Up In the Air | National Apartment Association

Up In the Air

Five years ago I heard about this thing called Airbnb. I was staying in San Diego for a few days by myself after a work conference and decided to try it out. 

I arrived at my Airbnb, my host showed me inside…and then she stayed. And I realized I hadn’t quite read the listing correctly. I wasn’t renting out this apartment for three days, I was staying in this woman’s spare bedroom.

Understandably, I was a little concerned, immediately filing this under the “Things I’ll Never Tell Mom” category. Still, I tried to keep an open mind. 

The woman gave me a tour of her kitchen, which was brimming with various green juices/ingredients to make green juices, and then her bathroom, which included an alarming amount of “homeopathic” ointments. 

When I went to lock the front door behind us, she said, “I never look the door. I find that if you put positive energy out there, you get the same in return.”

Mmmmk.

Despite my questionable dive into Airbnb, I made it out alive and have gone on to use the site for every single trip I’ve since gone on without a single problem. Also, I make sure I have the place to myself.

I love it, but I’m also not an apartment owner. Most apartment leases do not allow sublets; however, the number of residents who are looking to strike it rich in today’s sharing economy through sites such as Airbnb continues to climb.

It’s troubling for many in the industry, but there’s also no clear solution. So if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?

For the first time Airbnb is publicly revealing the details of how it plans to make its home-sharing business available to multifamily housing owners nationwide.

Speaking at the recent NMHC OpTech Conference, Airbnb’s Vice President of Landlord Relationships JaJa Jackson says the flexible plan that is still being formalized would potentially include a 10 percent to 15 percent revenue share for apartment owners and would emphasize greater transparency for owners, hosts (those residents who home-share) and guests (those who use Airbnb to book short-term stays).

No word on the volume of homeopathic lotions at each location.

The news was met by apartment industry professionals in attendance with a mixture of anger, skepticism and enthusiasm for the program’s potential. However, Jackson insisted that Airbnb is not facilitating sub-lets. He says it’s in the business of home-sharing, which carries different roles and responsibilities for the resident and the guest compared to sub-letting. Home-sharing is a lighter transaction, he says. There is no transfer of rights.

Which sounds good, on paper.

The program has three key points:

1. Transparency: The owner will know what’s happening, when it’s happening, where it’s happening, who’s coming into the building and how long those guests are staying.

2. Control: Owners can craft their own agreement to their liking. They can determine which guests are approved and how; which of their residents will be allowed to participate; and perhaps determine which units in the building can play host, perhaps limiting these guests to one specific floor.

3. Revenue Sharing: Owners can determine what “cut” they get from the transaction. Airbnb, which currently earns 3 percent of the transaction, suggests 10 percent to 15 percent, Jackson says.

Jackson suggests that owners use this new-found revenue and announce to their residents where it came from and that it’s being invested in amenity upgrades. “This way,” Jackson says, “the entire community benefits from the profits.” 

And I can lock my door at night.

For more, check out “Here To Stay?” in the December issue of units Magazine

Lauren Boston is NAA’s Staff Writer and Manager, Public Relations. Unsurprisingly, she writes a lot—most often for units Magazine and as a weekly blogger for APTly Spoken. She enjoys making people laugh, sharing embarrassing childhood stories and being the (self-proclaimed) Voice of the Apartment Industry. She welcomes feedback, unless it’s negative (in which case, please keep it to yourself).