Are you renting out your apartment, condominium or single family property using Airbnb? Then you’re probably breaking agreements and the law. I’m writing this today because I’m currently dealing with a multi-unit property in Jamaica Plain wherein one of the tenants has been renting out his unit using Airbnb and, as a result, he’s being evicted. This tenant is most likely breaking his rental agreement, I wasn’t involved in the leasing of this unit so I don’t have first hand knowledge of the lease agreement, because there’s a clause in most rental agreements relating to occupancy, transfer and subleases. I use the Standard Form Apartment Lease (Simplified Self-Extending) provided by the Greater Boston Real Estate Board and Paragraph 13 of that lease states:
“13. OCCUPANCY, TRANSFER AND SUBLEASES The Apartment may be occupied only by the Tenant, the husband or wife of the Tenant, any children now living with the Tenant, or any children born to the Tenant after this Lease is signed. In addition, the Tenant cannot transfer any rights under this Lease to any other person, nor can the Tenant sublease the Apartment or any part of it to any other person. Although the Tenant is allowed to have guests and other temporary visitors, the Tenant must in all cases abide by the provisions of this paragraph unless the Tenant has received permission to the contrary from the Landlord.”
So you want to argue the “Although the Tenant is allowed to have guests and other temporary visitors” citation, huh? Let’s be honest. Are you abiding by the spirit of that citation in the context of the entire paragraph? No, you’re absolutely not. And I don’t think that there’s a judge at the Boston Housing Court that would agree with you. Yes, Massachusetts is a very “pro-tenant” state but even this goes too far.
If you’re thinking about renting out your housing unit then you’re probably breaking rental agreements, condominium agreements and local zoning codes. Tenants, in my opinion, are the most egregious violators of agreements and laws because they would be violating their lease agreements and condominium by-laws, if their rental unit is within a condominium association, and local zoning codes. I think condominium unit owners would be next in the hierarchy of egregious violators because condominium unit owners would most likely be violating their condominium by-laws.
Insurance, we haven’t even mentioned insurance yet. What happens if your unit is trashed by a person that you’ve rented to and you have to file an insurance claim? Do you think that there’s a clause in your insurance policy regarding the short-term rental of your unit using services like Airbnb? Probably not. But then again you could fail to mention that the tenants that you’ve rented to using Airbnb were the cause of your loss and, in doing so, you could be inciting insurance fraud.
If I were to think about a type of home that would qualify as a good candidate for Airbnb use then I’d have to say that a detached single family home without a mortgage and without a homeowners association with the appropriate type of insurance would be the least egregious type of violator of agreements and laws but, even then, those homeowners would probably be violating local zoning codes. A homeowner named Richard Cope at 85 Bayside Road, Quincy has been fined twice by the City of Quincy for operating an illegal short-term rental operation as was reported by The Patriot Ledger last fall. The City of Boston, as of last summer, was delaying its opinion on Airbnb and, its competitor, VRBO until it figures out a way to make money off of “hosts” as was reported by Boston.com last summer.
You can use Google to search for Airbnb rape or Airbnb parties or Airbnb theft. I challenge you to make an argument that the risk outweighs the reward for using Airbnb after reading a few of those stories. I don’t think that you can.