[Can You Airbnb a Condo?] Hosts Should Be Careful of the HOA!

If you’re in need of some extra cash, you may have considered trying to Airbnb your condo. Well, you’re not the only one. In fact, short-term rental properties have become quite the rage and can be an easy way to bring in good money. But there are some serious pitfalls to look out for…


So Can You Airbnb a Condo?

Yes! First, check with your homeowners association and local government/planning and zoning for laws regarding short-term rentals.

Next, remove personal items, spruce up the place, and take engaging, well-lit pictures of your condo. In your listing, provide detailed rules that coincide with your management office. Finally, find an affordable renter’s insurance policy.

But there’s more to it than that. Read below as we go into more detail on each one of these items.

Is It Even Allowed To Turn My Condo Into An Airbnb?  

Two important factors to check…

Check Your City’s Laws

Before you sign-up with Airbnb to host your condo, you’ll need to check into your city’s laws concerning short-term rentals. Believe it or not, some cities or municipalities have banned condos as short-term rentals.

However, in many cases, cities welcome short-term rentals (or welcome them with a few guidelines to follow). It is important to see where your city or county stands on this issue before you take the next step.

Contact your local city or government to keep yourself informed of these laws.

Check Your Condominium’s Rules

Many developments or condominiums have stipulations regarding what you can and cannot do with your condo. Even though you own your condo, you may still be subject to these rules.

More than likely, your lease agreement, homeowners association (HOA) rules or co-op rules for tenants will clarify this issue. If not, see the management office for clarification.  

A note of caution: Even if your HOA agrees today, they might not agree tomorrow. In fact, HOAs have the right to change their rules down the road. If you don’t own your condo (but rather you pay monthly rent or pay for a timeshare), renting it as an Airbnb becomes an even tougher issue.

Please note, we here at Rentalrecon.com are not lawyers. As always, if you have questions or concerns about any legal issues or processes, please consult a lawyer licensed in your city, county, or state ordinances.

Remove Your Personal Belongings and Private Items

The last thing you want is for your treasured vase to get broken or for your favorite blanket to get stained. Plus, removing your personal belongings makes your place appear more put-together and allows your guests to feel that they’re not infringing on your personal space. So the pictures of your family reunion should probably come off the fridge.

Spruce Up and Take Quality Pictures

Engaging and welcoming pictures are the gateway to a booked Airbnb calendar.  In order to draw guests to your listing, remove clutter and move furniture around to create maximum space. Strategically place bright punches of color (a red vase, a bright blue piece of artwork, a colorful pillow or blanket) throughout your home.

Take pictures in the middle of the day with all of the lights on- this creates a bright and welcoming look.  If your guest’s first impression of your condo is dark and dingy rooms, you are much less likely to secure a booking.

Providing Guest Entry To Building

Some HOAs will allow you to hang a lock-box on your doorknob so that guests can simply type in a code to get a key. Some condominiums have building access card key systems for the main entry doors, so you may need additional card keys for guest access.

In other cases, you may need to provide your guest with a key through the front office.  Call your condo’s management office to coordinate keys and logistics for guests.

If that doesn’t work, you may try a service like KeyCafe. Upon booking, the guest receives a KeyCafe access code. Guests then go to a local coffee shop or other business that has a multi-key KeyCafe lockbox mounted inside the establishment. Enter the code, and the guest gets access to keys.

This type of service works well for apartments or condos in urban areas or locations where lockboxes outside don’t make sense.

Condominium Amenities

Your condo may have shared use of a pool, a tennis court, a community center, a gym, or other recreational offerings. Be sure to check with your HOA to make sure your guests are allowed access to them and then provide your guests with a pass, code, bracelet, or whatever else they may need to use these amenities.

Also, provide your guests with a small instructional book or binder so that they know how to make use of these amenities. This is also a good time to review the HOA rules regarding common-use areas.

