I see this topic has been discussed a lot, but I don’t see this aspect of it talked about: we have a studio apartment at the back of our home and have decided to rent through Airbnb rather than as a long term rental because our neighbourhood is not zoned for multi family homes. It also does not meet the fire code criteria to register as a multiplex (would require us to gut the bathroom and laundry room to put up firewall on either side of two long walls as well as build a fireproof barrier in the attic). And then there are also the commonly discussed “protections” from Airbnb. We discussed it with the Zoning department and our insurance company and neither of those things are pertinent with less than 3 guests at a time in a short term rental.
So we do max 28 day rentals. We recently had a quest stay for a year and although he asked for a cash deal, we made him do it 28 days at a time through Airbnb. Not sure how that would stand up in a court of law with regards to tenants rights.
Just wondered if any one else has thoughts about zoning and legally registering as a rental vs going through Airbnb?
It probably wouldn’t, in many jurisdictions.
Why? What’s wrong with good old cash? You’re effectively doing an LTR so why not simply give the guy a lease and stop wasting money on Airbnb fees. As long as you have the correct insurance in place, there is no benefit to using Airbnb after the first time a guests stays with you, they’re your customer now, not Airbnb’s!
Well as I was saying, our neighbourhood is not zoned for multi dwellings and we do not conform to the city bylaws to be a legally registered duplex. I wondered if anyone else was considering those things. Doesn’t sound like they are a concern for you?
You’re going against your zoning anyway by doing consecutive monthly bookings, from the same guest, so why waste money on Airbnb fees. Your local authority may take the view that you’re trying to circumvent local legislation, and apply whatever penalties they see fit.
If you want to stay entirely legal, then don’t accept the booking.
Agree with JF. Your regulators could take a dim view of your trying to “launder” your long term rental by breaking up the payments.
Some jurisdictions are more lax than others in enforcement, but all can take is one annoyed neighbor reporting you.
I like cash, but also I like shorter term guests not tenants. a year is 11.5 months too long. Especially if it turns out I did not like the person!
What if this tenant realized you were not a legal rental and used that as levrage against you?
So many things could go wrong imo
I’m agreeing with others that just because you use Airbnb to do the payment processing doesn’t automatically make it a short-term rental. You would likely get in trouble with your local government if they found out the same guest stayed more than the minimum time for a long-term rental and penalties may be even more severe since you are deliberately trying to hide the fact that you are supporting a long-term rental.
I’ve read that some hotels will force guests to vacate , which includes removing ALL of their belongings from the property, for at least 1 full day every 28-31 days (depending on the local regulation) in order for a stay to not be counted as a long-term rental and avoid being subject to the regulations that come with it.
Skirting laws and regulations seems to be a matter of individual risk tolerance. Whatever you decide to do, be sure that you know what potential penalty or legal cost that could result.
I have no problem taking cash. Airbnb is there to ‘introduce’ potential hosts to guests and once that’s done, and they’ve taken their fees, I see absolutely no reason why they should be involved afterwards.
If your rental isn’t up to code, if you’re renting out your studio against zoning regulations, if you don’t have a business license (if required in your area) and if you don’t have proper STR insurance then you’re taking a huge risk.
If the person stays for more than 28 days they are legally a tenant, it does not matter how you collect the money or if you don’t have a written lease. I am sorry to be harsh but this is landlord-tenant law 101. Of course that person had tenant rights, it really isn’t a flexible system. And good thing he didn’t get annoyed with you and report you to the code office because you would be screwed. If you aren’t allowed to have tenants in your studio then don’t have anyone stay more than 28 days.
We have a similar situation. Our building is legally a multiplex but only a legal 3 unit. We have a studio that does not have a stove and would also be a 4th unit which we can’t legally have in a 3 unit building. We are allowed to do STR in it, that is not an issue but we absolutely cannot have tenants in there. It is not a good idea to test the landlord-tenant laws, just use your studio for STR.
Thanks for the thoughtful responses. In my little head I guess our guest really did fit the definition of a short term renter - came from another country to work a contract of unknown length, not interested in leases, first & last, giving notice (indeed he told us one morning he was leaving and was gone that night). So it was mutually beneficial to ask every 28 days whether he would be staying longer. And since we were doing a STR contract through the app I thought my position was defensible. But I guess we will have to give some thought to whether we would ever do that again.
But, to my original question, it does seem like some hosts are doing side deals of cash without having considered zoning or insurance implications of long term rentals. So I was curious why I hadn’t seen discussion about that.
