Ask The Apartment Experts: Why Can’t I Airbnb My Apartment?

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Why won’t my landlord let me Airbnb my apartment?

Ahhhhh….we were asked this question a bunch! So let’s get right into it. It’s a big holiday weekend in DC, and your apartment is in a prime location, you’ll be out of town, so you post your apartment on Airbnb already counting that $375/night income and the next thing you know, you have a “Notice to Quit” from your landlord posted on your door!   What just happened? Why does your owner care who is in your apartment? Well as it turns out, there are many reasons you can’t use Airbnb or any other short term rental site to do short term rentals of your apartment.

We’ll start with the boring legal reason. The business license for your apartment building literally reads “apartment houses-no short term rental.” That pretty much precludes Airbnb or VRBO or any other site.

Next, and this one doesn’t apply EVERY time, but very often, when you apply for an apartment, your credit and criminal history are screened. Those with violent criminal convictions are often declined residency. When you use one of the short term rental sites, you are bypassing that screening process. While you may be okay with that, it’s highly unfair to your neighbors who in all probability chose your building because of the screening.

Third, and I’m going to be really honest here, people on vacation act very different than people living their day-to-day lives. {come on, you know it’s true!} A great example is when a couple of girlfriends and I went to London and opted for a short term rental instead of a hotel. We were in a condo building with neighbors above, below and beside us. And while we tried very hard to be respectful, I cannot report that we were perfectly quiet when we returned home at 3 AM after a night out dancing. That’s how vacation is…and it doesn’t matter what the building rules are, your short term guests a) probably don’t know them and b) probably don’t care.

Fourth, your lease probably has a ‘no subletting ‘ clause. If it does, you cannot Airbnb. Period. The no subletting thing is a BIG deal to landlords here in DC.

The final reason doesn’t apply to everyone, but there is an affordable housing crisis across this country. Rental prices are on the rise and units at a good price are few and far between. If you are taking an affordable unit out of circulation for a family that needs a roof over their head, so that you can make some side money, you are contributing to the larger problem.

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