Airbnb targets large-scale residential landlords with new US initiative

George Sell George Sell Uploaded 15 September 2016


US: Airbnb has unveiled an intitiative under which landlords stand to profit from their tenants subletting through the sharing economy platform.

The initiative, called the Airbnb Friendly Buildings Program, will let building owners sign up to work with Airbnb and tenants on allowing home-sharing in their properties. The landlord can stipulate whatever rules they are comfortable with, and take a small share of their tenant's host revenues.

Provided they operate in a jurisdiction where short-term rental laws clearly permit it, landlords can apply for the program. Once accepted, the owner then decides the terms under which tenants can rent out their homes and submits them to Airbnb, as well as amending its tenants' leases. Eligible tenants can then sign up for their building's program through Airbnb, and become part of the regular reports the company sends to the landlord.

Airbnb will pay both the hosts and their landlords, as well as collecting and remitting taxes where applicable. It says building owners will typically take between five and 15 per cent of their tenants' earnings through the program, and is running developer workshops to explain the concept and how it works.

The initiative is being led by Jaja Jackson, Airbnb's director of global multifamily housing partnerships. The company launched a pilot scheme in April, with between 1,100 and 1,500 units now signed up. It says the landlords involved vary widely, from small 'mom and pop'-owned properties, to large companies that manage 50,000 units.

The company says: "When you enroll your building in the Airbnb Friendly Buildings Program, you'll allow home sharing within your desired constraints. In an addendum to your standard lease or building rules, you and participating hosts can agree on the percentage of the hosts' profit you'll receive and other conditions. You can also create safety and neighbourly rules that participating residents must follow in order to home share. Airbnb's platform then requires each host and guest to accept those rules."

Intriguingly, Airbnb is also working on home designs incorporating features that will make properties more suitable for renting on its platform. Last month, it launched Samara, a new division led by co-founder Joe Gebbia focused on design and architecture. Its first project is Yoshino Cedar House, a home designed in collaboration with Japanese architect Go Hasegawa that will be rentable via Airbnb. The Samara design team is working with the Airbnb Friendly Buildings program to help owners and developers implement home-sharing friendly elements.

The Friendly Buildings Program is only for landlords with long-term tenants, and not for those who wish to operate short-term rental-only units. Airbnb is also restricting the program to market-rate units, excluding rent-controlled and subsidised housing.

The launch comes as a survey by the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) - the trade body for large-scale US landlords - found that 43 per cent of its members said their tenants listed homes on short-term rental sites.

The survey also found that 33 per cent are open to a partnership program along the lines of the Friendly Buildings Program.


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