Only to be challenged that I may have considered it, but not really thought it through
Some of us quite happily book guests directly, and are fully licenced and insured.
It’s called an STR business…
Can you explain that a little? Also this:
Getting cash for your rental isn’t a ‘side deal’, by my interpretation anyway. Cash is just one of a guest’s payment options. Other methods are fine but if the customer wants to pay cash, there’s no problem.
As regards zoning and insurance, what does that have to do with accepting cash?
I’m sorry, I thought I answered that by explaining our own situation, but I guess I didn’t.
We do long term rentals in 2 of our units (they are furnished and go on Airbnb for STR in between tenants if needed), which for us is 1-9 months but usually 3-4 months on average. We did a one year lease one time and it was a bit of a nightmare and I also think it’s not a great idea for a furnished apartment because of the wear and tear on furnishings. All of our leases are month to month now too because I like the option of booting someone out if they are disturbing the community and we live on the property too.
We don’t consider it a “side deal of cash” because it is just traditional landlording that pre-dates Airbnb. But maybe you are referring to hosts that have a guest that starts out on Airbnb and then becomes a cash tenant? Some hosts do do that. We don’t because I don’t allow long term rentals on Airbnb. However, we have had several tenants that were our short term guests on Airbnb in the past, but not directly, they have all been months if not years later and a couple times by coincidence (they liked our apt on Airbnb and so when they saw it listed for long term elsewhere, they liked it again).
We don’t have to worry about it because we bought a 3 unit house, is meant for rentals. We freely switch between LTR and STR in the 3 actual units. There is an additional unit that is a studio guest suite that the last owner added a toilet, a shower and a bar sink to. It is legal and acceptable for us to rent as a STR, it is no different than a host renting their spare bedroom out. There are 2 reasons that we cannot rent it long term: 1. It does not have a stove and oven and in our municipality, a stove and oven is required for a long term rental. 2. Our house is a “legal 3 unit” which means we can only have 3 units with long term tenants, so we cannot add the studio as a 4th. Oddly, this is primarily a parking issue, we don’t have enough parking spots to get an occupancy change to a 4th unit.
I think that the confusion stems from your belief that anything rented through Airbnb is a short-term rental, which is incorrect. Whether a rental is short-term or long-term is determined by how many total days that the person stays there. Where the rental comes from has no bearing whatsoever on whether it is short-term or long-term.
In fact most zoning laws specifically address the sneaky approach that you took in an effort to disguise your long term rental as a short term rental. There is no way you would get away with that if you got caught. And as a reminder, these types of zoning laws that require firewalls and such as you mentioned are there for a reason. I don’t recommend playing fast and loose with it. If something to your tenant in that illegal long term rental apartment, you would never dig yourself out of that whole. Stick to STR or upgrade your unit and get a zoning amendment.
In @Vanmep 's situation, it is the opposite. She is not zoned for doing LTR for various reasons, but not the least of which is fire code. It seems that she is doing long term rentals by having guests book 28 days at a time for as long as a year in an attempt to pass them off as STR.
There are clearly issues that may come up for hosts who do STR against their zoning laws, but nothing as troublesome as the issues that arise from an illegal LTR apartment that doesn’t meet code.
In California, and in most other states, it does not matter how long the official booking is: what matters is how many consecutive nights they spend in your accommodation.
For some states, such as California, the limit at which a resident in a transient accommodation obtains tenant rights is over 30 consecutive nights. For some states, there is an actual number that is explicitly listed, but, for others, there is no explicit limit, which makes things more difficult to deal with. When there is no explicit limit in a state legal code, case law has sometimes filled the gap, and the courts may use a number that has been defined in several past decisions.
While we were abroad, we had long term tenants in our home (for several years). We were quite worried, coming back, about being able to reclaim control, and we actually consulted an attorney. We found out that it would have been easy for our tenants to make it almost impossible to regain access to our own home, even though we were going to be moving back. So we are now very careful.
We are newbies in STRs, so our opinion does not matter, but, right now, I figure that we would not accept any booking over 30 nights, regardless of incentive. We would require a guest to move out for a night before taking another booking.
Yes it does, all opinions are welcome here, even though some are less well received than others!
I’ll take anything off platform if you’re a good repeat booker — cash, venmo, paypal, old school paper checks.
I’ve got the permit and I pay sales and lodging tax and report income on federal taxes for all my revenue whatever the source.