The realities of hosting your Apartment on Airbnb in San Francisco.

Posted by Bob Walsh
Bob Walsh

So you click on this ad and the number jumps out at you: you could cover your entire monthly rent by hosting your San Francisco apartment on Airbnb. Given how much time you spend at say your girlfriend's/boyfriends/parents'/work travel, you'd hardly be inconvenienced - and those thousands of dollars each month would come in handy.

Unfortunately, there's one big gotcha you're going to have to surmount before you can Host: getting your landlord's permission to sublet your apartment.

In the Good Old Days - prior to April 2017 - you could just list your apartment in San Francisco and hope your landlord didn't find out. The Good Old Days came to an abrupt end when the City of San Francisco enacted steep fees and criminal penalties for Airbnb and other companies who listed Hosts who weren't registered, Airbnb sued to block the ordinance and a US district court told both parties to work out a process that ensures Airbnb hosts are registered.

And since Airbnb bakes into the process of creating an Airbnb listing in San Francisco applying for the City's required permits and that permitting process automatically sends your landlord a letter, informing them that you are applying to be a host, you are going to need to plan from the start to get your landlord's approval.

We'll come back to what you have to do for City before you can Airbnb, but let's deal first with the real obstacle in this process: getting your landlord's approval.

Getting your landlord to agree

As with asking for a raise, there's a smart way and a wrong way to ask your landlord for their ok to let you Airbnb Host.

Doing it the wrong way:

  • Don't do it in writing, ask them when he seems in a good mood.
  • Don't explain to them about how Airbnb's $1,000,000 Host Guarantee and $1,000,000 Host Protection Policy cover his interests too.
  • Don't give them or her a financial incentive to let you Host.
  • Don't offer them money in a way that makes it easy for them to accept.

If you do offer to pay them, make that payment part of your rent.

So what's wrong with this approach? Everything.

You need a written agreement, an addendum to your lease or rental agreement granting you the right to do short-term occupancy rentals.

There's a lot of things your landlord is going to want spelled out in this addendum. Airbnb's two protection plans mean your landlord is covered too in the event a guest goes wild and trashes your apartment and your landlord's property.

Airbnb's second guarantee, the Host Protection policy provides you and your landlord with up to a million dollars of property liability insurance as part of your listing - and that Host Protection Policy by the way satisfies one of the City of San Francisco's permit requirements.

People are in business to make money. Which approach - offering to pay your landlord or asking them to let you host out of the goodness of their heart - is more likely to meet with favor from your landlord? Offering to let them raise the rent in exchange for their Airbnb permission is a terrible idea - for you. That rent increase is never going to go away, applies to months you don't have Airbnb guests and leaves your landlord even if they agree more than a little suspicious of you from that point on: did they charge you enough. Offering a percentage of what you actually make when you actually make, is the smarter way to go.

If you take the Wrong Way approach, your odds of getting what you want - their written permission in an addendum to your lease or rental agreement - are slim to none.

Fortunately, there's a Right Way to getting your landlord to agree. A way that will get you what you want and need with a lot less stress and much better odds.

The Right Way to getting your landlord's approval to Airbnb

There's a startup that can help you with this problem. It's called Letulet. What LetuLet will do is negotiate with your landlord for you, making them an offer including a financial incentive, and make that incentive a percentage of what you actually make Hosting. And, Letulet helps answer other common landlord objections to renters hosting by providing a mechanism for spelling out House Rules that you can require your Guests to agree to.

Now your landlord has a very good reason for saying yes, a professionally written agreement they can sign digitally, and a super-easy way to get the share you and your landlord agree to — it's automatically withdrawn from your bank account and deposited to their's, take from what you actually make from Airbnb.

What's more, as part of Letulet's ongoing service, they offer your landlord an online dashboard where they can see how much you and other tenants are making money for them.

Unlocking your future as an Airbnb Host

Successfully Airbnb hosting your apartment in San Francisco and elsewhere in 2019 means first and foremost getting your landlord's permission. And, you want to ask for that permission in a businesslike way, with a reasonable financial inducement, a professional agreement that covers all the bases, and fair and transparent mechanism to getting your landlord their agreed share.

Letulet helps you negotiate a rental agreement addendum, define the House Rules you'll be providing Guests and ensures your landlord gets their percentage from what you actually make. It's the smart way of kicking off your Airbnb Hosting Career.

Topics: Renter


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