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Top 3 Legal Questions If You Rent or Airbnb Your Home

By George Khoury, Esq. on June 28, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

If you provide temporary rentals via services like Airbnb and VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner), not being aware of the legal liabilities can result in severe financial consequences. For instance, if someone is injured in your rental, or you fail to abide by local laws, the financial liability could significantly eclipse any of the monetary benefits.

However, being informed and prepared can help to ensure that even when things go wrong, you won't be left in the lurch. Below are the top three legal questions people ask when they want to rent out their home to short term renters.

1. Can I Rent Out My Rental On Airbnb?

If you rent or lease your home, your ability to use a service like Airbnb will be limited by the agreement with your landlord and local laws. Similarly, if you own your own home, condo, or duplex, you may have to abide by a HOA that limits your ability to provide short-term rentals.

Often, local laws prohibit or limit the ability to offer short-term rentals. In certain cities, and locales, ordinances will either limit the number of days, or require permitting, for home owners to provide short-term rentals. For example, New York City prohibits short-term rentals/subletting of less than 30 days, and San Francisco requires Airbnb users register with the city.

2. Death at Airbnb: Who's Liable?

When someone dies, or is injured, in a short-term rental, there could potentially be liability to the owner. Generally, rental providers must ensure their properties are safe for renters. Dangerous conditions could expose owners and landlords to legal liability for injuries caused by those conditions.

Although Airbnb does provide some limited insurance coverage to users on both ends, making sure that coverage is sufficient, or supplementing it with additional coverages, is smart, and an easy way to ensure peace of mind. Make sure your insurer knows you are providing short-term rentals when applying for coverage, as many policies will not cover this unless explicitly approved.

3. How to Sell Your House If Someone Is Renting It?

If you want to sell your home while it is currently being rented, you may run into some logistical issues. Depending on the agreement with your renters, your ability to show the home to prospective buyers may be limited, as well as your ability to stage and control the property's interior appearance. Additionally, the value may be affected as well since any purchaser will also be purchasing the property subject to the rental agreement's terms.

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