Subletting apartment for Super Bowl?
January 7, 2014 7:32 PM   Subscribe

I live in Newark, NJ. It recently occurred to me that the Super Bowl is happening very close to me very soon, and my roommate and I are considering the possibility of renting out our apartment to people looking for housing. We haven't even gotten as far as discussing this with our landlord, so it's not terribly serious at this point. But what are logistical things we might not be considering in terms of this? Has anyone done this in the past? What are good ways to find non-shady people to stay in my apartment?
posted by naturalog to Grab Bag (13 answers total)
AirBnB is what you want for this.

For inspiration, you might check out AirBnB listings for cities that have famous seasonal tourist events, like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Coachella around Palm Springs, etc.
posted by Sara C. at 7:44 PM on January 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

People certainly do this frequently these days using sites like AirBnB although being within Newark might be a turnoff for people coming from out of state who will only have second hand knowledge of the city's less-than-stellar rep.

The Essex County news blog Baristanet did a piece a few weeks ago about area homes posting listings on a site called, uh, Super Bowl Rentalz. No idea whether it's reputable, though.
posted by bcwinters at 7:45 PM on January 7, 2014

might be one of those moments where it's better to ask forgiveness than ask permission?
posted by sanderman at 7:51 PM on January 7, 2014

The cheapest tickets to the Super Bowl on StubHub as of this writing are over $2,500 each. While a rich person can certainly trash an apartment, anyone who has SB tickets is probably not judgement-proof.

Also, tow people who can afford $5000 to go to the game probably also wouldn't blink at an extra $500 - $1000 deposit, to be refunded when they leave.
posted by Hatashran at 7:55 PM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Before I take the risk with a stranger, my first inclination would be to use social media (hit up your Facebook, Twitter, what have you) to see if there's anyone trustworthy within your extended social circle who might want to rent to. This seems a little easier from the aspect of dealing with your landlord, since it may seem less like profiteering if you're letting friends of friends stay over than total strangers. I would get payment up front, obviously, and also probably a security deposit.

On the other hand, think of this from the worst case scenario - what if your place gets trashed? What if someone accidentally starts a fire, or slips on your front steps, or steals something? In that case a legitimate commercial site like airbnb may be better just in terms of liability, since they have insurance coverage built in to their fees (last time I checked).
posted by aspen1984 at 8:10 PM on January 7, 2014

Emphasize your place's distance to the stadium and the transportation options available.
posted by acidic at 8:23 PM on January 7, 2014

I don't mean to spoil things here, but please keep your neighbours in mind and even involve them in the decision. Bad experience over here with new people, and large groups of them, tromping in and out of my quaint, and previously secure, building to access an airbnb apartment.
posted by analog at 8:48 PM on January 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

You should look into being an Air BnB host. The whole model is designed to mitigate risk for both prospective property-offerers -- who are typically not professional B&Bs or rental agencies, but just regular folks who have spare room -- and prospective guests who are looking for a trustworthy situation. Having a middleman is a worthwhile investment for safety, privacy, and accountability on both sides.
posted by desuetude at 11:42 PM on January 7, 2014

Do airbnb. Don't tell your landlord unless there's some way he would notice or be made aware of it. If you do tell him, ask forgiveness rather than permission.
posted by zdravo at 4:44 AM on January 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

I did this in New Orleans for the Super Bowl last year! It worked out really, really well. The couple who stayed at my place were super grateful to have found a nice, clean, safe place and were just wonderful people.

I did not at any point tell my landlord. I put an ad on Craigslist New Orleans under vacation rentals. I posted a couple of interior pictures and described the location and size of the apartment but didn't put too many details. I said I would reply with more information to interested parties, and I initially asked what I thought was an astronomical fee per night but many people were willing to pay it so don't sell yourself short when naming your price.

I got responses from about 20 people. Of these, I immediately discarded anyone that seemed sketch and people who wanted to bring like eight of their fraternity brothers or six family members or whatever because my apartment doesn't comfortably sleep more than three and I was unwilling to inconvenience my neighbors. I ended up corresponding with about four couples, sending them about ten interior pictures and more fully describing the house and the neighborhood. I narrowed it down to this one couple after a few days. I friended them on facebook, googled the heck out of them, checked the websites of their places of employment to verify that they worked there, spoke to them on the phone multiple times, etc. etc. By the time we came to an agreement I trusted them and they trusted me. We even agreed that they would take care of my cat so she wouldn't have to be boarded; they were big animal people and were happy to do it.

I had them paypal me half the total agreed upon price when we confirmed the "reservation." They paid the other half upon arrival; the guy got out his laptop and transferred the money as I watched. I made sure the apartment was spotless, I provided clean linens, travel size toiletries, a welcoming bottle of wine; basically everything that had been provided to me when I've stayed in AirB'n'B properties. By this time we were friendly so it was a pleasant interaction when they arrived. I did have my boyfriend there when they arrived just in case, and I did tell my neighbors what was going on so they weren't alarmed at the comings and goings of a couple of strangers.

They had my phone number and they texted several times for advice on restaurants and stuff while they were here, which I didn't mind at all. I may have just been very lucky, but I felt confident enough about them by the time we met in person that I didn't worry at all while they were staying at my place. Good luck, feel free to memail if you have any questions.
posted by CheeseLouise at 8:45 AM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, and to add, I stayed with some friends during the time my houseguests were there, and I used a decent chunk of the money I made to take us all out to a really nice dinner and lots of drinks. It was worth it just to be able to treat my friends like that.
posted by CheeseLouise at 8:50 AM on January 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Not to be a party pooper, but airbnb is (for rental apartments) NOT legal unless your building is specifically zoned for transient occupancy. Im a property manager and we'be been bringing eviction proceedings against tenants who use airbnb or otherwise illegally sublet their apartments. Its also a super crappy thing to do to your neighbors who now have total strangers who have not been vetted tromping through the building. At the least, you're compromising the safety of the building and at worst, you're facing fines. Please, please talk to your landlord before doing this.

Sorry to rant but omg do I hate airbnb. Shadiest operation ever.
posted by silverstatue at 10:31 AM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

silverstatue: "airbnb is (for rental apartments) NOT legal unless your building is specifically zoned for transient occupancy"

You're citing New York zoning laws. The OP lives in New Jersey.

I can understand the frustration of neighbors and landlords regarding really active Air BnB hosts who take people on an ongoing basis, but I wouldn't put special-occasion use like this is in the same category of practical concern.
posted by desuetude at 11:49 AM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

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