I Rent My Apartment Out for $200 a Night, And I Feel Great About It

Logan:  How’d you get in this game?

Anon: I was spending a lot of weekends at my girlfriend’s place, and I liked the idea of making money. So I’d stay at her place for a long weekend, and rent my place out on Airbnb, and I’d make like 500 bucks. And I thought … wow, this is real money.

Logan: How did you know how much to list your apartment for?

Anon: Well, I undercut it in the very beginning. I posted it for 100 bucks, just to get some people in there, get some positive reviews. Then my first BIG rental was over the holidays, when I went home. I rented it for three weeks, for $2,300. 

Then I took it off the site in the new year and over the summer, and when I brought it back, I upped it to $200. And demand is still enough to sell it out. For a couple of days I put it up to $250, just to see, and I didn’t get many bites. So for now, $200 is the right amount.

I’m getting mostly international travelers who want to stay for a long time. I have someone checking in on Friday for 8 days for $1,600. Then I’m not renting it for a couple days, then I have some guys from India who are coming here for 22 days to work, that’s $4,400. So that’s $6,000 in one month.

Logan: But how much of that is profit?

Anon: My rent is $1900, $150 for utilities, $40 for cleaning and doing the laundry. That’s it.

Logan: So now do you just have avaialbility totally open?

Anon: I opened it up. I talked to my girlfriend and we decided, it’s so much money, I’ll commute from her place if my place is booked.

Logan: How is this doing on your relationship?

Anon: Well, we’re using the money for a big trip over the holidays. And we’ve been looking up places similar to mine in the area. We’re talking about getting a second place and renting it full time. Or me moving in with her officially and just renting my place out full-time .

Logan: Just for Airbnb?

Anon: Yeah. I’d make my rent back in 2 weeks, and prices are only going up. If I gear it towards business travelers, offer a a desk/work area, a white board, office supplies, faster internet, etc.—I could charge even more. So by getting another place, and working two of them, I will, in effect, double my salary

Logan: I thought cities were cracking down on Airbnb rentals, because they are basically illegal, unregulated hotels?

Anon: Well, yes. But it depends on your situation.

Logan: You mean, whether you get caught?

Anon: Right. I have a lot of anonymity at my place. It’s a large building with over 100 apartments, and we were just bought by a new company. I can buzz people in from my phone, so I buzz in the renters and the maintenance people.

I’m not breaking any laws. But I am skirting the lines of my lease. It says something in my lease “no subletting” … but also, “no visitors more than 30 consecutive days.” I’ve read up on this a lot, and mostly, if you do get caught, they will jut say “don’t do it anymore.” It’s hard to find, but there are a few instances of eviction.

Logan: You said you’re not breaking any laws, but you don’t want me to use your real name.

Anon: Ehhhhhhh, yeah, probably not. Just because of the landlords getting wind. I’d like to keep as low a profile as possible. You know, AirBnB is the biggest thing in SF driving up housing prices. People are taking 2 bedrooms off the market renting them out to foreigners or travelers instead of having a full time resident in there. So there are fewer places to live. They say getting an apt in SF now is harder than getting a job. It’s SO competitive to find a place worth living in. People aren’t moving

Logan: That makes sense, but what are you basing it on?

Anon: It’s just a fact. Everyone talks about it. Here, look at this: “‘Many landlords decided they would be able to make more money by renting (their properties) as tourist space,’ said Ted Gullicksen, president of the San Francisco Tenants’ Union, which promotes renters’ rights. ‘We’re seeing a big loss of rental housing stock, which we’re already losing through other means. This is added pressure.’” That’s from The San Francisco Chronicle.

Logan: Well then, you’re contributing to that problem.

Anon: I guess, but I’m okay with it. It’s making it a wealthier city. Richer people mean more taxes, mean better resources. So what’s so wrong with building up a strong economy in SF? So artists can’t live downtown? What’s so wrong with that? There are places I’ll never be able to afford either, but I’m not complaining. I don’t get why this is such a big deal.

Logan: If all the affordable apartments in the city were are taken off the market and only available as hotel rooms, you don’t see that as a big deal?

