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Blog - I say YES, landlord says NO! What do I do?

I say YES, landlord says NO! What do I do?
By Symon 9/7/2017 11:49 AM Comments

Post written by: Symon at LearnAirbnb

If you don't own the property you host with on Airbnb, did you first get permission from your landlord?

Probably not.  You may get away with it for a while but eventually, they will find out.  And they're not going to be happy with you.

Trust me, I've been kicked out of more than one place for doing that.  

Below are suggestions for the initially harder but eventually easier way to go with landlords.

How to Negotiate with Landlords

Maybe you're thinking… "Hey, this doesn't apply to me!  I own my Airbnb's my home!"

Well, that's good...but I'm sure you have neighbors, right?  

This can apply to you because unhappy neighbors can easily crush your Airbnb dreams by making ruining your guest experience.    

Think of Landlords as the Chief-Neighbor.  

Everything we explain below about landlords are great tactics you could also use to smooth things over with a troublesome neighbor.

Making your landlord and neighbors happy will make your Airbnb hosting experience much more enjoyable.

Let's get started.

The Big Q

One of the top three questions, hands down, that we get is:

 "I want to list on Airbnb, but I have a landlord. How do I approach them and get permission to rent out my space?"

You need to do this the right way. It’s a pretty big conversation…and if you’re going to be successful, you’re going to need to be prepared.

You might think to yourself:

 “What’s the big deal?”

 “Why would my landlord care?”

That’s a common first reaction and it’s the number 1 reason why so many people rent on Airbnb WITHOUT telling their landlords.  (Note that’s NOT a good idea!)

While going under the radar might work for a while, it’s inevitably going to blow up in your face.

In that case, you stand to lose a lot more than your rental income.

You could get evicted and have to find a new property to live in you're out of a business and out of home.

If you're renting a property that's dedicated to Airbnb, you could even be handed a 3-day notice and told to pay the balance of your lease obligation...that's scary.

So let's get your Airbnb listing Landlord-Approved.

Get Into the Mind of an Airbnb Landlord

First off, you do not stand a chance of negotiating with your landlord if you do not understand the position they are coming from.

Put yourself in the shoes of your landlord and try to think about the things that influence their decisions and how they see their properties.

If you don’t know much about rental properties, let me fill you in.

Landlords see their long-term rental properties (properties that are under 1, 2, 3+ year leases) as a low risk, and modest source of income.

Some landlords make a lot of money off properties, and some make only side income. But one thing that does not change: landlords see long-term rental income as low risk.

Now, imagine that YOU own a property and your tenant approaches you and asks if they can let a large number of strangers come in and out of their space for THEIR own profit.

Your property just went from low risk and modest income to HIGH risk and modest income.

Airbnb Landlord Risks

It's “riskier” to the landlord for multiple reasons:

  • While Airbnb does verify guests identity, there is still potential for bad-apple guests that can cause property damage, harass neighbors, or create theft.

  • In many city municipalities, short-term rentals are illegal and property owners can be subject to fines if caught.

But here’s the biggest one:

  • Landlords are required to have homeowners insurance for their building that covers anything that could go wrong.

Here's some knowledge for you:  Homeowners insurance will deny ANY and ALL claims in the case that they find out the space was being rented like a business.  Yes…Airbnb is a business.

Even worse…they could cancel the landlords insurance entirely (causing the ENTIRE building to then be illegal for occupancy by normal tenants).  Now you AND your neighbors have nowhere to live.

Make a Conversation Game Plan

In order to get a YES from your landlord, you’re going to have to be prepared to change the risk/income equation for them.  

Now that doesn’t necessarily mean paying more rent, but in many cases that’s all it takes.

Be aware of your relative position before you enter the conversation:

  • How long have you been a tenant?

  • Have you been a good tenant?

  • How old is your landlord? Do you think they’ve even heard of Airbnb?

  • How quickly do you think they could find a new long-term tenant? Is it a hot rental market?

  • Do you share space with other tenants who could be affected?

  • Are you rent controlled?

  • Does the landlord have multiple properties?

