roommate airbnb

How Stop Roommate Renting through Airbnb without Permission

roommate airbnb

The basics are:

  • Airbnb will not help
  • Check if it is against the rules in your lease agreement, the co-op board, or your landlord.
  • If it is, telling this to your roommate may get them to stop, or use with proper negotiating techniques.
  • As a last resort, tell these third parties, and they might stop it

This is one of the biggest challenges roommates face and we get many inquiries about it. The situation may be more difficult to unravel because there are five persons involved with conflicting interests…

  • The Airbnb tenant wants a quiet, hassle-free stay where they can come, go and do what they want
  • Your landlord wants to protect their investment while earning trouble-free money without hassles
  • Airbnb wants to make a quick buck without doing anything except maintain a website
  • Your roommate wants to make money to offset their share of the rent while they are away
  • You want peace and quiet while sharing your home with someone you choose to live with

This is a natural recipe for conflict, and not something you want when you work all day long and come home wanting to relax. But can you actually prevent your roommate from renting their space through Airbnb? Are they allowed to do it?


This Is What Airbnb Says About Roommates Renting Space

Airbnb wants to be the new force in short term accommodation when away from home. It does not want negative press because this is bad for business. So it lays down rules regarding who to notify before using its services.

However it does not require any proof this has actually been done. This is presumably in the hope the bad news will not dent its reputation, and the money will keep rolling in.


Airbnb’s Rules Won’t Help You, but These Other Rules Might


When you point these out to your roommate, they might stop renting out their room without permission.

The other third parties who make these rules could force your roommate to stop, and this guide will tell you how to make use of this.

Whether they asked your permission or not, I’m afraid Airbnb is not much use at all in a dispute.

To be honest, I can’t realty blame Airbnb. If they listed all the things that could go wrong when renting shared space. hey may have closed their doors a long time ago Therefore, you are probably on your own as far as they are concerned.

  • “Check your homeowners association or co-op board regulations to make sure there is no prohibition against subletting – or any other restriction against hosting.
  • “Read your lease agreement and check with your landlord if applicable.
  • “You may consider adding a rider to your contract that addresses the concerns of these parties and outlines the responsibilities and liabilities of all parties.
  • “If you have roommates, consider a roommate agreement in writing which outlines things like how often you plan to host, how you’ll ensure guests follow house rules, and even whether you’ll share revenue if that makes sense for you.
  • “Consider whether you should notify your neighbors about your plans to host, along with your plan for how to make sure your guests are not disruptive.
  • “If you live in public or subsidized housing there may be special rules that apply to you. The manager of the property may be able to answer questions about this.”

Speaking to the Landlord

I really think we have to share the situation with the property owner for several reasons. After all, if they discover what is happening themselves, then they could come down really hard on us even though we are innocent.

Making enemies when it is not our fault is crazy when you look at it from any angle. Let’s consider the situation from the landlord’s point of view.

  • Using residential accommodation for commercial purposes can invalidate the insurance if they allow it.
  • It could also put them in a conflict situation with their local HOA or Co-Op Board, and there might be a penalty
  • They have a right to decide who stays in their apartment, after all that’s what lease agreements are for

So I would level with the landlord, explain what happened, and what I am doing to protect their interests as best as I can. After all, they are unlikely to evict me when they have a responsible person managing the people my roommate booked in through Airbnb without my permission.

However, I would not go as far as telling my landlord what they should do. That could lead to another conflict situation. I would simply aim to stay out of trouble. I don’t believe I should try to justify what my roommate did though. That’s going to be their problem when they get back.


What to Do About Airbnb, (If Anything)

airbnb logo

I suggest we do absolutely nothing about Airbnb because I doubt it will listen to our complaints. And if they do, I very much doubt it will offer compensation because this could open a floodgate of similar complaints. Instead, Airbnb might say something like this and I am guessing of course:

  • We are terribly sorry to hear about your experience
  • When your roommate signed up they agreed to our terms
  • These recommended signing a roommate agreement first
  • Therefore we suggest you take this up with your roommate

I believe that’s fair enough given their large number of clients. If we don’t like working with a corporate we should vote with our feet and give it a miss.


