Long term rental with Airbnb: Should I worry about anything?
September 14, 2017 10:21 AM   Subscribe

I am interested in moving into a flat/apartment owned by a landlord who lives in another country and who wants to manage this arrangement via Airbnb. Is this a bad idea? How bad?

I've pretty much said it all. I've used Airbnb before for a few days but never long term. I always assumed it was for short term rentals. Can you think of any concerns I should have and questions I should ask the landlord before I even consider looking at the property? Are there additional fees or costs that Airbnb could charge? I should add that I am based in the U.K.

Thanks.
posted by ihaveyourfoot to Home & Garden (19 answers total)
 
I mean, if I was your landlord I would want to avoid the huge airbnb fees. If I were them I'd organize the rental and then just use venmo for the transfer of money. That's just me.

I don't think there's any concerns. Airbnb adds a good amount of protection for renter and rentee and outside of extra costs going SOMEWHERE it's fine.
posted by bbqturtle at 10:24 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


My biggest concern, if they're in another country and using Airbnb to manage the monetary end of things, is who do you call with maintenance requests? I know they're equipped to deal with short term, this listing isn't what was listed issues, but I don't know about the stuff that comes up with long term rentals - the fridge broke, pipe busted above me, pests, whatever.
posted by joycehealy at 10:25 AM on September 14 [5 favorites]


I would check around to see if the monthly rate is typical and in-line with what you'd pay if you went a more traditional route.

But more importantly, I would worry about the kinds of protections you'd be giving up by not signing a more standard lease. Evictions, cleaning, rodent/bug control, security deposits, guests, repairs, and who is responsible for them are all covered under a standard lease. By not signing a lease you might find yourself on the hook or liable for things you might otherwise not be. You might be more at the mercy of a landlord who can throw you out at a moment's notice or not give you adequate notice for raising your rent/fees. I would be very wary about getting into an agreement where these things are not very clearly spelled out.
posted by brookeb at 10:41 AM on September 14 [12 favorites]


If you make a reservation on AirBnB for longer than 28 days and then you want to cancel it, even if the host itself has a flexible cancellation policy, you'll be responsible for the first month of payment regardless. It's called their long-term cancellation policy.
posted by neematoad at 11:05 AM on September 14


Especially since the Equifax hack, I'm not sure I'm happy with the idea of my scanned photo and/or photo ID being stored on AirBNB's server. I realize that if you're a current customer, you may have done this already, but I'm not going to encourage it.
posted by amtho at 11:15 AM on September 14


Are you certain the landlord on AirBnB actually owns / manages the apartment? There are a lot of scammers out there. Definitely don't pay any money until you have the keys in your hand.
posted by Mchelly at 11:47 AM on September 14 [4 favorites]


Those scammers, though, were actually using fake lookalike sites for AirBnB, and this happens with rentals through other platforms as well, including craigslist and classified ads. Flaky, out-of-country/state landlords are also platform-independent (ask me how I know!).

In most places in the US, you gain most of the protections of tenancy by virtue of occupying the home - see all the "how do I evict my tenant's ex-boyfriend who was never even on the lease?!?" threads on AskMeFi and elsewhere on the internet. I don't know whether the same is true in the UK. If anything, it seems like AirBnB would give you more protection rather than less.

How long do you intend to stay? If you're looking at a 3 month (or a year) rental while the landlord is in grad school or something, AirBnB seems reasonable; if this is meant to be a indefinite-term thing, it seems a bit fishy (mostly just because AirBnB is going to be taking their cut, and why would you want to be paying for that in what could be a simple landlord-tenant relationship without intermediaries?).
posted by mskyle at 11:58 AM on September 14


My friend did a long term lease on AirBnB when she needed about 4 months of housing while doing an internship in Vienna. I don't think it's totally weird if it's long-ish term but if we're talking years I'd think it was strange.
posted by raccoon409 at 12:10 PM on September 14


This sounds super sketchy. No way would I long-term rent somewhere in the UK via AirBNB.