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Include Clear and Detailed Rules For Your Listing

When guests book your condo through Airbnb, they automatically agree to the rules and guidelines that you’ve included in your listing. This can include rules about expected behavior, noise, pool/community area usage, pets, and smoking.

Since the guest agrees to the house rules that you specify in your listing when they book, make sure to have detailed and clear house rules that cover all HOA items.  

Provide consequences for the guest who violates these rules. For example, if pets aren’t allowed, state this clearly and explain that violation of this rule could result in the guest’s removal from the property without a refund.

Similarly, your guest should be warned that smoking in your condo could result in extra fees (even though Airbnb does not enforce this rule, it could still deter your guest from smoking). Be sure to cover yourself if your guest breaks the rules by creating clear boundaries and consequences for your guests.

Parking at Your Condominium

Some condos have parking right on the premises either with or without parking passes. If your guest needs to have a pass to park, leave one or two on the kitchen counter.

If there is no off-street parking, be sure to clarify this in your listing and give your guests pointers about where to park so that guests who have their own vehicle know what to expect.

The Competition

Check to see if any other condos in your building are being rented through Airbnb to choose a competitive price.  Choose a nightly price at the upper end of the competition price range.

That way, once the “low hanging fruit” is booked up, you can charge more and maintain less turnover per month. The benefit is less wear-and-tear on your condo since fewer people are staying there.

Research Your Short-Term Rental Insurance Options

Renting out your condo as a short-term rental is a business venture, and you’ll need insurance. Be careful though, as your standard homeowner’s insurance likely has a “business pursuits exclusion,” meaning that they will not cover damages if your condo is used as an Airbnb. You do have options, though. Check out our other article on insurance HERE. This content was originally written on rentalrecon.com.

How to Join Airbnb as a Host

  • Go to airbnb.com and click “Sign Up.” There are a couple of different ways you can create an account, including using your Facebook account, Google account, or simply by creating an account using your email address.
  • It’s free and you don’t have to publish (list) your condo until you’re completely ready, so don’t worry. Simply answer some basic questions about your condo:
  • After you’ve described your place, you’ll have the ability to add photos and describe your place in writing.  
  • Lastly, Airbnb will walk you through booking settings, your calendar, and your pricing options.  After this step, you’ll be ready to list your condo!

What if I don’t own my condo?  Can I still rent it out as a short term rental?

In many cases, renting out a condo that you don’t own would be in violation of your lease of homeowners association (HOA) rules. In addition, your landlord takes a huge risk in allowing you to rent out the space, which could lead to your eviction if things went awry (and no one wants that!).

Resist the urge to keep your landlord in the dark about this issue. Honesty is always the best approach! You may even have a shot at convincing your landlord to allow you to host (provided that hosting a condo is legal in your area).  Try to see things from your landlord’s perspective before you attempt a conversation with him/her:

  • If you have a long-term lease (6 months or more), renting to you is low-risk. However, if you host a condo on Airbnb, that means that strangers (who will come and go and may not respect their surroundings) will be inhabiting your landlord’s condo. This is high-risk, and your landlord probably got into the business of renting to long-term tenants because they wanted to avoid high-risk business ventures. Understand that you would make all the money, but your landlord would assume all of the risks.  
  • Landlords, in many cases, are required by law to purchase renter’s insurance.  If there were any damages to the condo while it was being rented to vacationers, your landlord would assume that cost.
  • Bad guests do exist. Although Airbnb allows you to set parameters on guest age and behavior, you want to be prepared for any situation (damages, crime, neighbor disturbances).  If your landlord ends up having to deal with these issues, it could affect you and your long-term lease.

If you’ve considered the landlord’s perspective, but you still want to discuss the possibility of renting out your condo with him/her, just be honest and see what he/she thinks about the idea.

Open up a friendly dialogue, and offer incentives that would make your landlord consider a higher risk for a greater reward (a cut of the profit, an offer to increase your rent, or extend your lease).

Overall, honesty is the best policy. If you make sure you’re taking the high road in all of your dealings, you’re likely to have a longer and more stable renting experience.

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