Anon: It’s not like it’s the 1% are staying in these apartments. They are still staying in penthouses at the W. The people who rent my place are people who would have had to all share a hotel room. Instead, they’re paying less and staying at my house.

 

Anon lives in San Francisco. Photo by angeloangelo. 

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54 Comments / Post A Comment

This guy seems like a dick.

Anon1234 (#2,341)

@Lisa Lenner@facebook You don’t know me, so that seems like a pretty big assumption to make from an article, no?

wearitcounts (#772)

@Anon1234 that’s why she said “seems like” instead of “is.” it’s the way she interpreted how you came off, based on just the information she had from this article.

aeroaeroaero (#1,422)

@Anon1234 You’re definitely a dick and I really, really hope you get evicted!

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

He does seem like a dick. But he’s living the dream…
I really like AirBnB and stayed with two different people who were renting out their homes that they owned. I think I will try to only stay with people who actually own the properties they are renting out, instead of apartment dwellers, if that makes sense or is possible.

julebsorry (#1,572)

Ugh – not a fan of this kind of air bnb use. I live in a 3-story building that has 2 jr-1s on each floor – so, 6 apartments total. I recently found my upstairs neighbor on air bnb, advertising their space as a weekend or month-long rental, and got totally annoyed about it. Our building is small (not the same case as in this story, obvs) and it’s pretty secure. Packages get left in the vestibule, I leave laundry in the hallway unattended for a pickup service, etc. So, I hate the idea of casual travelers stomping around at all hours, especially since I live on the first floor, right by the main entrance, and hear pretty much everyone going in and out. I totally feel like my neighbors are taking advantage of our cozy-building status and assuming that we, their neighbors, will police any funny business from the temporary renters (since they won’t be around to police it themselves).

Basically, NYC real estate = too expensive for me to be comfortable allowing part of my building to be, essentially, a flophouse.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@julebsorry Great point! I try to be a quiet and polite traveler in general, so I didn’t even think about how someone who doesn’t live in your building might treat it poorly. Have you felt like the people who are staying in the neighbor’s place are bad news?

wearitcounts (#772)

@julebsorry i think he’s underestimating the ability of his neighbors to Know What Is Up.

julebsorry (#1,572)

@josefinastrummer Honestly, I think they haven’t gotten a lot of uptake yet (thank goodness). Not sure why. We did have one group that was really loud one weekend…they stood basically directly outside my door at like 9am on a Sunday, loudly arguing about their plans for the day for like 20 minutes while they looked up destinations on their phones (why they didn’t just go back to the apartment is beyond me). Another group chucked cig butts out of their 2nd story window and onto my backyard porch. Long story short, it’s caused only minimal problems so far, but I hate the variable that a consistent stream of unsupervised strangers poses. Most people are likely polite and considerate, but since the entire building is technically taking on some risk while only one of the apartments is benefiting…it just bridles.

julebsorry (#1,572)

@wearitcounts basically, YUP. I’ve lived in some big, corporate apartment buildings, and the tenants were actually pretty nuts about policing each other. The gravy train ride might be shorter than he thinks it’ll be.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@julebsorry I hear you. I had a problem with loud neighbors in my last place and I had to move. I would be bummed to live in a quiet place and have it disturbed by people who really didn’t give a shit, because they are only there on vacation. There is just no recourse. I hope things work out for you and the building.

Titania (#489)

@julebsorry Yup. I live in a 15-unit brownstone building in the West Village and I swear to god I am calling the landlord then next time I’ve got a bunch of Eurotrash tourists smoking cigarettes on my stoop and banging in and out of the building all goddamn day and night. I work from home, and it’s just not okay with me; I pay rent to live in a residential building, not a hotel.

Oh my god, Anon. Perhaps being able to afford that $1900 rent no problem has made you an asshole.

“It’s making it a wealthier city. Richer people mean more taxes, mean better resources. So what’s so wrong with building up a strong economy in SF? So artists can’t live downtown?”

