Can You Airbnb a Condo?
Invest in Real Estate,  Short Term Rental

Can You Airbnb a Condo?

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‘Can you Airbnb a condo?’ This is a common question we get. Lucky for you, we know all too well whether you can Airbnb a condo or not. We’ve successfully done it for years now, but have also encountered pushback and threats. We will teach you how to overcome both.

I’m sure since you’re reading this that you’re aware, but a condo is a unit that is either in a larger building, a townhouse, or part of a larger neighborhood. The way that it differs from a traditional single family home is that it is typically overseen by an HOA (homeowners association) which means they have a say in what you do, who you rent to, and we’ve even seen some that limit the color of shutters and types of grass you can have.

If you’re interested in signing up for Airbnb, be sure to use our link! We’ll receive a referral bonus and you’ll get $40

Perks of Airbnb-ing a Condo

For You

There are many perks of having a condo listed on Airbnb. First, it’s a property that you can own and build equity in unlike trying to Airbnb Arbitrage an apartment. This also means you get the tax benefits of depreciation.

Secondly, there’s generally less competition among investors, especially those looking to Airbnb. This means more deals for you!

Depending on the size of your condo, you’ll also be getting singles, couples, or small families. We prefer smaller spaces because they aren’t as appealing to guests looking to host parties and larger groups.

Additionally, having a condo as an Airbnb can take a lot of the headache off your plate as an owner or manager. Condos generally don’t have lawns to maintain which is something you’d have to worry about and inform the guests of every time the landscapers come by if you have a property where you have to worry about that.

Also, exterior maintenance such as siding, roofs, etc. are often covered by condo associations. Yes, you are paying an HOA fee, so you are paying for the maintenance in a way. However, if you’re just starting out, and even if you aren’t, a $150 monthly HOA is much easier to stomach than a $30k bill for a new roof.

And, finally, condo associations typically offer neighborhood amenities that you may not get in other similarly priced properties. Some of these things may be a neighborhood pool, tennis & pickleball courts, a fitness center, etc. Good luck getting some of these things in a single family home.

Also, don’t forget the financial benefit! That’s one of the biggest reasons to start an Airbnb or short-term rental in the first place. If you’re interested in finding out how much more you can make on Airbnb vs. long-term renting be sure to check out our free income calculator.

For the HOA

You are probably surprised to hear that Airbnb can be a benefit to your condo association. One big benefit is more active owners. Airbnb owners and managers are typically more hands-on than the average long-term landlord which also means that they are invested in what the HOA’s improvement and maintenance plans are.

Similarly, short-term rental owners have to appeal to multiple people in a week or a month. Long-term rentals only have to worry about appealing to someone once a year at most. With short-term rentals, this means more effort on curb appeal and cleaner properties which not only benefits the guests, but it also benefits the neighborhood and the other owners.

Another added benefit is the financial gain. If your HOA allows for short-term or even medium-term rentals in the by-laws, this means more income for owners. If you’re in the market for a home, wouldn’t you pay a little extra for the option to potentially rent it out in the future? This applies to investors and homeowners as both are going to take into account the ability to make more money on the property in the future. This will drive values up on other units because all the comparable comps are higher priced. Therefore, the value of everyone’s homes in the HOA is higher.

Can you Airbnb a condo?

We have three different condos that we own that we have actively listed on Airbnb.

The short answer is: …it depends.

Don’t worry, we’ll get into the long answer now.

It ultimately depends on your HOA’s bylaws. This is something you should absolutely look into before buying a condo in an HOA that you are planning to short-term rent on Airbnb.

Many HOA bylaws and regulations limit shorter stays or limit ‘business’ activities, which would include short-term rentals. This is unless you’re in a vacation area that typically has Airbnb’s and other short term rentals. Many vacation areas not only allow it, but tend to promote it in one way or another.

If the HOA that manages your condo has limits for lease agreements and minimum stays, that means you likely can’t have a traditional short term rental like an Airbnb. We will explain some workarounds in just a moment.

However, if your bylaws allow it, then you’re all set. Just be sure that you’re operating within the rules and being a quality host. All it takes is a few complaints to the HOA for them to try to implement rules limiting Airbnb’s in your condo association.

