I've been hosting guests using a spare bedroom in our apartment this month... There are normally 4 of us that live in the home but during the summer the room is vacant... I was just contacted by the landlord's attorney/agent that said they will be "terminating my tennancy" because I am "illegally operating a hotel" in the building which is not zoned for "hotels"
I contacted my attorney, since I have lived here for 10 years (yes TEN years without issue) and there is no provision in our lease about subletting nor transient guests... and since we are currently under a lease he will have a very difficult time evicting us. Apparently the guests that I hosted two days ago, instead of following my arrival procedure that I outline (which consits of texting or calling me either your ETA so I can be home or texting me 30-60 minutes before you arrive after check in), they decided to enter the building and knock on the first door they saw... which happens to be the property owner. He told me that the two gentlemen arrived and asked where the "bed and breakfast was?" I tried explaining to our landlord that he was referrring to the company/booking platform and that I was not operating a bed and breakfast per se but he became irate and very angry and referred to the guest that was here earlier as "elderly" and that he was concerned about insurance and getting sued. I explained about the Airbnb host guarantee coverage (which I know doesn't apply to common areas nor personal liability but didn't tell him that) and I also explained that my renter's insurance policy does cover this AND I have an umbrella insurance policy that provices gap coverage in the event something bad happens... All in all, it's over $1mil in insurance on my end alone, not including the host coverage Airbnb provides. It should be noted that the guests were not elderly or geriatic at all... they were barely 40 years old and were physically fit. There were no issues with their gait and they could ambulate just fine without any assitance. It's three flights of stairs... it's not the Boston marathon. Needless to say, he yelled and screamed at me and then later his attorney/agent called me and notified me of our pending eviction.
I am fully versed on "transiet guests" and how Massachusetts and our town handle and classify the issue. I'm not in the wrong here but our landlord is making everyone VERY uncomfortable and my lawyer told me to suspend hosting any further guests until we resolve the issue. I had someone arriving tomorrow for 5 days and I notified her this morning when I received the notification from the landlord and his agent and processed a cancellation under extenuating circumstances and requested she be fully refunded.
The guest just contacted me and is very upset - even though she will be refunded - but she said she is not able to find anything available for the same price. I have offered to help her find alternate accomodations. I offered to even pick her up from the airport or train station and drive her whereever she ends up staying. I feel really bad - but she is unhappy and said I have put her in a bad situation and is requesting me to reconsider.
I'm not reconsidering - especially with an irate and angry landlord downstairs who is a bit of a drinker... it's an uncomfortable situation for those of us that live here... let alone the guests that want to come. Why would they want to be subjected to this? I sent her a message saying it would not be a comfortable situation for them to stay in and that I would assist in every other way possible but I cannot have guests at this time. I have the feeling that if we did host them (and our landlord would know because he is on dissability and lives on the first floor watching people come and go all day) I would come home from work to our locks changed and our stuff out on the street (illegal I know - but he is acting in such a way that I wouldn't put this past him)...
Has anyone run into this situation before? Aside from offering to assit the aforementioned guest with transportation or alternative accomodations, is there anything else I should do? I genuinely feel bad but the situation is out of my control. We've had nothing but stellar guests and when I have traveled I've had nothing but awesome hosts... and I've not had any kind of tenant issue with the landlord before. I'm just not sure how to proceed aside from what I have offered to do for the guest and have communicated this to Airbnb support and also suspended my listing until this disaster is resolved.
I'm so sorry to hear all this, it sound stressful for you let a long a guest but I don't think she(the guest) fully comprehends the situation.
I don't know the legalities in Boston but you seem to top of things from that aspect. Re the guest, unfortunately things happen. This is totally out of your control and like you said, your landlord could very well change the locks. Also your solicitor has advised you to put any hosting on hold for now so you must do so, at this stage you come first before any guests, you have to be firm.