How to Sort out the ‘Devil in the Detail, Your Roommate

your roommate

I don’t believe we can take this lying down, unless of course we want your roommate to keep renting through Airbnb without our permission. I recommend we send them an email or message summarizing the situation as follows:

  • You sub-leased the apartment to a mom, pop and two kids without asking
  • This infringed my rights to privacy; I had to share with strangers
  • You may have dented the landlord’s insurance and other interests
  • The lease says we are jointly responsible for damage to the apartment
  • Therefore, what you did was unfair, and I don’t like it
  • You also came close to ruining your Airbnb customers’ holiday
  • I am letting them stay on because they did not cause the problem
  • I therefore ask you not to do this again for as long as we are sharing

I have seen other posts suggesting you should claim half the money the Airbnb paid across. I can’t recommend accepting this. That’s because we would be colluding with something that was wrong, and they could think they could do it again.


You Come Home and Find People on the Doorstep


So you come home from college or work on a Friday early evening, and find this nice family waiting at the front door with their baggage. It’s a mom and pop outfit with two small children burning their energy running up and down the stairs.

Doors are popping open and closing as the neighbors ask what is going on.

  • Can I help you, you ask the mom and pop: Are you looking for something? Oh no, they reply as their faces crinkle into smiles. We are Airbnb guests here. May we ask who you are? We paid the money to the apartment owner and we are here for the week.
  • Your head is in a spin. You recall the lease agreement does not actually prohibit subleasing. In fact, you remember your roommate and you even discussed the possibility of doing an Airbnb once when you needed a new television.
  • The mom and pop look like decent people. All of you are caught up in the situation you find yourselves in. You really have no choice unless you want to be horrid. You show them to your roommate’s room, point out the bathroom and put the kettle on for tea.

But that do you do next, you wonder as you hurriedly tidy the apartment and rinse the dirty dishes. You have survived a number of tricky situations before and there has to be a solution to this one too. You remember writing an essay about conflict resolution at senior school.


Conflict Resolutions Can Help

Conflicts are everywhere; it is a question of how we handle them. That’s true whether we don’t like a change affecting us, or we can’t agree about something we think is important. Resolving conflicts is finding peaceful solutions, and these are the basic steps you could follow:

  • Work as quickly as possible to identify solutions together
  • Produce a workable answer that everybody can agree to
  • Improve relationships between the parties as a happy byproduct

This is always the first place to start, and I have put how to do this later on in this guide.


That’s Enough Theory Let’s Get to the ‘Meat and Potatoes’

I couldn’t agree more. Although at the same time, there are advantages from viewing the background to a problem. This helps us take our personal values out of the equation.

This is important because we change a situation by merely being present. We behave differently when the boss is at the meeting, just as we did when the teacher left the classroom for a few precious moments of what we thought was ‘freedom’ then.

Let’s start by reviewing the people our roommate’s decision to rent through Airbnb affects. If it was me I would start with damage control and catch up on the practical details later.

  • The Airbnb tenant wants a quiet, hassle-free stay where they can come, go and do as they want
  • Your landlord wants to protect their investment while earning trouble-free money without problems
  • Airbnb wants to make a quick buck without doing anything except maintain a website
  • Your roommate wants to make money to offset their share of the rent while they are away
  • You want peace and quiet while sharing your home with someone you choose to live with

Well yes it is, and I guess by now the Airbnb tenants are demanding answers, more pillows, and what I am doing in their space.


Logically We Should Start with the Mom, Pop and Kids

family airbnb guests

Well yes, they are having a tough time because we haven’t exactly welcomed them. They have rights they paid for, and they 99% likely made the booking in all innocence. I personally figure this is a case of treating other people the way we would like them to treat us.

