Apartment Living BlogFeatured › A Property Manager’s Guide to Navigating the Rise of Airbnb

In many places, Airbnb is changing the real estate landscape, prompting much discussion, including questions of appropriate residential use, affordable housing and balancing tourism growth with long term rentals. Many of these conversations are happening locally to address the needs specific to each municipality and the opinions of local residents.


However, there are some nationwide conversations, tools and statistics about the leasing impacts on long term apartment rentals from Airbnb, subletting and short term rentals. If you’re a property manager, this is an issue you should be watching closely. Here are the latest points to consider.

What Do Apartment Residents Think About Airbnb?


Your residents are not guaranteed the right to sublet an apartment or to use an apartment as a vacation rental. In most cases, you have likely already added provisions in your lease agreements as to what your community’s rules are about subletting and vacation rentals.


But if you are trying to manage your apartment community in a way that puts you ahead of the curve, it’s worth considering current sentiment of apartment residents. Depending on which way the wind blows, either allowing or forbidding residents to use platforms like Airbnb could give your business the edge.


A survey done by the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) found that apartment resident views on short term rentals are divided. In San Francisco, there is a comparable number of people for it and against it. Renters’ opinions about a building that allows short term rentals are divided with 18 percent thinking it’s a positive asset of the building and 21 percent thinking more negatively about the building because of its short term rental policy.



When the data is segmented by age groups, we see that younger renters are more likely to be in favor of short term rentals. In a sampling of renters from across the country, 21 percent of 25 to 34-year-olds had favorable thoughts about apartment buildings that allowed short term rentals. For the 65 and older respondents, that favorable sentiment  dropped to 8 percent. As for those who said they wouldn’t rent in a building that allowed short term rentals, the results were 11 percent of 25 to 34-year-olds and 32 percent of those 65 and older.

Local Culture Affecting Short Term Housing Legislation


In newspapers, town meetings and zoning commissions, the issue of short term rentals is being weighed and considered with emphasis on how the growth of platforms like Airbnb is impacting residents and apartment communities. This local dialogue is, in many ways, the most pertinent to your apartment community and can have the biggest impact. As a property manager, it can be helpful to learn about the local conversations that are happening so that you can understand the nuances of public sentiment.


However, in addition to public sentiment, it’s critical to learn if any local ordinances have been passed on subletting restrictions or requirements. For example, in Asheville, NC, where tourism is fast on the rise, the city cracked down on short term rentals after continued conversion of residential units into short term housing units.


Other approaches include Seattle’s regulation to limit short term rentals to two per host. Regulations may even vary within the same metro area, such as in the St. Louis region, where neighboring municipalities are handling the topic differently. So check your local regulations to be sure that you are managing your building in accordance with the widely variable local laws.


In one ongoing court case between Airbnb and the Apartment Investment & Management Co. which owns Los Angeles’ Palazzo apartment community, “Aimco is asking a court to stop Airbnb from enabling tenants to illicitly sublet their apartments.” This case could set the precedent for a nationwide law on apartment sublets.


airbnb housing

Property Manager’s Monitoring and Oversight


No matter what the regulations are in your municipality and however you decide to address the issue in your apartment community, it’s important to provide oversight for your property. That’s where it’s helpful to use automation tools such as Sublet Alert which, after signing up, will notify you when a resident lists their apartment on Airbnb or a similar site.


If these vacation rentals or sublets are not allowed in your community, this notification will give you the knowledge that you need to speak with the resident about this lease violation. And if residents are permitted to sublet in your community, this notification will still keep you in the loop about what is happening in your properties and provide you with an opportunity to follow up about any safety guidelines or preempt any concerns about noise.


airbnb vacation rental lease


Another way that apartment communities are responding to this issue is to get residents and property managers to collaborate on the short term rental process. For example, the Airbnb Friendly Buildings Program provides a profit sharing model for residents and property managers to divide the income generated from short term rentals. This provides the resident with the extra income that they want from subletting, while also mitigating some of the additional wear and tear on the unit and the property’s oversight costs. The program was launched with a group of five apartment buildings in San Francisco that are owned by Veritas Investments. The program also provides access to Pillow, a suite of digital services for coordinating efforts of residents and property managers on Airbnb activity.

In Pursuit of Harmony


The National Apartment Association says that coexistence may be on the horizon, and many apartment communities are seeking out creative ways to accommodate the changing landscape of rental needs.


One apartment community is allocating a single floor to be used for Airbnb rentals, thus insulating the culture of long term residents from the vacationers. Another community is adding decibel meters to apartments to ensure the transient renters do not adversely affect the long term residents. And still other apartment communities are encouraging the use of Airbnb as a way for residents to supplement their income and afford apartments in high-cost locations.


“Short term rentals represent a new source of high-quality demand for assets you already own,” said Joe Fraiman to the NMHC. Fraiman, who runs Parallel, which leases blocks of apartments for luxury short term rentals, added, “The challenge is, how does the industry capitalize on the demand? Short term rentals will go from something forbidden to something actually courted and seen as a fixture in the industry.”


If you’re looking to promote your furnished apartments or short term rentals, take a look at our CorporateHousing.com advertising solutions. Stay tuned for more industry news on the ForRent.com Apartment Pros blog and explore marketing solutions and services to build your brand, drive traffic and retain residents on the ForRent.com solutions site.

Katie Glaser


Katie Glaser has been a marketing communications professional for over 15 years. Specializing in real estate marketing, she has overseen the digital marketing and editorial content initiatives for residential and multifamily property listing sites, Homes.com and ForRent.com. A Virginia Beach local, Katie holds a B.S. Communications degree from Old Dominion University and previously held a Virginia real estate license.

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