If you are currently renting and were thinking of hosting on Airbnb, I’m sure that the first question to have crossed your mind was, “How do I break this to my landlord and how can I get permission to list he property on Airbnb?”
As much as you are trying to craft your own dream of being a host, the fact of the matter is that you do not own your property. In legal terms, what you will be doing is essentially asking for permission to sublease the property or parts of the property.
The Correct Approach To Get Your Landlord’s Approval
First of all, assuming that your landlord would not care or mind is a terrible idea and can land you in legal hot water. Eviction, fines and law suits are only three of several potential consequences of trying to fly under your landlord’s radar.
Be prepared and be upfront. Who knows, your landlord might actually be open to the idea of you becoming an Airbnb host. But, if you try to bypass this act of decency you can destroy any goodwill or understanding that they may have had.
The goal is to get landlord approval before you start hosting and not after. Doing so will increase your chances of getting permission, and get you on your way to being a host. Here’s how you can get there!
Put yourself in their shoes
How can you possibly convince your landlord to rent out their property on Airbnb if you do not know where they are coming from? It would greatly improve your odds of getting an approval if you look at things from their perspective and understand your landlord’s concerns They want to protect and make money from their property as much as you do, so keep that in mind!
From their point of view, landlords see their properties as low risk no matter how great or how modest of an income it generates. Odds are that they have spent a considerable amount of resources in procuring, renovating and marketing it. They do this to bring a stable income at low risk. Even if they lose a tenant or incur some damage on their property, they can always get new tenants and insurance usually covers the cost of repair. The risk remains low.
In their minds, there is a real potential that your Airbnb dream will increase that risk substantially. This upsets the risk to income ratio and it will be your job to prevent them from going down this line of thinking.
Why would landlords see it as high risk?
For a landlord, the mention of hosting Airbnb guests may put in their minds all sorts of ideas. Some of these ideas may just be hysterics while others are legitimate concerns:
- Since they can’t screen the guests themselves, landlords may believe that bad tenants can be staying in their property. This is not totally without merit. News sources are very willing to cover extremely rare Airbnb horror stories. Just Google “Airbnb orgy” and hold on to your seat.
- Depending on the city you live in, short-term leases can be illegal and carry heavy fines with them. Also, there are a growing number of municipalities that specifically target Airbnb hosting practices and are writing new laws to deal with or tax them. Many landlords just don’t want the hassle and shy away from this type of renting.
- Paying and worrying about insurance has never been pleasant for anyone, and landlords are no different. They are required by law to purchase homeowner’s insurance that covers anything that could go wrong with their building, and that includes your budding Airbnb listing.
That final point is where things get complicated. Homeowner’s insurance covers – you guessed it – homes. An Airbnb property, however, is not a home. It is a business and will not be covered under a homeowner’s insurance policy. To make matters worse, the insurance company could completely terminate the insurance policy for the entire building, which would then cause the whole of the property to be deemed illegal.
In the eyes of the landlord they are taking on all the risk but without any profit. A simple cost-benefit analysis would show that, at first glance, this is a bad deal for them. But, what if you are able to include them in the dialogue? See what you can do to decrease their risk and introduce some benefits.
Think before you speak
With their viewpoints in mind, you are now well on your way to broach the topic and get the landlord’s permission to list on Airbnb. If you want their approval, you’re going have to update their perception of the risk-reward scenario.
Put on your strategist cap and keep in mind what you are able to bring to the table:
- Have you been a long term tenant and in good standing? If the answer is yes to both, your reputation is in a good light and you look more trustworthy.
- How familiar is your landlord with Airbnb? A bit of education may be needed, but a landlord knowledgeable about the workings of Airbnb will make things much easier.
- How many other properties does the landlord rent out? The less they rent out the better, as it makes you renting out your property on Airbnb more attractive. If they own a lot of properties there is no incentive for them to share profits with you, as they might as well do it themselves.
- What is the rental market like? A bad rental market will favor your case, as the landlord is seeking to make money in any way possible.
- Are there any other parties involved? Roommates, rent control and homeowner’s associations complicate the matter.
Getting a landlord’s approval for Airbnb may mean that you concede a bit of a compromise, but as long as you are in a strong position to do so, then that yes would not be too far away.
If you are in a weak position, then a bit of creativity and a lot of compromise may be needed to get approval.
What can you do for your landlord?
– offer to extend your lease
– offer to increase your rent or cut them in on the profits of your Airbnb
– offer to pre-pay rent
Downplay the risk:
– walk them through Airbnb’s one million dollar insurance guarantee
– offer to pay for your own vacation rental insurance
– offer to give them a say on who rents and when
– reassure them that you are only renting private rooms (no couchsurfing) and that you will be present throughout the duration of their stay
– (This is a big one!) offer to amend the rental contract to state that any damages to your unit will be your expense
– offer to increase your security deposit
Create a dialogue with your landlord and throw around some of these ideas. See which ones you can afford to concede and which ones your landlord gravitates towards. You don’t even have to concede all of these points but rather find which combination works best for your case.
Having the talk with your landlord
Depending on your current relationship with your landlord, introducing this idea usually takes shape in one of two forms.
If you have developed a good and casual rapport with your landlord then try a more direct approach. Focus on a having a conversation. Do not turn it into a sales pitch.
Keep it casual and simple. Many landlords may not understand the fine details of Airbnb or may not want to, so it may work against you if you start piling on information they don’t understand.
A good way to start this would be to simply ask if they’ve heard about or used Airbnb. This is a great way to gauge their knowledge of Airbnb. Once this bit of information has been established you can start filling in facts they do not know or dismiss false pretenses.
Make sure to bring up two critical points: that you are respectful and that you understand that what they are risking.
- Explain that you would like to explore this opportunity but respect them enough to ask for their permission and opinion.
– discuss your reasons and the benefits
– be honest with how it will impact your life and what you wish to gain from this
- Show your landlord that you have thought this out, not only how it impacts you but how it can also impact them. Go over the risks but also go over the potential benefits for them.
If you keep on getting shut down by your landlord, try engaging their legal counsel. 90% of the time landlords retain some sort of legal counsel to develop and sign off on contracts, insurance, etc.
You can either have your lawyer talk to theirs or contact their legal counsel directly. They are legally bound to represent their clients’ best interests. If they deem it legally and fiscally secure then they are more likely to approve of your hosting.
If you get their legal counsel to sign off on your intent to host then landlords will have a harder time to say “no”.
Do you have any experience in getting a landlord’s approval to host on Airbnb? Let us know in the comments!