Getting Started - Airbnb rental

40 Replies

Hi there!  

I live in Brooklyn and have a vacation rental upstate (not in NYC).  

My first advice is to be careful with NYC short-term rental laws.  From my understanding, renting out the room while you're there is fine, but renting out the entire apartment is not.  It's always changing, but keep track of that.  Your landlord may or may not did the research on this, so go for it, but keep it as a risk.  At any point, you may need to long as you have the excess funds to manage the risk, then go for it.  

Don't take a course unless it's free - AirBnB isn't that hard to do...especially at the scale that you're discussing...don't let people scare you into paying extra for something.  It does get a bit more complicated when you're talking about purchasing a property specifically for this purpose due to regulations (I have to answer to a state, a county, a town, and a village, who at any point can change their laws), the ebb and flow of tourism in a region, and your positioning within the region.  Making sure you don't annoy your neighbors.  Managing can be more complex too - I also use multiple sites to find guests, but for a room sublet, AirBnB is your best bet, and as you know, it's super easy to use.  

A comment earlier said that renting it out to a full time tenant will be less work.  Definitely true.  But this will be a fun learning experience.  As long as you are willing to take the risk!  Renting out a room has a lot of competition on's potentially less lucrative than renting the whole place (which, as i mentioned, you may not be able to do).  NYC has great tourism through New Years, then it gets slow.  I say do it through New Year's, then consider a long-term tenant in February if your bookings have slowed.  

I wouldn't change the lockset...that's going to cause more concern from your landlord who otherwise might not really care.  Just put a lockbox on a fence outside.  People do that all the time...for dog walkers, cleaning people, etc.  That won't draw excess attention and works just fine.  


Hey @Sara Abernethy , great advice! I would agree whole heartedly that a paid "course" is a bit overkill with Airbnb. An hour or two long conversation with a Superhost on the site would probably suffice. Also maybe getting a copy of how they draft their descriptions and house manual might be useful. Those documents may be worth paying for haha. I wish I had spent $100 when I started for a copy of a solid house manual. Would have saved me a lot of nights getting knocks on the front door at 11pm when they were supposed to go around back. 

Overall Airbnb has been great for our company and we're about to expand! It's always fun to hear others providing advice and tips for those about to get started. :) 

Thanks Sam!  Do you have a solid house manual now?  Or a way to avoid those calls?  I still get calls about half the time asking to re-confirm what's already in the online instructions:)  

@Brady Boyer I would avoid airbnb if you have a no sublease clause in your lease agreement. New York, from my understanding, is one of the least friendly areas towards airbnb. You are better off renting long term and saving all the headache of hosting people, cleaning after them and booking stays. 

I dont know if this is your area but this case might make you think a bit more about what decision you will make

There is plenty of opportunity to make money in real estate other than airbnb. Also, you have to remember that investing in real estate is a marathon, not a sprint. So the "quick cash" from airbnb might seem attractive but success comes in the long term. 

Hey Brady,

I have been doing "room" and "house" rentals for 15 plus years.  To be honest, I think that you would be better off skipping AirBNB and just finding a longer term renter that needs a furnished room.  If you fix up the room and provide towels and bedding, you could generate more than you are currently.  Put a 30-day minimum on the rental (or whatever works for you).   Will they have a private bath?  What is the condition of your common rooms?  I would advertise this on Zillow and Craigslist.  You should be able to get $1500/month and less headaches.  

I don't think you'll have a lot of trouble renting it out. You're in a good neighborhood for Airbnb which compensates for the bathroom issue. Most Manhattan Airbnb's are solidly booked BCS the rest of them are out in places like Bushwick.  You're totally legal BCS you're the primary occupant. 

Fwiw I've seen Airbnb's in the Village Etc sharing a bath and the calendars were booked solid. 

I'd love to have an Airbnb and looking to do it remotely from Newark Lol.

@Brady Boyer I would decide to Rent the Room on a monthly basis considering the fact that you get a short notice travel from your job, the issue of cleaning And all of that will be handled by the tenants and you will get your monthly payment directly to your account where ever you are.
As a Licensed Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty Liberty in New York I come across tenants.
Most of the time I handle any other issues to ease the stress off the Landlord or property owner that I may be working with.
Feel free to reach out to me if needed.

Originally posted by @Joseph M. :

So @Marcia Maynard brought up a good point, which you didn't make mention of. Does your current lease allow you to sublet rooms? I'm surprised no one else thought to ask you this question. If you are leasing an apartment, will they allow you to change locks? I ask because most landlords would not allow you to do either. I guess if you could explain to your landlord your situation and they approved it, then everything would be fine. As long as they get the rent on time and the apartment isn't getting damaged. I think the whole non-subletting policy in a lease agreement became standard, prior to airbnb becoming so popular. If you are renting, and decide to host at your apartment. What happens if someone falls and gets hurt? Your landlord would become liable (to someone that's not even on the lease). Essentially someone would be staying at the apartment who wasn't approved or screened by the landlord. Question for current landlords? Would you be willing to allow a tenant to sublet rooms in a rental?

Good comments.  A responsible tenant would not even think of subletting a room in his apartment (short-term or long-term) without clearing it with the landlord. That goes for changing locks too.

To answer your question.... no, we do not allow subletting. We even include additional wording in our lease to make it clear. Here is an excerpt from the Use and Occupancy section of our rental agreement.

"ASSIGNMENT.Tenant agrees to not sublet said premises, nor assign this agreement, nor any part thereof without prior written consent of Landlord. Tenant may not rent use of the unit, or any portion of the unit, to others. This includes use as a short-term vacation rental or posting on sites such as Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway."

We  have a procedure in place for changing the make-up of the household.  So if one roommate moves out and another wants to move in, it's easy to do. Change of household members is common in the residential rental business.

Landlords who allow tenants to make changes to how they use the property and who they allow to live at the property, without getting landlord consent, put themselves at risk.


Through the Airbnb app there is a link you can click on for community questions. You could find some hosts there that are in your area, and ask them your questions also!  It has been very helpful to me to get specific numbers!

Good luck!  Its a great $ maker-in my experience!

Hello there. I am curious - Regarding your house manual- do you find that the majority of the guests actually read it? I have not done one yet but I am considering it. I just noticed that they are always surprised about little things like me having a dog or the fact that there is a bunkbed… These are things that I post in my listing of course.
Thank you so much!

@Brady Boyer

I would just echo @Marcia Maynard 's point about insurance. DO NOT rely on any traditional homeowners or rental insurance to cover your short-term rental. Airbnb says they have coverage, but I don't trust them because a) they have split loyalties between the hosts and the guests and b) you have to file with them even though they don't actually operate the policies.

Opt for a company that specializes in short-term rental insurance. There are a couple out there. I like Proper Insurance the best. They will cover your whole place or just a room, and their coverage areas are broader than others. (For owners, Proper's plans replace your traditional homeowner's policy.) 

STR insurance might be a little more, but the peace of mind is well worth it.

Why not just include the cleaning fee inside the cost of your listing? Cleaning fees are a turn-off for me as a guest. People will just as soon book a hotel if they have to pay all those additional charges. Why not charge a hosting fee? A tour guide fee for giving tourism advice? Charge extra for internet and cable and water usage while you're at it.