Seconding this:
But more importantly, I would worry about the kinds of protections you'd be giving up by not signing a more standard lease. Evictions, cleaning, rodent/bug control, security deposits, guests, repairs, and who is responsible for them are all covered under a standard lease. By not signing a lease you might find yourself on the hook or liable for things you might otherwise not be. You might be more at the mercy of a landlord who can throw you out at a moment's notice or not give you adequate notice for raising your rent/fees. I would be very wary about getting into an agreement where these things are not very clearly spelled out.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:10 PM on September 14


Thanks for your responses.

I am currently an airbnb member but I don't recall having to scan any photo I.D.

It was my intention to stay there for years as I am looking for a new home. The landlord accepted a 3 year work contract abroad and he says he will need the place back when he returns. I haven't yet seen his Airbnb profile as this property was advertised on gumtree (a bit like Craigslist). He did ask me how long I intended to stay at the property for which I think is more of an airbnb host question than a landlord question.

I have asked him how it will be possible to sign an official contract if he's in another country. I'm awaiting his response. If he comes back and gives me a named person who will take care of things that go wrong (and who I meet with in person), should I still have concerns?

The rent is a lot cheaper than any other property in the area but I put it down to it being above a transport hub (tube station). Those are usually cheaper.

Thanks for the long term cancellation policy info. It's those sorts of things that I worry about.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 12:58 PM on September 14


A friend just asked me this question about an apartment in Denver. Contact AirBNB customer service to check that this is legit. Within minutes, my friend was told this was indeed a scam.
posted by jennstra at 1:07 PM on September 14 [2 favorites]


Your update has me convinced it's a scam - it's lower than market rate, you found it on a Craigslist-ish site and he wants to rent the place for three years with no lease? Scam scam scam don't give this guy $$
posted by tatiana wishbone at 1:16 PM on September 14 [8 favorites]


Oh yeah that sounds like a scam, exactly the sort of thing that is described in Mchelly's link.
posted by mskyle at 2:03 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]


a flat/apartment owned by a landlord who lives in another country... I haven't yet seen his Airbnb profile as this property was advertised on gumtree (a bit like Craigslist)... The rent is a lot cheaper than any other property in the area

This absolutely SCREAMS scam. Scam, scam, scam, scam.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:10 PM on September 14 [2 favorites]


Bad idea. Don't sign anything, provide personal info, or give money. I'd need a MUCH better sense of what he's up to and why before even continuing to communicate with him at all.

Red flags:

He wants to "manage" via air bnb but neither he nor the property is listed on air bnb?

The person you're communicating with will never be available to meet in person?

It's a multi-year lease and he happens to be out of the country the whole time you need it?

It's well below market? That's the biggest flag of all; on all the housing rental sites here there's a warning about prices that seem too good to be true.
posted by kapers at 4:39 PM on September 14


Scam! This is just a variant on an apartment rental scam that has been going on for ages (#2 at the link).
posted by praemunire at 6:11 PM on September 14


Side issue, but: uploading a photo ID wasn't part of renting through AirBNB originally, but it's been more and more preferred as the years progress, and now, in the last year, it seems to be required for all rental requests. I've never been willing to do it, and when I tried to use the service last month, and ultimately gave up and got a hotel room because I couldn't get very far without putting my image in their db.
posted by amtho at 6:54 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]


Yeh I'm not happy about it and I was concerned from the start. He said he agreed this set-up with airbnb before he left. He wants me to pay money to his airbnb account BEFORE I even have a viewing (because this is the airbnb way of doing things). Apparently they have the keys and the contract and an airbnb agent will meet me to show me around. If I don't like the property, airbnb will refund the deposit. I have asked him for his airbnb profile so that I can ask them questions. He's very pushy and it just sounds dodgy as f~.

Scam! This is just a variant on an apartment rental scam that has been going on for ages (#2 at the link).

Yes. It sounds like Scenario #2.

Thanks for the responses.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 12:52 AM on September 15


Generally speaking, I could see why a landlord may want to rent for long-term chunks through AirBnB in order to piggyback AirBnB's insurance, particularly if their homeowner's insurance excludes coverage for rentals. But specifically, yeah this one sounds like a scam.
posted by craven_morhead at 9:51 AM on September 15 [1 favorite]


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