Airbnb: 3 Pros and 4 Cons for Multifamily

As a property manager, should you allow residents to participate in Airbnb or use the service yourself for vacant units?

By Jessica Fiur, Managing Editor

jfiur thumbnailHave you used Airbnb yet, either as a vacationer or a person renting out your home? According to the site, there have already been 60 million users, so chances are you have. I mean, I haven’t, because I like getting my towels cleaned every day and stealing hotel-branded pens, and also I think I would get creeped out when surrounded by some stranger’s family pictures while I’m trying to go to sleep, but, what can I say, I’ve always been a rebel.

And it’s not just single-family homes that are being rented out. Now multifamily is slowly, tentatively exploring the possibility of maybe getting in on the Airbnb action, as MHN recently reported.

As a property manager, should you allow residents to participate in Airbnb or use the service yourself for vacant units? Lets look at some pros and cons.

Con: There might be security issues. The people coming in and out of your community through Airbnb won’t necessarily have the same checks you give your potential residents. In fact, you’ll probably know nothing about them. You don’t know who they’re inviting to visit them either. This could lead to some safety concerns.

Pro: It’s an appealing perk for residents. If your community allows for Airbnb rentals, if a resident wants to go on a long vacation or if they need to break their lease a little early, it could be an option for these residents. Then they wouldn’t have to worry about paying their lease for a month they weren’t there, or losing a security deposit. Which would definitely lead to good word of mouth about your community. It could even be marketed as an “amenity” at your community.

Con: Speaking of amenities, Airbnb-ers might hog the actual amenities. People who are renting the apartments for a vacation are probably going to end up using the community pool. Maybe the gym. Definitely the fresh-baked cookies in the leasing office. Which could end up annoying your regular residents.

Pro: You can cash in on the trend. Have a unit that’s been vacant for awhile? If you can’t rent it for a year, how about getting someone from Airbnb paying rent for a month or two. Even if they’re only staying for a week, it’s money coming in, which is way better than no money coming in when it’s vacant.airbnb

Con: You’ll have to remember your ABCs: Always be cleaning. If there is frequent turnover of vacationers and visitors, you’ll constantly have to monitor your apartments and then clean them. Even if your renter is still there, there will probably be more maintenance calls. That could end up being more time and money for your team. This…probably isn’t a huge deal. But, still, something to consider.

Pro: You can’t fight City Hall. So you might as well have a say. Eventually, a resident is going to list his apartments on the home-sharing site. It’s definitely going to happen, whether you want it to or not. If you embrace this, and have documented procedures in place for this so you can regulate how and when it happens.

Con: It might not be legal. According to The New York Times, in cities such as New York and San Francisco, it’s illegal to rent out an “apartment for fewer than 30 days.” So before you get involved with Airbnb, check out your local laws. Because it’s not like you can list your jail cell on the site. (Sigh, that joke should also be illegal. In this state, anyway.)

What do you think about Airbnb? Is it where all multifamily is headed, or do you think property managers will continue to be leery about it? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Post your comments on our Facebook page or send a tweet to @MHNOnline.