Airbnb launches first hosting platform for apartment tenants

Airbnb partners with several large landlords and management companies to list designated apartment buildings where tenants are allowed to offer short-term sublets on the site.

The company said Wednesday that a new page on its website will list so-called Airbnb-compatible buildings, which will give tenants the option of hosting their apartments the way landlords can.

Typically, rental properties prohibit tenants from subletting for short stays.

For starters, Airbnb features 175 apartment buildings in more than 25 major markets, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Denver, Seattle, and Phoenix. Some cities, such as New York and Washington, DC, are not available due to local restrictions on short-term rentals.

The platform will help tenants host their rentals and help buildings attract tenants who may want to host. The amount tenants could earn will vary.

“It depends on the building, depends on the location, there are a lot of different assumptions,” Nathan Blecharczyk, co-founder of Airbnb.

With apartment rents rising in recent years, along with rising house and other prices, tenants are increasingly looking for ways to supplement their income to make their monthly payments. Rents are starting to fall, but are still up 10% from a year ago, according to Apartment List.

Last year, rents increased by more than 15% compared to the previous year.

Airbnb’s new website page will also feature a calculator to show how much money the renter can potentially earn per month. The calculation evolves according to the number of rooms and the number of nights that each building allows, as well as the potential rents requested, taking into account the amenities of the building.

Apartment buildings may also charge the primary tenant a fee of up to 20% of the price for each use of Airbnb. For buildings that have been in test mode so far, Airbnb said tenants have hosted an average of nine nights per month with an average income of $900 per month.

All guests in participating buildings must be the primary resident, and buildings may restrict the number of nights per month that the apartment can be sublet. It’s usually between 80 and 120 nights a year. The restrictions, which can be applied since the transactions all take place on the portal, are intended to prevent investors from participating and subletting the full-time apartments.

The building owner or management company also has the right to review listings before they go live and to disable a listing if it does not meet building standards. They can also impose government ID on all potential subletters.

Equity Residential and UDR, which are apartment real estate investment trusts, or REITs, and Greystar, the largest apartment management company in the United States, are among the big names offering apartments with accommodation privileges on the new Airbnb platform.

“We believe this platform will provide the right tools for landlords and residents to effectively manage short-term rental activity without affecting the overall housing supply,” a Greystar representative said. “We are collaborating with Airbnb on this innovative approach to participate in the 21st the sharing economy of the century in a thoughtful way.”

CNBC producer Lisa Rizzolo contributed to this story.

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