WTF. Aside from the fact that wealthier people consistently vote against tax lobbies that don’t benefit them (public schools, anyone?), it’s not just ARTISTS that cannot afford it. YOUR CLEANING LADY CANNOT AFFORD IT!!!! Teachers, social workers, shoe repair people, restaurant workers- they can’t afford it either! Are you in such a bubble-world that you think only artists are upset about being pushed out of cities?

JanieS (#1,826)

@Jake Reinhardt As someone who works in administrative support and is stuck, for the time being in San Francisco – I kind of want to ask this fellow what size cardboard box I should be setting up in Dolores Park, since I clearly don’t deserve a decent living space in this city where I spend all of my money.

emmabee (#2,008)

@Jake Reinhardt Also, is Anon even paying all the taxes he should be paying (hotel/motel tax *and* income tax on the rental income)? Because that’s my #1 problem with AirBnB. NYC has a similarly crazy housing situation, and in both cities, so much money goes to making the city palatable for tourists–they need to be paying their fair share!

(All that said, I’ve stayed in probably-illegal apartments myself, and I fully acknowledge that I’m part of the problem.)

r&rkd (#1,657)

@emmabee
Yes, I feel like the tax avoidance problem is the most obviously troubling one.

I have a friend who work for an unlicensed moving business that has been unable to work recently because every time it advertises online, the state sends it a bill for the fine for not having a license. Perhaps some day other states or municipalities will catch on that they can go after unlicensed hotels just by skimming profiles, or perhaps even go after airbnb itself?

NoReally (#45)

Seems like with more and more people violating their lease agreements this way, the next thing that happens is landlords spending a lot of money to get laws passed that allow more privacy-invading clauses in leases.

cmoney (#2,344)

@NoReally

They don’t really need to pass laws, this can easily be stopped by contract. I imagine we will see the standard lease agreements including a clause that altogether prohibits AirBnB use by tenants or severely limits it.

I’m sure someone would try to sue, but they would most likely lose since its a perfectly reasonable thing for landlords to include in a lease agreement.

veruca (#2,340)

I am always intrigued by the idea of renting out my apartment on AirBnB, but it seems so weird to have a stranger going through your stuff. What do you do, hide all your valuables/diary/etc?
This guy is trying to be a landlord without assuming any risk or responsibility. Seems like he has a good deal right now, esp. because he can stay free with his gf, but going full time seems like it would be pushing his luck.
I don’t think it’s that hard to find an apartment in SF though; I found a studio within a week that was gorgeous, way bigger than any studio I ever had in Chicago, and $1,300/mo. Expensive, yes, but readily available. But that’s just one anecdote.
I wonder if the city could actually support itself as a ‘city of hotels,’ I mean can you imagine the hassle of running your entire apartment complex as a hotel? If landlords wanted to be hoteliers, they would open hotels. I also wonder if the demand is actually there; are there THAT many tourists that they could replace an entire city population? Interesting to consider.
Logan I love your interviews!

Lily Rowan (#70)

@veruca My former apartment building basically got turned into a hotel, which is why they pushed me out. My rent was not cheap, but they are asking much more for short term furnished rentals.

veruca (#2,340)

@Greg@twitter I found it in the Marina 6 months ago. It’s like a dream (except for the levels of douchiness). It’s totally made me overconfident in terms of how hard it is to find an apartment in SF and was probably a freak stroke of luck that I will continue to hold up as an example of my apartment hunting prowess.Maybe something really gruesome happened in the apartment, don’t wanna know!

veruca (#2,340)

@Lily Rowan I know it happens, and that sucks. I’m just curious about how mass of a movement it could actually be. Just wondering and probably being blindly overoptimistic. I just think if the ENTIRE city became hotels, the bottom of the market would drop out. But I have no real expertise in that and am hoping someone who is more informed can clarify! And of course it can be damaging even if it happens on a smaller scale.

littleoaks (#1,801)

I want to know whether Anon contributes to his girlfriend’s rent and, if so, how much. If not, yikes.

iffie (#1,911)

@littleoaks Right! He said they’re spending money on a big trip but he’s basically making a ton of money while she continues to pay her rent and not benefit. This guy gives me the creeps.

muffalutta (#1,420)

@littleoaks Yes! I would like to think that there was a meatier conversation with the girlfriend than was covered in this short interview but yes, YIKES.

