Zoning LAWS - "Owner must live on property"

Many of my guests comment that they are surprised I, the owner, live in the basement which is required by law in my area and many of the surrounding areas. I have it stated in the description. Even the Airbnb spotters mentioned their surprise that I lived on the property - Its the Law. Any suggestions as to how others handle this issue?
I thought it is a given that most Airbnb properties are privately owned and subject to state and local zoning laws. Perhaps some are not a strict as others but none the less applicable.

You actually hosted Airbnb spotters?

There are many in-home hosts that share space with their guests, and per the listing , they expect to see the owner. Does your listing not reflect that you live there?

What is an Airbnb spotter?

As far as my local ordinances go, I have to live here but not every single day. If i live here more than half the year, I still live here. I imagine some hosts are doing that kind of arrangement but they’d have to have the property homesteaded and their address on their ID as that property. If they have a second house, it might not be homesteaded or it could be homesteaded under their spouse maybe.

So you are renting out the entire house and you live in a basement suite? I think that’s a little bit unusual set up so when people search for and “entire place” and see a three BR/2 ba home with no shared spaces it just doesn’t occur to them that the owner lives there too. And they don’t read.

So you have it stated in the first paragraph that they see without clicking “more?” But you’ve got to have it right up at the top not the fifth paragraph down. People don’t read! You can’t do much more than that though. If this is a frequent issue I’d message each guest when they reserve or inquire and tell them you live in the basement.

I honestly don’t think they were Airbnb spotters. I think she hosted some oddballs. Even if there are spotters I don’t see them spending their time on 3 bedroom homes at under $100 a night. They can’t even bother to remove bad guests from the platform or answer all their phone calls.


I stayed at an Airbnb in Spokane recently where the owners lived in a basement apartment. I was completely aware of it, I read the listing. (I know, SHOCK :wink: ) it was a beautiful place. My ONLY issue was the floor squeaked, a great deal. I felt like the owners might be hyper aware of where I was in the space and that I might be disturbing them. I really should have asked them if they even heard it and let them know that the squeaky floor made me uncomfortable for the above reasons. Shame on me, I never did. :confused: The point I am taking so long to make is, if your floors squeak in the upper unit, let your guests know that either you can’t hear it or you don’t notice it anymore. Or if they do not, I might also, if I were in your shoes, let them know, that you aren’t tracking their comings and goings just because you live downstairs. I have a note about that in my listing regarding my outdoor security cameras. The ONLY guests that have had issues with them were, oddly enough, from Spain.

OMG, I just had a light bulb moment. Our floors squeak in certain spots. Our unit is in an apt building, but there is no one below; we use the downstairs unit as storage/rarely used office space. I wonder if we should let guests know there’s no one below them?


I would at least note it in your description, you know, for all those that read it out there LOL


I believe that in the early days, most hosts lived on site, but now that we have STR apartment building is the cities that haven’t outlawed them, it’s fairly common for the host to live off-site. I haven’t had anyone express surprise I live on site, but I say so a few times.

OP, I was under the impression you rent mulitple private rooms. Is your basement a separate unit?

I’m also skeptical that there are AirBnB secret shoppers. The company won’t even take down fraudulent listings. I’ve seen listings stay up after multiple reviewers state that the pictures and address aren’t accurate. Quality control doesn’t seem to be a concern for ABB.

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I had Matthew, Airbnb’s Australian Market Manager, stay at one of my places. He was alone and he didn’t tell me who he was. He left an excellent review, he said he was in the area for work, which I found strange as we are an hour from the city in a country, seaside town. I searched for Airbnb events in the area and couldn’t find anything. However, I wouldn’t expect a marketing person would be checking out listings.

The only reason I knew who he was is because I have been to a number of Airbnb events that he had run and been the main speaker at so I recognised his photo.

I am not sure if you mean that you live in a separate basement suite, apart from the main floor of the home and nothing is shared but that the two are separate units within the same building (a secondary suite). With different or separate entry points into the units.
Regardless, as long as you are very clear and descriptive of this in your listing, it is just a matter of the guest paying attention to what he/she is reading on your listing before booking. Perhaps wording it differently so that is very obvious and clear what your guests are to expect and whether or not they will see you on the property would be good.

:rofl: :rofl:

that is all

It’s not a given! Perhaps when Airbnb first started as a “home sharing” site, but they’ve grown so much larger since then.

In my small town you can rent space in a residential zoned home where the host lives or you can rent a condo in a commercial zone (no resident requirement). Some of the homes offer “private room” but many rent as an “suite/whole place” with an entire level of the home. Some commercial zones are just down the road or across the street from residential areas. I’d be surprised if guests noticed the distinction, as both would show in “whole place” search results.

I clearly state I live on the property in the top blurb and house rules. If I’ve surprised anyone they haven’t told me!

Yes, to all your questions. I rent the top 2 above ground floors - 3 bedrooms, kitchen, private entrance, bath, etc. for the guests, as one unit -and I live in a private apartment in the basement. Private entrance, bath, kitchen, etc. Sometimes I never see the guests as their entrance has a code-lock to allow self check-in. …and I’m finding the last few months folks are surprised to find I live in the basement apartment and then mention it in their reviews, like it is a negative - I’m 73 years old have no TV or radio nor do I have personal guests visiting, yet this seems to surprise some that I use the same walkway and share the driveway. My response to anything that comes up is usually immediate - things like how to use the coffee maker or other small appliances or the frying pan is not to their liking,etc… Yes, I have gone out and bought special items when requested especially when it provides additional value for the next guest. (i.e. a hand mirror, non-stick frying pan as the one provided was corning ware, additional blankets as one was allergic to the extra one which was woolen, etc…)
My goal is to provide extraordinary service and I enjoy meeting guests both visiting family living locally or from other countries.
This is why it surprises me when guests are a bit taken aback that I live in the basement - clearly stated in the description and put in the welcome letter before they arrive. Go figure.

Oh brother!!! And yeah go figure is right!

You have not indicted where in the world you live. Owner-occupied is not a requirement in many parts of the U.S. Many of these types of misunderstands come down to poor communications. It is one thing for them not to read the listing, but you could clearly reinforce that information in your online communications.

I use SmartBnB to send an automated message to the guest the moment they may the reservation with a bullet point outline of the rules and things of note.

Got it - I will tighten that up - however, even when I put it into the welcome e-mail, it does not seem to be read or understood. Will keep trying to communicate. Thanks.