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    Default How do You Know Your Tenant Is Subletting with AirBNB?

    Itís hard enough when youíre screening the actual tenants ó having complete strangers on your property is a straight-up no-go.
    AirBNB, and similar services like VRBO and wimdu, allow someone to rent out a property they control by the night. This is great for homeowners looking to get some extra income while theyíre on vacation, but itís a huge pain in the butt for property managers. Even though almost every lease agreement in the country specifies that a rental property may not be used for subletting, itís becoming an increasingly common problem across the country.

    Discovering the Sublet
    Itís difficult to know if one of your tenants is subletting through a service like AirBNB or VRBO. These sites donít list their property by address, so you canít just type in your property addresses into a search bar and see whether or not theyíre listed, or set up any type of Google Alert. Instead, you name an area and get a vague map of roughly where the options are ó not enough to nail it down as one of your properties. And while the sites require a hostís name, thereís no guarantee that your tenant will put their name down in that field.

    The easiest way to discover a tenant thatís illegally subletting is by talking to the neighbors. We already keep neighbors in the loop, asking them to report any suspicious activity to us. Asking them to call in if they see a lot of different people coming in and out, especially later at night, isnít a big deal to them ó we do offer a modest reward if any actual issue is uncovered through one of their tips. With their help, itís much easier to know when and where to look for evidence of subletting.

    If You Find a Tenant Subletting
    The laws surrounding subletting are currently in a little bit of flux. Itís completely certain that itís a violation of your lease agreement, which means you can commence eviction proceedings the moment you have proof that itís happening. But a recent New York State court case has called into question whether or not the offense of subletting is Ďcurable.í In other words, if the tenant stops and agrees not to start again, can they claim the problem has been taken care of and thus avoid eviction?

    The judge in the New York case decided that illegal subletting was curable ó meaning that thereís no real long-term consequence to getting caught unless youíve already been caught doing it once before. That law currently only applies in New York, but it did set a precedent that courts in the rest of the country are able to look to should the issue come up on their docket. That said, eviction is your best option ó even if it doesnít work the first time, you at least can be confident that if it crops up again, itís the last time youíll have to deal with itÖat least, with this tenant.

    Why It Matters
    Some of you may be asking, ďSo what? Theyíre subletting, who cares?Ē The answer is that most landlord insurance policies specifically do not apply to residences that are being sublet ó so if, for example, one of those sublet-ees manages to break their ankle in your shower and sue you, your insurance company will reply with Ďsorry, your insurance policy doesnít actually exist because of the subletting, good luck with that, goodbye.í Suddenly, youíre on the hook for the medical bills of some complete stranger that you donít have any kind of a contract with, and no insurance to help pay them. Definitely not a situation you want to end up in.
    If you have a clue that a tenant might be subletting on one of your properties, donít hesitate ó get to the bottom of it immediately. Itís not a circumstance that any landlord should be any part of.


 

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