Anon1234 (#2,341)

@muffalutta Here’s the convo:

Me: Hey, so someone wants to rent my place and I can make about 6k in a month. If you let me stay with you, we’ll use that money and go on an awesome vacation this winter over New Years. It’ll be awesome since we’ve never really been on vacation. What do you think?

Her: HELL YES!!!

There are about 40 different ways this story could go terribly wrong.

@Reginal T. Squirge This needs a ‘Choose your own adventure’ function, with some of the options ending in what SF looks like when they’ve finally pushed all those poors out, and some of the endings being this guy being robbed blind and having his savings wiped out and identity stolen (bad credit!)so that he can no longer afford to live there.

“If you’d like the renters to shoot a porn in the apartment, turn to page 358″

madrassoup (#929)

@Reginal T. Squirge If you’d like everyone to get bedbugs, turn to pages 114, 285, 347, and 500.

NoReally (#45)

How Airbnb Earned Me $20,000 And A Restraining Order From My Landlord This sounds worse than mostly, if you do get caught, they will jut say “don’t do it anymore.”

minijen (#656)

1) just because ‘Anon’ has a girlfriend and is a jackass, don’t assume it’s a guy – especially in SF
2) this kind of chicanery in a rental unit is going to ruin Airbnb and rental leases for everyone, if greedy people keep it up
3) GF isn’t getting half? That’s a problem.
4) luckily, this person seems kinda like an idiot (no affordable housing is no big deal? wtf?!), so I see legal/IRS problems in their future, and that’s ok with me.

wearitcounts (#772)

@minijen if you hover your mouse over the picture, the caption says “this guy’s rent.”

minijen (#656)

@wearitcounts Ah. I don’t typically look for alt text (except on xkcd!) , thanks.

wearitcounts (#772)

@minijen either way, still very valid points.

madrassoup (#929)

@minijen Good points all around. Your last one is especially interesting, and makes me wonder how anon reports this income (and if the answer is no that might explain the anon status).

Beyond that is this: feel free to own your choices but please do not pretend that they are in any way unselfish. The mental acrobatics required to say that one is “building up a strong economy” are pretty astounding.

hellohello123 (#2,327)

I stayed at an apartment in Brooklyn as a regular roommate–and found out a few weeks later that my roommate was renting out a lofted bed (which was only accessible via industrial playground slide) on AirBnB. Interesting situation.

And this dude seems like a massive jerk. Is he kidding with not caring about adding to the problem? Seriously?

tales (#928)

Things I’ve been lucky enough to get from my Airbnb neighbors:
Regular sets of two days of full-volume movie noise from directly below me at all times of day and night
The constant sound of suitcases banging on the stairs as dragged by people who are apparently incapable of carrying them above the ground
Frequent yelling in the stairwell
The knowledge that the code to my front door has been widely disseminated
The knowledge that while I signed on to live in a residence in a building full of residences, the number of people in and out of the building with no supervision or incentive to treat it nicely has skyrocketed

So, I’m glad you’re thinking of lining your pockets, but this shit isn’t legal for a reason. And one of your neighbors just might get fed up and report you to the landlord.

WaityKatie (#1,696)

@tales To be fair, I get most of those from my regular neighbors. Plus, an extremely spoiled 2 year old named (wait for it) Phoenix, screaming up and down the hall at all hours of the day or night!

julebsorry (#1,572)

@tales Yeah, see my comment above with basically the same story. It’s a pretty uncool thing to do to your neighbors, especially if you don’t alert them beforehand or somehow give them veto power/potential compensation to mitigate the annoyance and risk. Just because the landlord doesn’t know what’s up doesn’t mean it’s consequence-free for the building.

City_Dater (#565)

This is guy is pretty much a jerk. And I hope his neighbors report him for this, since they’re the ones who have to put up with his little side business while he’s off at his girlfriend’s place, counting his money like Scrooge McDuck.

