Ask LH: Can I Sublet My Apartment On AirBnB?

Dear Lifehacker, If I were renting an apartment or house and I want to supplement my income, what's the rule on sub-letting a room or car spot? Is it illegal to put the property on AirBnB, or just frowned upon by the owner? What's a polite way of asking for permission? Regards, Opportunistic Renter

Rental picture from Shutterstock

Dear OR,

The rise of online lodging services like AirBnB has made it easier than ever for tenants to moonlight as property managers. However, just because it's easy doesn't mean it's legal.

As a general rule of thumb, you are not allowed to sub-let a dwelling without the landlord’s written consent. If you do it in secret, you will be breaching the terms of your tenancy agreement and could face eviction.

Sub-letting approval is at the landlord's discretion, but they cannot reject your request out of hand. Instead, they are supposed to carefully consider the proposal first. This may involve the landlord interviewing potential sub-tenants and requesting their past rental history.

There are a number of pros and cons to sub-letting your apartment. Obviously, you will be paying less rent under this agreement, which translates to more disposable income in your pocket. However, you will ultimately be responsible for the actions of the sub–tenant — with all that implies.

The landlord has no contractual arrangements with this person and will not chase them up if they fail to pay rent or cause damage to the property. Instead, any problems they cause will fall on your shoulders alone. It will be up to you to seek restitution from the subletter, which could involve costly court proceedings.

As head tenant, you also take on some of a landlord's responsibilities when it comes to the sub-tenant. For example, any requested repairs to their room would be submitted to you, not the landlord. Failure to make the necessary repairs (or to contact the landlord on their behalf) could lead to a compensation claim against you.

Naturally, you will be more likely to succeed in this venture if you can find a long-term sub-letter. Attempting to go through the same process every other week is unlikely to fly with your landlord — in addition to constant paperwork, you will be subjecting their property to a string of strangers and extra wear-and-tear. Unless you can work out some kind of special agreement, AirBnB is probably out.

Our advice is to find a suitable sub-tenant first, then write to your landlord or real estate agent for their consent to sub-let the property. Your request should include a draft agreement with the name of the proposed sub-tenant. It's also a good idea to enclose proof that they are of good character and can actually pay rent on time. Good luck!

Cheers Lifehacker

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Comments

    Then the landlord finds out, shuts it down and you end up with angry people who have arrived in the city and no where to stay.

    In Victoria, subletting is defined as a tenant staying longer than 60 days. The owner also cannot decline a sublet request without a good reason. Technically, hosting guests on short term stays would be considered running a business (not a sublet as defined by the act), and you are allowed to do this in your rented premises, as long its your principal residence. The landlord can still send you an evection notice, which you could then request a hearing with VCAT to have them decide. Its still a big grey area for VCAT, so think carefully on deciding how to proceed as they can also rule in favour for the landlord.

    All in all, its best to contact consumer affairs Victoria (or relevant state body) to confirm, and also probably best to get the ok by the landlord to avoid any potential problems.

      I am a landlord in WA and would not mind my tenant subletting on AirBnB. Would this be legal?

      I am a landlord in WA and would not mind my tenant subletting on AirBnB. Would this be legal?

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