D.C. restricts landlords from using short-term rentals to fill empty rooms. There are also rules on how often a place can be rented when it’s allowed. D.C. tenants should look to their lease to see whether short-term rentals are prohibited. Tenants are responsible for any damage or other issues caused by their guests.
Can Landlords AirBnb Empty Rooms?
On November 13, 2018, D.C. unanimously green-lit a law restricting the commercial short-term rentals, like AirBnb and Homeaway. The primary effect is that landlords cannot place empty rooms on AirBnb (or similar services) if they do not live in the residence – they must instead rent to tenants. The policy attempts to increase the housing supply for locals by nudging temporary visitors to use hotels instead. The law also emphasizes business formalities for AirBnb hosts, like getting a business license and having a 24-hour contact number for the host.
Specifically, the Short-Term Rental Regulation Act of 2018 states that a person can AirBnb (or similar service) their primary residence up to 90 days while they are away. If a person is in the house, they can AirBnb (or similar service) the extra rooms 365 days per year. Second homes and homes purchased primarily for short-term rental purposes are prohibited. There’s an exemption for people with hardships. A host may petition for an exemption to the 90-day rule if they have to leave town for a medical reasons or if their employer requires to them travel more than 90 days out of the year. Curbed, Amendment 5.
Can Tenants AirBnb Rooms?
It depends on the lease. Some leases prohibit subleasing and short-term rentals without written permission. Failure to abide by a lease could result in an eviction. If the tenant is allowed to sublet, the Short-Term Rental Regulation Act of 2018 places limits on how often a tenant can make money from short-term rentals. It allows tenants to rent out rooms up to 90 days a year while they are away (there’s no restriction when the host is physically present). Tenants can petition for an exemption to the 90 rule to show they have a medical or job-related reason to leave town for so long. See Amendment 5. Tenants must also obtain a business license and post a 24-hour contact.
Business License and Contact
The Short-Term Rental Regulation Act of2018 emphasizes that hosts must obtain a “short-term rental” business license. It also adds a new rule that hosts must have a point of contact who is available 24 hours a day.
Responsibility for Damages
Unless the tenant and landlord have come to a different agreement, the tenant is responsible for any damages caused by their guests. The tenants are also accountable for noise-related issues, theft of their own property, and nearly any other problem caused by the guest.
State and Local Laws
Laws differ heavily by state, county, and city. Use RenterPeace to see more specific laws for to a given apartment and to see comments from people in your area.
Documenting the Problem
For most problems, tenants should document their issues, notify their landlord (document this too!), and stay informed about their rights. Renterpeace is a free website that helps with each step of this process. Tenants use RenterPeace to more easily see applicable laws, track their problems, and much more. There's a reason RenterPeace was selected "Best of" legal apps for both Android and iOS. It also includes household management tools, like a chore manager and bill tracker. Try it - you don't even to login first.
Using Property Management
To stay updated and organized about the problems in their apartments, landlords should use a property management system. Many are expensive or have high setup fees, but using RenterPeace for landlords is free. It's complete with legal compliance tips targeted to their problems, maintenance tracking, tenant screening, money-saving grant information, and tenant chat. It makes managing properties easier and staying updated about status of rental properties a breeze. Try it today.