Should You AirBnB Your NYC Apartment?

airbnb-logoYou pay one of the highest premiums in the world to own or rent in New York City, so why shouldn’t you earn a little of it back? If the thought of owning a bed and breakfast has always appealed to you, but not full-time (or maybe you’re definitely not a chef), opting to host via a program like AirBnB can be a great way to test out the waters. You can choose to rent out (short term) anything from a room to an entire home.

However, especially in NYC, this can be an issue if you rent. As an owner, you’re free to do (almost) whatever you like, but your lease agreement probably has pretty strict regulations against subletting even short term—especially if you won’t even be in the property. Before going any further, as a renter you need to check your lease agreement and pinpoint specifications about subleasing. If you get the go ahead, then you can start seriously considering the pros and cons.

A case for hosting

If you choose to stay in your apartment while leasing out a room to a traveler, this can be a great way to enjoy cultural exchange. You might meet a new friend, get to learn about a completely new culture, and if you like playing tour guide for the best city in the world this might be right up your alley. You can charge pretty much whatever you like per night (although AirBnB provides guidelines), so you can even get a little help with your rent to boot.

If you travel often or have a vacation planned, renting out your entire NYC apartment can be a fantastic way to know you’ll be getting payed for an empty place. There are also options for housing swaps which many people are more comfortable with. If you happen to find a home or property that the owners aren’t using where you’re traveling, and they’ll be in New York on their own vacation, this can be a win-win for everyone. Nobody is paying extra for room and board for their holiday, which is often the most expensive part of a getaway.

What they don’t tell you

The contracts with reputable sites like AirBnB are pretty iron clad, and renters have to provide a credit card with a generous amount of buffer before they even make a reservation. However, you can’t really guarantee that a person isn’t a criminal, whether violent or not. The simple truth is you don’t know who you’re letting into your life and your apartment, even if they have scores of glowing reviews from previous hosts. Of course, someone with a solid track record is probably less likely to do a 180, but you never know.

You may also find out that you don’t like having strangers in your personal space as much as you’d like. If this is new territory for you, offer shorter stays to get into the swing of things. Also make sure your insurance is up to par—you’ll likely want to add on some additional coverage whether you decide to become a host or not since most homeowners and renters packages aren’t very comprehensive on their own.

So whether you’re more the couch surfing type or high-end vacation swapping, if you’re up for giving the hotels a run for their money, one of these options may be for you. Just make sure you remove any irreplaceable and very high end pieces before welcoming your new guest. There’s no reason to tempt fate.

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About Anna Johansson

Anna is a freelance writer and researcher from the Olympia, WA area who loves to obsess about weird topics and then write about them. When she isn't writing, she is outside on her bike and contemplating her eventual trip to graduate school.
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