Airbnb recruits multifamily landlords for short-term sublets

Equity Residential, Greystar among those taking a cut

Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky (Photo Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal with Getty)
Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky (Photo Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal with Getty)

Airbnb is bringing short-term rentals out of the shadows and bringing multifamily landlords a novel revenue stream.

The company is launching a listing service for apartment rentals with several major property owners and managers across the country, the Wall Street Journal reported. The service will launch with more than 175 properties, including ones owned by Greystar and Equity Residential, along with 10 others.

Only units with permitted short-term sublets will be listed on the service in a move targeting the declining share of short-term rental listings in apartment buildings, which sank 4.9 percent from October 2019 to last month as overall listings on the platform increased 22.9 percent.

Airbnb’s landlord partners will collect a share of the total booking revenue from the sublets, often amounting to 20 percent. Landlords will also have access to a dashboard so they can see which of their units has an Airbnb guest.

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Multifamily giant Greystar is set to list more than 100 buildings on the new platform, with more to come. CEO Bob Faith told the Journal the opportunity to sublet may act as a perk to prospective tenants, taking the edge off a unit’s rent.

Airbnb has been at the center of regulation struggles among landlords and officials in cities like New York, where a law prohibits apartment sublets for stays of fewer than 30 days unless the host is home. Despite local rules and a decade-long battle, difficulties enforcing the law have let illegal listings go unchecked.

News of the listing service comes after Airbnb reported a record number of bookings in its first quarter, and record revenue and profit in the third quarter. The company’s stock has sunk 40 percent this year amid a broader sell-off in technology stocks.

— Holden Walter-Warner