  • Therefore, I can’t see how any half-decent person would put them out in the street. Besides, if you did and they complained to the police, the law might take their side and you could end up worse off.
  • So I would say rather have a friendly chat with the mom and pop starting with a promise they are welcome to stay the week. Then I would explain my own position and how my roommate is renting through Airbnb without checking with me first.
  • Finally, I would negotiate ‘temporary house rules’ like sharing the bathroom, not making noise at night and how best to manage the refrigerator. If they asked me to join them for supper I definitely would accept. Sharing always goes better when we are friends.

How to Do Conflict Resolution


As I said earlier, this should be the first step and here is how to do it

Find More Key Advice from the American Management Association

The American Management Association views conflict resolution in five stages. I hope you find these phases useful especially if your roommate rents to Airbnb without your permission:

  • Gather as much information as you possibly can
  • Try to look beyond the immediate problem
  • Never fear to ask other people for advice
  • Seek a solution you believe everybody can accept
  • Resolve the conflict by negotiating consensus

STAGE ONE: Gather as much information as you possibly can

ask questions
  • When you understand the background to a problem this helps you pinpoint a workable solution. Ask the guests to describe the process leading to their arrival at your doorstep. What promises did your roommate make?
  • Cast your mind back over past discussions you had with your roommate. What might you have said that made them think it was okay to rent through Airbnb without your agreement. Did you ever discuss subletting with your landlord?

STAGE TWO: Try to look beyond the immediate problem

  • Try to figure out what else might have caused your roommate’s unexpected behavior. Have you been overlooking signs your relationship is becoming strained, and they no longer care about how they treat you?
  • Perhaps they have found someone else they would rather share with and are in the process of moving out. Maybe they are short of cash and are doubling up with a friend, so the Airbnb income can cover their share of the rent.
  • Never try to understand someone else in terms of your own values, and what you believe is right and fair. Few people I know go out of their way to be really nasty. It’s just the way they are, and how they view the world around them.

When people do come face to face with each other as human beings, they begin to understand each other better. Carolyn Chute

STAGE THREE: Never fear to ask other people for advice

  • We are all part of the same social system and we should never be afraid to ask for advice. Speaking to other people involved in your problem – even if they caused it – enables you to see things from their perspective.
  • We are not always the best people to take command and solve a problem single handed. The most unlikely people make the best leaders in uncertain situations. We are not in charge of the world. The truth will continue unfolding without us.

STAGE FOUR: Seek a solution you believe everybody can accept

talk to gather information
  • Once you have all the facts and have listened to advice, it is time to get creative. Try to understand the various peoples ‘bottom lines’. These are their non-negotiable positions and where they make their stand.
  • Now figure out a way through that all will accept. Your mind may already be brimming over with ideas to resolve your roommate problem as you read this. Jot them down on a piece of paper for now. I look forward to comparing ideas later.

STAGE FIVE: Resolve the conflict by negotiating consensus

  • Change your role now and become the mediator. The go-between who shuttles between the other role players and helps them to agree on a resolution of the problem. It is essential to avoid taking sides at this stage.
  • You want people to see you as the honest broker, the independent thinker wanting to solve THEIR problems, not your own. Negotiation is not always about seizing power. It is often more about helping other people grow.

And Finally About You … Can You Still Make the Sharing Work?

This is a case where you are entitled to put yourself first. If your roommate is genuinely sorry – and truly apologizes – then you could continue with sharing if that’s what you want to do.

However, if things still don’t feel right, then I suggest you ask the landlord to release you from the lease. If they won’t do that, then you will have to see the remainder of the lease out as best you can.

Life is about compromises every step of the way. However, there is always the option of doing nothing or opting out. Both of these may come at a cost. But, you may be a lesser person if you put the immediate cost first.

Do You Agree With My Suggestions?

I hope you wrote your own ideas down while you were reading this article. Do you agree with what I said, or do you have other ideas? I’d love it if you posted them here so we can start a conversation.

Sharing accommodation in a dorm, an apartment or house is never easy. It takes goodwill and give and take on all sides. However, if all the people are fair and treat each other right, then sharing can be fun as long as you understand each other and cut them some slack.

Writer: Richard Farrell

richard ferrell writer



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