NoReally (#45)

What’s the Airbnb line on insurance? If you’re violating your lease and your “customer” does some kind of damage then you’re obviously completely fucked, as soon as your landlord’s insurance company susses the situation and denies the claim. But what if you own your own house? If it goes past faking the insurance company out about this injured and/or destructive stranger being your house guest, would your basic homeowner’s policy be useless? Seems like they like to do stuff like that.

There is special insurance for running a bed and breakfast, as opposed to just renting a room out or something.

muffalutta (#1,420)

@NoReally Airbnb has an insurance policy that covers hosts from damage and theft up to a certain dollar amount. What I don’t know is how they handle damage to the building’s common spaces, or damage severe enough that you can’t deal with it without involving the landlord. I rent out part of my apartment through Airbnb occasionally, but basically every comment here is the reason I am always there to supervise.

cmoney (#2,344)

If Anon rents out this apartment full-time, he is most definitely violating the no subletting clause of his lease. Yeah there is the clause about no visitors for more than 30 days, but most courts would ignore that since he would effectively be moving out and subletting to a string of various new tenants (none of whom have been approved by the landlord) and treat him as though he were subletting. His landlord would have every right to evict him and potentially sue for a share of the profits (less likely, but if I were his lawyer I would definitely sue for it).

Also, if Anon rents another apartment specifically for the purposes of renting it on AirBnB that is fraud. The landlord could definitely tear up the contract and evict him at anytime since Anon would be misrepresenting his reasons for renting the apartment no matter what provisions the contract contained.

keightdee (#2,041)

I’m SO ANGRY with this person I’m seeing stars. Holy shit. I think I’m going to have a heart attack.

theotherginger (#1,304)

@keightdee I know, right? In case I ever live by myself again I might sublet on airbnb instead of on craigslist (I subletted the normal way, and told my landlord, before) to make more money. But I WOULD TELL MY LANDLORD there was someone else there. Because what if something happens? Would my insurance cover it? Unlikely…

oiseau (#1,830)

So I agree that this guy sounds like a total dick/super cocky and smug and I kind of hope he falls on his face.

But I have to admit… if I knew I could do this, make an extra $6,000/month, try to rent it out to business travelers only, and be relatively assured I would not get caught… I would. Does that make me a bad person? The payoff outweighs the risks as well as the consideration for any neighbors, for me. It could be potentially a huge mess, but if I could triple my income I would go for it.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@oiseau Since you asked, yes, this makes you a bad person. You are willing to violate the terms of your lease and possibly alienate your neighbors so you can make a buck. Buy a rental property if you want to triple your income so badly. Don’t do it at the expense of others.

LotaLota (#2,347)

Karma says that what these people are doing to their landlords is gonna be done to one of them some day: a renter is going to decide he likes living in your place just fine, and refuses to leave. At which point you’ll have a nice little legal wrangle. Bonus: you’ll get firsthand experience in how long it can take to evict someone.

LowerHaighter (#2,387)

@LotaLota Oh, that would be rich. Seriously you could really F*up someone like Anon with that.

In a city with strict rent control and significant tenants rights: Rent for a week or so and then refuse to leave. Call up the Tenants Union and watch them go to work for you; they’d be chomping at the bit to go after someone like this.

Worst case, you shake him down for “relocation money” and teach him a lesson. Or if he does something even more stupid, like forcefully evicting you, big time lawsuit money.

It would take someone more willing than I to put up with the hassle but it would be an epic kharma takedown of this smug asshole.

John Properties (#5,924)

I’ve never heard of anyone renting out their place by the night, only bed and breakfasts and beach condos. Its awesome when people use smart rental techniques for making money in real estate.

thomas (#6,849)

Great blog post! I don’t understand how long it will require me to obtain through all of them!
houses for rent

Great article. I’ve rented and traveled through Airbnb since more than 3 years and I’m general very happy with their services. However, I also find it worthwhile to use other similar concepts to Airbnb. As a traveler it gives me more options and I’ve even found exactly the same property cheaper elsewhere. As a host, advertising on multiple websites gives me more exposure and more bookings. Here are the websites I use in addition to Airbnb: http://similar-web-sites-to-airbnb-roomorama-wimdu.fastweb.no

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