If you have been secretly renting out a room or space in your rental property using Airbnb without your landlord’s permission, you may be wondering whether your landlord can find out.
In this article, I am going to cover some of the ways that a landlord may discover your Airbnb activities and what you can do if your landlord learns about them.
To summarize what we’ll cover (and to help you navigate the article), below is the list of ways that your landlord may discover your Airbnb activities:
- Periodic Inspections
- Repair Appointments
- Neighbor Complaints
- Scanning Local Airbnb Listings
- Local Government Notices
- What To Do If Your Landlord Finds Out About Your Airbnb
Ok – we’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get into it!
The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified legal professional before making any decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.
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Many landlords require periodic inspections of their properties.
Often they are done once per quarter, every 6 months or annually. It depends on the terms of your lease and your landlord’s policies.
Regardless of the frequency, the purpose is to make sure that the property is being maintained in good condition and to discover any issues with the property that may need attention. But it is also an opportunity for your landlord (or their property manager) to discover any violations of the lease.
So if they see a room or space that is being occupied by someone who is not on the lease, that is a big red flag. They may talk to that person and find out that they are an Airbnb guest.
If the room is not occupied at the time of the inspection, but is nicely furnished and looks like it is being used for an Airbnb (i.e., the bed, sheets, pillows, and other furnishings are high quality and attractive, but the closet is empty and the room does not appear to have a dedicated tenant living in it), that can also be a sign that you are renting that room out on Airbnb.
If your landlord is coming in to repair a broken appliance or other item in the unit, they may notice the same things that I mentioned above during that repair visit.
If they send a technician, they may report that the unit seems to be catering to Airbnb guests (depending on whether the landlord has asked the tech to see if anything seems off). Many techs have close business relationships with landlords because the landlords often have preferred techs that they use all the time.
Your neighbors may not be thrilled about you having a steady stream of Airbnb guests coming through your unit, especially if they are rowdy or cause trouble. As you can imagine, it’s a fairly simple matter to complain to the landlord about this activity.
If your place is part of an HOA, the HOA may have rules prohibiting Airbnb arrangements in their community. It’s actually pretty common.
If they discover that you are violating their rules, they will almost certainly be reaching out to you and your landlord about it.
Scanning Local Airbnb Listings
Some landlords may have properties that they rent out in the traditional way, but they may also have properties that they rent out through Airbnb.
If this is the case, then they will want to be aware of their competition and will likely be scanning Airbnb listing to see what their competitors are offering (and what price points they are using). If your listing pops up and they look into it, that could signal to them that you are using Airbnb without permission.
Even if they are not renting out using Airbnb currently, they may be thinking about it or may just want to see if any of their tenants are using Airbnb against the rules of their lease.
Local Government Notices
Many state and local governments frown on Airbnb and some even prohibit it outright.
If they find out that you are renting out your space in violation of the law, they will in all likelihood be reaching out to your landlord.
What to Do If Your Landlord Finds Out About Your Airbnb
If your landlord discovers your Airbnb activities, you have a few options. First, you should review your lease to make sure that it is in fact prohibited. If it’s not, then you are probably fine. But if your lease prohibits it, then you have a few options.
First, you can apologize and immediately discontinue the activity. If there’s any damage to the unit caused by your Airbnb activities, you can offer to fix it at your expense. If you have been a good tenant otherwise, they may let it slide.
If you don’t want to stop, you may be able to negotiate with your landlord and offer them a higher rent or some other compensation to make it worth their while. Again, no guarantees, but a landlord is basically in it to make money, so this may be something that they are willing to do.
Of course, if your activity violates the law or HOA rules, then the landlord doesn’t really have a choice in terms of letting it continue.
If they are upset enough about your violation of the lease to want to evict you, then it’s time to hire a lawyer to see what your available defenses are.
So there you have it – a clear answer to how your landlord may find out about your Airbnb activities and what you can do if this happens. Hope this has been helpful and happy renting!