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Airbnb can be legally problematic

It's no secret that many people across the country have been sprucing up their residences and offering them up for short-term use using Airbnb and other hosting platforms. This has led to some tricky legal issues for both property owners and renters who are hosting.

Regulations that govern whether or not you are allowed to rent or sublet your space are generally different from city. You are responsible for familiarizing yourself with the relevant statutes for your particular city or county before becoming a host. Here in California, the consequences for flouting these regulations vary, but generally negate the desirability of short-term hosting if they are brought to bear. In nearly every instance, operating within the law will entail paying some form of tax on the additional income from the rental.

Also, for those who are tenants themselves, it is vital to examine a lease to make sure that it is not forbidden to engage in short-term hosting. If a lease restricts the use of service like Airbnb, listing your place anyway may be grounds for your landlord to evict you. Depending on the situation and your relationship with the landlord, it is possible that you may be able to negotiate an allowance into your lease if such a restriction is in place. If you are able to make a good case to your landlord, lease amendments are generally possible. It is highly inadvisable to engage in short-term hosting without proper approval and understanding of the renting and subletting regulations in your city or your lease.

If you are need help getting a handle on the relevant laws and lease clauses, you may consider enlisting the help of an experienced attorney. With proper guidance, you can set yourself up for success and pre-empt many problems before they have a chance to arise.

Source: The Press Enterprise, "How to navigate legal pitfalls of using Airbnb," Scott Ditfurth, Oct. 24, 2016

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