By Rowan Clifford
Author of Airbn’b’Smart and Hospitable user
Local governments have been cracking down on Airbnb—with many outlawing (or severely prohibiting) it altogether.
And with the regulations and policies changing so dramatically from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, it makes it increasingly difficult to know what’s legal and what’s not.
But surely you can find all of this stuff on Airbnb’s website, right?
In fact, to distance themselves from these legalities, they remain particularly vague on the topic altogether.
This means the onus to know the legal Airbnb requirements for your area falls firmly on your shoulders.
But don’t worry; this article is going to point you in the right direction and give you all the information you need to know (and where to get it) to be compliant.
Airbnb regulations—the single source of truth
Airbnb’s regulations are a minefield and often differ at multiple different geographical levels:
- National level
- Regional level
- City level
- District level
This makes understanding the exact Airbnb regulations, policies, and local laws for your property a bit of a headache, to say the least.
And to make things even more complicated, Airbnb tries to keep you at arms reach to avoid any legal comeback on their part with lots of vague recommendations on their website.
This means that it’s on YOU to find out what the regulations are in your area.
Typically you’ll need answers to the following:
- Does your house meet the minimum requirements of building standards?
- Are there any zoning rules in your area prohibiting you from letting on Airbnb?
- Do you need to acquire any special forms of hosting permits?
- What are your tax obligations?
- Landlord and tenant laws—Do you have the green light to sub-let?
- What are your insurance obligations?
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How to find out the regulations in my area?
I’d love to be able to give you a quick link to a resource page (I really would), which tells you everything you need to know in your area, but I can’t.
It just doesn’t exist.
With the laws and regulations varying so dramatically from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, the only way to get accurate concrete answers is to contact your local government, tax officials, or a local lawyer personally.
It sucks, I know, but if you want to be entirely legit, then that’s the price you’re going to have to pay, I’m afraid. You’d need to spend some time on research.
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Do you need a business license for Airbnb?
Airbnb itself doesn’t stipulate that you need a business license to operate; however, it may be a legal requirement by your local authority.
This is something that you’ll need to find out.
Frequently they’ll have a section within their websites explaining the business licensing process and protocols. So that’s a good place to start.
Alternatively, if you can’t find the answers you need there, you’ll need to jump on the phone and get answers directly.
Airbnb Requirements—What it takes to be an Airbnb host
The very minimum requirement to be a host on Airbnb is that you have a property that you either own—or have consent to lease—that’s legally permitted to be rented on the Airbnb platform.
That’s just the basics, though, so I’m going to presume you tick that box already.
But in order to fulfill the requirements of being an Airbnb host successfully (over the long term), there are a few more things you need to do.
In fact, Airbnb has a few basic requirements they expect from all hosts in order to trade on their platform.
- Accept bookings: If someone tries to book your place and it’s available, you’re expected to accept it.
- Cancelations: Cancelations are taken very seriously and should be avoided wherever possible.
- Quality: As a host, you are expected to maintain consistent, high-quality accommodation.
- Responsiveness: Hosts are required to answer any guest inquiries within 24 hours.
What about responding in seconds?
Failure to meet these minimum requirements means running the risk of being kicked off the Airbnb platform altogether—without recourse.
Which nobody wants, right?
Fortunately, with the bar set so low—there are no excuses not to meet these minimum requirements.
As you can probably see by now, there is no ‘single source of truth’ regarding Airbnb host requirements, and the responsibility of operating above board and legally is firmly placed on you—the host.
In fact, Airbnb’s stance seems to be to create as much distance legally between themselves and any hosts using the platform.
Which means the onus is firmly on you to do your research and keep up to date with local laws and regulations.
Which is a drag, but unfortunately, there’s just no getting around it.
Although you’ll have to check your local legislation yourself, we’ll save you some time on researching hosting best practices. To be more precise, here are hosting worst practices, that you should avoid. Download it now.
Anyway, I hope I’ve helped to clarify the landscape a little for you, and at the very least, help shed some light on Airbnb’s policies, rules, and requirements.
But unfortunately, that’s as far as my help can go, and now it’s over to you.
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