Many homeowners and tenants consider Airbnb sublets to be a convenient way to help cover expenses and make extra money, but there’s little consideration for the serious problems that can occur and impact a neighborhood. That’s why groups of neighbors often advocate for regulations on short term rentals.
Improper Airbnb subletting can have a negative effect on a community in several ways that pit neighbor against neighbor.
Noise and Disturbance
It’s not uncommon for Airbnb sublets to be a source of late-night noise or unusual disturbance in a neighborhood, most often when the “host” is not present.
Many of the renters who use these properties for less than 30 days at a time are on vacation, having parties, or renting the property for an event like a bachelor party or post-game event; whereas they want to let loose and have a good time, the neighbors want their peace and quiet. As a Lousiville, KY resident in Old Louisville, where homes are close together, puts it, “Every weekend, the occupants are different. One time it could be people in for a family reunion that pose no problem, and the next weekend, it could be 15 college students in for a bachelor party or the Bourbon Tour.” As a result, she claims she cannot even sit in her backyard without potentially smelling marijuana or hearing bad language she doesn’t want her kids exposed to. Even though the city has a new ordinance that regulates short term rentals, it is unclear who to call to complain.
Things really get out of hand when short term guests take over a property and produce more than just raucous noise. You might have a “sex party” going on next door, and want to strap a pillow to your head to not hear the loud noises floating out from the deck. You might even find intimate remnants of these affairs thrown into your yard. One couple in Calgary, AL came home to broken furniture, shattered glass, used condoms, and semen everywhere – and $75,000 in damages. Neighbors reported that over 100 people were in attendance.
What about overflowing trash bins filled with empty beer cans? Vomit fanned across your sidewalk? Or what about when packages mysteriously go missing from your front porch?
Parking and Occupancy Concerns
Another problem with Airbnb sublets is that they can cause crowding issues. Airbnb hosts may overstate their capacity far past the legal limit. In New York CIty, State Senator Jeff Klein has a crusade against small homes offered as lodging to more than 13 people and even specifically offered for movie sets or parties. These “rentals of doom” are a recipe for disaster.
Where street parking on a city street is the norm, larger groups of short term renters aggravate the problem of finding a spot. This is true in big cities like San Francisco or Chicago, as well as in smaller ones like Alexandria, VA.
In addition, you can have problems with crowding on elevators, in hallways, and in other common spaces when there are more people in the building than the property was designed for. This might not sound all that bad, until you end up trapped in an elevator with someone you never saw before, or you’re fuming over losing the last parking space to a guy with two 24-packs of beer.
A Sense of Community
It just makes sense that people who are visiting a property for a week or weekend aren’t going to have the same regard for neighbors and their properties that someone does who stays in a property year-round. When the host is present, the problem might be minimal, but the trend is toward unhosted rentals. Issues with litter or street blockage can be symptoms of improper subletting that has spiraled out of control.
Some local authorities are doing what they can to regulate short-term rentals and try to preserve the character of neighborhoods. The rules on short-term rentals depend on where you live, but landlords can always write regulations or outright bans into their leases to prevent tenants from turning around and subletting their own rentals as Airbnb sublets.
The problem is that not all tenants obey these rules, even when they’re written into a lease. Landlords should use available monitoring tools to make sure their properties are not subject to illegal Airbnb sublets. It’s a way to preserve peace in the neighborhood and protect an investment in a property at the same time.