You have been very kind to offer her a lift, I understand you are feeling bad but it is not your fault! The guest has just got to find alternative accommodation or book a B&B or hotel; this is what her travel insurance should be covering. Politely but firmly inform the guest that there is absolutely nothing you can do as your solicitor has informed you to suspend hosting therefore she cannot be in the property. However you are willing to pick her and drop her off at an alternative location within reason. Inform her that she can reach out to Airbnb who will work with her in attempting to find alternative similar accommodation; they are actually quite good with stuff like this.
This is life, stuff happens, it’s sad but what can you do really....
I hope you get the whole palaver with the landlord sorted soon.
@Amaris Thanks for your council. I just wanted to ensure I wasn't being unhospitable or unreasonable. I don't believe the guest fully comprehends the situation, as you pointed out, so I reiterated that it would not be a comfortable situation and per advice from my lawyer, I cannot host anyone until this issue is resolved and encouraged her to review my calendar to confirm the listing his been suspended.
I also sent her two listings that are in my neighborhood (one block over and another two blocks over)... It may not be of the same quality (I don't know the host but they have good reviews but the photos are a mess) but I sent those listings to my guest and also underscored that one of the listings was also less expensive than mine but in the same neighborhood. I said I didn't know the host personally but at least there are two listings available within a block or two of my house that are less expensive or equal to her initial booking with me.
I genuinely feel bad about the situation but it seems out of my control. It's not the end of the world to be out the $500 from her reservation but I'm dissapointed in the situation and being forced to cancel on them.
@Christopher you have been accommodating to the best of you ability and no guest should ask for more under the circumstances, try not to feel guilty.
All the best with landlord and here's to hosting again sometime soon...
It may be too late as you canceled the booking but, if you were to get ahold of Airbnb, they typically will contact the guest themselves, let them know of the situation where there host cannot take them in and will, at Airbnb's expense, upgrade the guest to better accommodations to salvage the guest's Airbnb experience and take all pressure and blame off of you.
@Andrée2 Thanks for your note. I did attempt to contact Airbnb but as some can relate, it is difficult...especially when there is a critical timing issue. She was due to arrive tomorrow and I wanted to make sure she received sufficient notice, though my only notice was earlier today... It appears they did not penalize me nor charge me a fee, except for blocking off the dates on my calendar - which is fine since I won't be hosting until the issue is resolved. Worst case scenario, we are moving in September anyway and the home I am buying I found through Airbnb! It just happened to be for sale... and it receives a lot of rental attention. We will be hosting again soon, just not likely from our current apartment. Go figure.
I have questions for AirBnB and cannot figure out how to get hold of a person... email or phone or otherwise. How do I contact them to answer some questions?
THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE but I talked to my town solicitor and attorney, and she said to be aware that Massachusetts is, according to her, working on legislation to restrict these types of services, and Salem, MA is working hard to be faster than the state.
So keep an eye on the legislature....I need to google around and call the state house.
It would be great if airbnb posted updates and messaged people in affected areas of changes! And if you are in Boston I would start with the City Attorney's office and City Hall to clarify current local statutes, state and City, for anyone.
(PS I can't say, but it sounded like they were more concerned with getting their tax than other issues, but I can't say. Just based on a side comment. That was Town, not State. Questions to keep an eye out for. Election in November, FWIW.)
Jen - Are you following the 2019 bill signed re AirBNB. I'm trying to figure it out and especially insurance. Have you let your insurance company (homeowners policy) know you operate and AirBnB? Do we have to let them know? I'm unsure if the $1,000,000 AirBnB coverage is the same as AirBnB covers us for. Will that work? Have you lookied into it? Bonnie
As info - I've called Airbnb a few times and have always been able to get a live person in short fashion.
Best regards, Roger
Sorry to be so late to the conversation, I just saw this, but wanted to give a landlord perspective. I am an airbnb guest, host and a landlord of apartments so I see all sides. I understand your frustration but there are several good reasons for a landlord to be concerned about allowing tenants to use Airbnb including zoning, liability and allowed use so I do not blame him, I do not allow it in my units. If your lease did not allow subletting then the landlord could evict you even in Massachusetts.