Alternative Portland Housing/AirBnB Subleasing

7 Replies

I have a unique situation I'm trying to find solutions for. My girlfriend, from Kansas City, has some severe autoimmune diseases. Severe enough that although she's extremely active and upbeat, she's essentially been day-to-day for several years now. The one specialist in the country that can possibly get her better is in Portland, but it's an experimental treatment that's extremely expensive and we cannot solve how to afford that, her apartment in KC, travel, etc. To the point, that I think she's ready to give up.

I'm convinced there's a better way for housing than the short term, but expensive, housing she has been using. I'm not in a position to take out a 4th mortgage right now but my first thought is that a loft or one-bedroom apartment that could be used as an AirBnB when she's not in town would work. I don't know how realistic that is in Portland (I'm also in Kansas but travel a lot). A tiny house would work really well since she just needs a good size bed for days she's recovering from treatments and decent kitchen space for her highly specialized diet. But, I wouldn't be able to build one for her as quickly as she needs it. I'll likely be joining to help her out some and we've discussed that my appraiser/flipper/realtor skill set is something that would let me land on my feet pretty easy if we need to move there permanently for a year or two. Or if I need to find someone to help out one week a month with analysis, appraisals, project management, etc.

Is an apartment that I can AirBnB realistic in Portland? I can take a small monthly "loss" and not have it be a big deal. Are there any ideas I'm not thinking of here? I'm pretty much open to any concept, but I think she's too defeated at this point to be able to see any solutions.

@Mike Nuss   is an expert at city of Portland rental laws.

I think the city is tightening up on Air bnb but don't know about arbitraging them.. 

but renting a room from someone might be the way to go.. rents are going to be higher 

here than KC on the whole.. especially if you have to be closer to downtown or OHSU..

But maybe we can get Mike to help you out.. 

Hi @Matt Lowery , I feel your pain, my wife with through a tough bout with an autoimmune disease for about two years and is finally getting close to normal but not as severe as your girlfriend it sounds like.  Mike Nuss is a great resource for sure but just know that you will need to find an apartment that is ok with you doing AirBnB and I'm guessing most of the corporate-run ones won't be ok with that.  Look for a mom and pop run apartment and let them know your situation.  

You could easily purchase a tiny house or camper that is already finished but it might be hard to find some land to put it on.  Have you thought about renting your place in KC on Airbnb?  Especially if you travel a lot it might be a good solution.  

@Matt Lowery man sorry to hear about your gf's health. I love how you're thinking "how can I make this work", keep up that mindset. 

As far as airbnb rules go, as long as you'll live there for 270 days per year, legally you can get a license to do that. As @Brad Hammond mentioned, you'll need to have the property owner's support in that and they will have to sign the permit application, so finding a mom and pop type landlord will probably be your best bet to find an owner willing to allow that. 

Side note on the tiny house....Portland made a public announcement a while back that they are not enforcing RV laws in single family zones. So, even though it's against the law to park a tiny home on a lot (or an RV, or 5th wheel, etc..), the city is not enforcing those laws. So you could purchase and park a tiny house, put that house in the yard, live in the tiny house and airbnb out the main house as well. Just an added thought there. Or, you can purchase a tiny home and "rent" a yard or driveway like space rent in a moho park. 

@Jay Hinrichs and @Mike Nuss  Thanks for the response. I'm scrambling to get familiar with the Portland market. I'll keep digging for something short term while we trying and figure out a long term solution. I've even reached out to a few realtors to see if there are any vacant listings that the owner would appreciate having someone house sit until it closes. If anything may pop into your head that might be worth looking into, I'm open to anything at this point. I'd also do my best to find a favor to do in return.

Thanks for the responses!

Originally posted by @Mike Nuss :

@Matt Lowery man sorry to hear about your gf's health. I love how you're thinking "how can I make this work", keep up that mindset. 

As far as airbnb rules go, as long as you'll live there for 270 days per year, legally you can get a license to do that. As @Brad Hammond mentioned, you'll need to have the property owner's support in that and they will have to sign the permit application, so finding a mom and pop type landlord will probably be your best bet to find an owner willing to allow that. 

Side note on the tiny house....Portland made a public announcement a while back that they are not enforcing RV laws in single family zones. So, even though it's against the law to park a tiny home on a lot (or an RV, or 5th wheel, etc..), the city is not enforcing those laws. So you could purchase and park a tiny house, put that house in the yard, live in the tiny house and airbnb out the main house as well. Just an added thought there. Or, you can purchase a tiny home and "rent" a yard or driveway like space rent in a moho park. 

OMG  city of Portland is just plain insane.. the hoops we have to jump through to build new nice product.

then they just let the city wide open to drag trailers in.. how third world can you get.

Matt, I feel for you. I am no pro, but dabbled in rental arbitrage in Portland Metro area, specifically Camas, WA. I did a bunch of research and learned a ton. I highly recommend watching AirBNB Automated on YouTube. Sean doesn’t know this market, but you will learn a ton in preparation for what you are about to jump into. You can make it happen!

@Matt Lowery if you don't have to be right in the city of Portland (if she can commute to her treatments or take the MAX/Tram) there are communities/suburbs in the Portland area that have less strict Airbnb rules.  I live in the wine country (probably too far - about 45 minutes with light traffic - light traffic in Portland would be weekends and off hours -to downtown Portland) but the rules are relatively easy to work with in many of my local communities which attract a lot of tourists.  I don't know the rules in these communities but you might check out Beaverton, Tigard, Milwaulkie's Airbnb restrictions as they are all a relatively easy commute into downtown (will she be at OHSU?).  I'm betting Beaverton/Hillsboro you might have some flexibility with all the tech companies?  Just a thought - someone else probably knows more about this than I do.  

Another thought might be to find a two bedroom apartment and sublet a bedroom?  Its really difficult for folks to find an affordable place so maybe sharing? 

Kind of an oddball idea would be to rent a travel trailer and have it parked in a cute park or at a park?  There are lots of RV's for rent -I'm guessing that the winter in Oregon is slow for these folks so maybe you could strike a deal.  I've seen them on craigslist or even facebook and you can check out the bigger websites Outdorsy.com or Campanda.com  A lot of the owners will park it for you at your requested location.  If not, there is a guy on craigslist under RV's that will move it for you, I seen his ad all the time! 

Best wishes- I hope the treatment is a home run!

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