configurations your AirBnB can take. It’s usually very above-board and there are safeguards in place on the website.

That said, just as is the case with a hotel, no system is entirely foolproof. And you should take some safeguards of your own to ensure your safety as much as possible. There’s no shortage of safety tips on the web.

Now, you might be thinking: hey, if I’m renting out someone’s basement apartment (for example), am I a tenant? Am I renting an apartment or staying in a hotel? You aren’t the only one to have such a thought sneak up on them. And it’s a legitimate question.

How Does This Affect Renters?

The unfortunate truth is that the answer will depend largely on where you happen to be. In most cases, you’re more like a hotel or house guest than you are like a tenant. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t real consequences for actual tenants:

  • There’s some evidence to suggest that AirBnBs can raise rents in an area. If a landlord doesn’t find a tenant at a higher price, that landlord may simply rent out the space as an AirBnB rather than lowering the rent. Over time, this can lead to some serious rent inflation.
  • Sometimes, for renters, it can be difficult to find the right apartment. Rather than renting out their space to long-term tenants, some find AirBnB renters to be more profitable. That can seriously diminish the amount of available homes.
  • Rules aren’t always clear on who can rent and where. For example, subletting is usually expressly forbidden in many lease agreements (again, depending where you live). But that might not exclude the possibility of renting out your space as an AirBnB even if you’re a renter (do not take this as any kind of legal advice, please). In any case, the problem here is that this can cause quite a bit of confusion. Either way, you should consult with a real estate attorney if possible.

More and More People Are Renting

Renting an apartment is not something that’s going away any time soon. That’s one of the reasons that rents are so high. People aren’t purchasing homes the way they used to (especially younger people, who are understandably gun shy after the last financial crisis and the Great Recession).

If people aren’t buying then, well, they’re renting. Sometimes this is a choice, and sometimes it’s a reflection of a tighter (sometimes impossibly tight) credit market when it comes to securing financing for home mortgages.

In either case, the result is that more people are renting an ever shrinking number of homes. When you take a chunk of those homes and devote them, instead, to AirBnBs, you can see how this renting crisis would become exacerbated. There are no easy solutions. And there are plenty of reasons why AirBnBs would be a good thing (they’re certainly comfortable and they promote tourism).

AirBnBs are Popular

So we shouldn’t really expect AirBnBs to go anywhere. They’re incredibly popular. Which means that, for renters, it’s time to start figuring out ways around the AirBnB system rather than wishing it were somehow dismantled. It might not be the easiest thing, but right now that’s the reality. The AirBnB is definitely a double edged sword.

But it’s one that’s here to stay.

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