DC Urban Turf has a great article on the arrival of the short term rental service AirBNB in DC and what legal obstacles homeowners face to use the service. In short, there are rules that apply, which are largely not being followed although even the regulators admit the rules aren’t keeping up with the times.
For those not familiar with AirBNB: it is essentially a service that permits people to list rooms, apartments or whole houses for nightly rental. You can essentially turn your house into a hotel.
GM was fascinated to see how many properties (at least 18) in Georgetown avail themselves of this service. The properties range from full houses to English basement apartments to rooms in a shared house. The prices range from $500 a night for a spacious house to $48 for a couch in what appears to be a basement apartment.
As the article points out, a good number of these rentals are illegal. But so are the dozens of English basement apartments that dot the neighborhood (upcoming updates to the zoning code should provide a “pathway to legality” for these units). And if you’ve got a separated room or apartment you don’t need, it is awfully tempting to turn that into a steady revenue stream. Or perhaps you own a house and you’re going away for a vacation for a couple weeks. You could probably pay for the whole trip if you rented out your whole house.
Of course, if you live next to one of these rental houses, you might not like the steady stream of people viewing it as a hotel (or worse: a party venue). So if you do this, make sure your neighbors are fine with it, or you’re likely to get a call from the inspectors!