Two of our condos allow Airbnb. Unfortunately, one didn’t allow it. Continue reading to find out how we found a workaround.

If You Can’t Airbnb Your Condo

The good news is that you have three options if your condo association doesn’t allow Airbnb’s or short-term rentals:

  1. Give up
  2. Find a workaround
  3. Negotiate a deal

Now let’s break down each of these options.

Give Up

This is pretty self explanatory. Sometimes dealing with condo associations, NIMBY neighbors, and Jerry the HOA president isn’t worth the damn headache. In this case, cut your losses. You can live in it yourself, sell it, or offer it as a long term rental and rest relatively easy without having to deal with your HOA headaches.

Move on to the next deal and if you’re planning to Airbnb it, make sure that it’s not in an HOA that limits it, or in a city that doesn’t allow it.

Find a Workaround

This is what we did. One of our HOA’s has this specific verbiage in their bylaws:

Leasing.  Units may be leased for a period of six months or longer, provided the occupancy is only by the lessee and his family.  The respective “family units” shall not be rented by the owners thereof for any period less than thirty days.

Of course, our HOA tried to use this to keep us from being able to Airbnb our condo. Luckily, reading is a strong suit of mine, and the bylaws are convoluted as hell. We argue that we are allowed to Airbnb as long as we operate as a medium-term rental.

A medium-term rental is right between a short-term rental and a long-term rental. This means anywhere from a month to 6 months and is typically for traveling professionals like nurses, contract workers, etc.

Many HOAs will have specific timelines that a unit can be rented. Typically, this is the biggest limiting factor with a short-term rental. By transitioning to a medium-term rental you’ll likely be able to operate within the rules of the condo association while having an Airbnb.

Another limitation that condo associations have with Airbnbs is lease requirements. Many HOAs have lease term requirements in their bylaws. One workaround for this would be to have all guests sign a lease agreement that is for the minimum term allowed by the HOA. Make sure the lease states that it can be broken by either party with no notice.

There are any number of other issues that could arise through your condo bylaws that limit Airbnb operations. Unfortunately we can’t cover all of them but the two examples above should give you an idea of some ways to navigate around them.

Negotiate a Deal

This is the path less traveled. If you can’t find a workaround and you don’t want to give up, then negotiating a deal might be your only option when it comes to having your condo as an Airbnb.

*It’s important to note: you should only use this option if your HOA and condo association has disallowed Airbnbs and they have you dead to rights*

There is plenty of flexibility if you have to go this route. Your only limitation is your ability to ask, negotiate, and your creativity. So what do I mean when I say negotiate a deal?

Here’s how it works: Go ahead and admit that you’re doing something against the bylaws. Now that’s out of the way. You need to find a weak spot that will allow you to continue anyway.

Typically this means financially.

Condo associations are always crunching numbers and have some unexpected maintenance issue pop up or some other unforeseeable expense. This is where you come in.

You admit that you’re breaking a rule, but that you’d like to find out what the fine for doing so is. If there isn’t a guideline for that, you get to help come up with one that should be mutually beneficial for you as an Airbnb owner and the condo association.

It’s important to think about the feasibility of an added cost. If you’re scraping by with $200-300 of cash flow, a $150 monthly fine isn’t going to spell financial freedom for you from this property. On the other hand, if you’re netting $1500/month then paying a 10% fine would be an ideal way to keep the gravy train rolling.

The hard part is that this agreement could end based on changes in the HOA board, complaints from other owners, etc. So don’t plan on this working forever unless you can work out some long term solution or agreement.

Wrap-up

We think that using Airbnb for condos can be a great investment opportunity. In an ideal world, you will be able to do so without any issues from your HOA. Unfortunately, we don’t always live in an ideal world so you may have to come up with a solution. That may be finding loopholes to operate within or working out a deal with the HOA so you can Airbnb your condo.

2 Comments

    • James

      I think plenty of owners and HOAs in vacation spots with sky high values because of AirBNB’s would disagree with you, Bud. Your eloquent argument has converted me, that’s for sure! Now we just need to get your word out to the masses.

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