Being in a strong negotiation position means:

  • You’ve been a tenant for a long time

  • The landlord is more comfortable with you

  • The landlord is familiar with Airbnb or Home Sharing

  • The landlord has only a few properties

  • …and the worse the long-term rental market – the better your position

If you’re in a strong position, it might only take a little bit of compromise to get a YES.

If you’re in a weak position, it could take a lot, and getting a YES might take some creativity.

Consider what you can offer to your landlord

On the income side:

  • You can offer to extend your lease

  • You can offer to pay more…a flat rate or a % of Airbnb earnings

  • You can offer to pre-pay rent up front

On the risk side:

  • You can explain to them how the Airbnb $1MM insurance guarantee works

  • You can offer to purchase your own vacation rental insurance (anywhere from $80 – $200 / month typically)

  • You can offer to limit the rentals to certain times and certain groups

  • You can guarantee that you’ll only be renting private rooms and will be present throughout the stays

  • You can amend your rental contract to offer coverage of certain damages yourself

  • You can increase the size of your security deposit

Now, this is by no means an exhaustive list of options, but they are the options that I have seen work in the past.

In my experience, these are the things landlords care about + or – a couple potential curveballs.

Be prepared to know what you think you can offer them and what you think it will cost to address their concerns.

Start the Conversation

The way I’ve explored it, there are two options to bring this up.  

One is directly with your landlord, the other is what I call the “nuclear option”.

Directly Asking

If you think you have enough rapport with your landlord, then try approaching them directly.

My suggestion is that your main focus is simply starting a dialogue and not treating this like a business pitch.

Keep it simple.  A landlord will not approve what they cannot understand and if you pile on information, they will get confused.

Try emailing them or talking in person like this:

“Hi  Landlord Name,

I’ve recently been introduced to Airbnb when I went on my trip to Paris.  Its an amazing service.

I was wondering if you had an opinion about Airbnb?”

By simply asking their opinion, you don’t prime them for confrontation and you open up a conversation simply pertaining to what they KNOW about Airbnb.

Note: If you're about to start hosting on Airbnb, you can use this same conversation starter with your neighbors to gauge their opinion.

Note 2: It may be better to bring up HomeAway or VRBO, business that do not have a lot of media hype but offer the same services as Airbnb.  Weird to say this, but I guess Airbnb can be considered a 'trigger word'.

Once you’ve established what your landlord knows and thinks, you can have a much easier time at explaining it to them and dispelling the myths.

In the same conversation, I would attempt to bring up 2 things:

  1. You’re exploring the opportunity, but wanted to be respectful and ask their opinion first.

    • Establish that there is a solid reason why you are interested and would benefit from Airbnb.

    • Explain that it will help you pay rent, meet bills, or improve your life in some way.

  2. Let them know that you understand, that to the landlord this sounds risky, and that you’re willing to find a way to make it MORE than worth their while.

Then take it from there and start deploying your compromise options from above.

The Nuclear Option

If your landlord isn’t receptive to the idea of Airbnb here's what you can do.

Find out who their legal counsel is.  Yes, time to get lawyers involved.

In 90% of cases, landlords will have SOME legal counsel that they work with on contracts, insurance, tenants rights, etc.

Either contact their lawyer and state your case, or seek out your own lawyer to explain your case.

As legal counsel to your landlord, it is their duty to represent the landlord’s best interest.

If there is an opportunity to make them MORE money, and is within the local laws, they’re going to obligated to present it to the landlord for you.

It is much harder for a landlord to say “no” when his or her own legal counsel says, “This is legal and it can work”.

Lastly, many landlords are getting hip to Airbnb and learning how to do it on their own or possibly outsourcing the entire operation to a management company.  So be ready for that kind of response as well.

We hope this lesson helped give you some confidence in approaching your landlord, and don't forget...with neighbors, you can use the same tactics.  

But remember: Some landlords just won't find it a worthwhile thing for them.  And it's in their full right to deny your request.  

So, you might find that you need to move or get a new place to list on Airbnb.  But better that than to do it behind your landlord's back.

Want more advice from people like Symon!? Head over to our post on the Top 10 Resources for Aibnb Host or visit 

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