Everything You Need to Know About Airbnb Long-Term Rentals (for Hosts and Guests)
Airbnb has made it easier than ever to find accommodation while traveling. The platform lets guests stay with real locals and get to know a place far better than a hotel would ever allow.
At the same time, Airbnb hosts get to meet travelers from across the world while also earning a respectable side income.
When people think of Airbnb, they generally think of short-term or vacation rentals. However, the platform is just as useful for guests looking for long-term stays, or for hosts looking to rent their place while on an extended trip.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at the ins and outs of long-term Airbnbs, exploring how they work for both hosts and guests.
Short-Term vs. Long-Term Airbnb Rentals
If you’ve hosted or stayed with Airbnb before, then you’re probably familiar with how short-term rentals work on the platform. A guest typically needs a place to stay for anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks while traveling for vacation, business, or even relocation to a new city.
In this way, short-term Airbnb rentals are much like booking a hotel or a bed and breakfast.
Long-term Airbnb rentals are a bit different. You still use the same Airbnb platform and booking process, but the nature of the arrangement tends to be more like a sublet or even a long-term lease on an apartment.
As we’ll explore in the next section, long-term Airbnb rentals can often be subject to local tenancy laws that don’t apply to short-term rentals.
Payment is also a bit different, as it would be impractical for most guests to pay the full amount upfront. The Airbnb platform makes it easy to handle all these extra details, but both hosts and guests should still be aware that longer stays come with a different set of rules and expectations than short-term ones.
How Long-Term Airbnbs Work for Hosts
If you’re already an Airbnb host, you may never have considered renting out your home on Airbnb for a longer term. Certainly, it won’t be the best option for every host, as having a guest for longer than a few nights or a week is a serious commitment.
That being said, long-term Airbnb rentals can take many forms. You could rent out a room of your home for a couple months, which is a lot like having a roommate.
This can be a handy way to subsidize your rent or mortgage, and it’s much easier than having to post a room for rent on platforms like Zillow, Craigslist, and other rental listing sites. Or, you could rent out your entire home, which can be a good option if you’re going on an extended trip.
For instance, if you’re retired and want to spend the winter in a warmer climate, renting your whole house on Airbnb could be a way to pay for your extended vacation.
Business travelers who need a place to stay while on an extended assignment or even college students looking for a place for the semester would all be good prospective renters for this sort of arrangement.
However, if you’re going to host long-term guests with Airbnb, there are a few things you should know beforehand to ensure that the process goes smoothly.
5 Tips for Long-Term Hosting on Airbnb
We know that long-term hosting on Airbnb can seem intimidating or mysterious, so we want to demystify the process and make sure you know what to expect.
Here are our top five tips for long-term Airbnb hosts:
1. Be Aware of Local Rental Laws
For the purposes of this article, we’ll define a “long-term” Airbnb rental as any stay longer than 28 days.
We’ve chosen this duration as it’s the one that Airbnb uses. It’s also the amount that many states and jurisdictions use to determine if a guest has established tenancy rights (though it may be 30 days or even longer in some places).
On this subject, it’s crucial that you understand all local laws related to tenant rights, evictions, and rentals. In particular, you should be aware that, in many states and jurisdictions, someone can establish tenancy in your property if they stay there for longer than 28 days.
What this means in practice is that you may not be able to easily get them to leave if there’s an issue. You may have to formally evict them from the property and go through the court system, which can cost you money and time.
To be clear about the local laws, we suggest consulting both Airbnb’s guide to long-term rentals, the local laws for your city and state, and even a landlord-tenant attorney if you need more specific counsel.
Of course, it’s very unlikely that you’ll ever have to worry about these laws when hosting a long-term guest through Airbnb. One of the benefits of using Airbnb for this purpose is that everyone on the platform is already vetted.
Additionally, you have Airbnb’s backing when it comes to payments, so you don’t have to worry about a rent check bouncing or having to receive certified funds for a security deposit. Instead, you can handle all of this through the Airbnb platform. Still, it’s always better to know the laws governing tenancy in your area just in case an issue ever does arise.
2. Make Your House Rules Very Clear
Having clear house rules and policies in your listing description is always important for Airbnb. However, it’s especially important if you’re going to be having a guest for a long-term stay. Being clear on what you expect of guests (and what they can expect of you) will ensure that you can prevent any problems before they arise.
In particular, your house rules should lay out expectations regarding the following:
Do you live on the property? Are you able to assist guests with questions or issues directly, or is there someone else they need to contact?
Your Interaction With Guests
This is especially important if you’re just renting out a room. You should let guests know if you like to socialize with them or if you’re just there in case they have a serious problem.
Do you allow smoking on the property? If so, where is it allowed?
Are guests allowed to bring pets? Do you have any pets yourself? This is important to note for even short-term rentals, but it’s even more important for long-term stays, as this can be a dealbreaker for some prospective guests.
When a guest is staying with you for a few months, the availability of amenities such as laundry, parking, WiFi, and other facilities become even more important. Be sure to be clear about what you have in these departments, and ideally put pictures of them in your listing.
Make sure that guests understand that all bookings longer than 28 nights are subject to Airbnb’s Long-Term Cancellation Policy. Under this policy, payment for the first month is due when guests make the booking and is non-refundable even if the guest decides to cancel before the booking starts.
Additionally, if the guest decides to cancel the remainder of the reservation during their stay, they’ll still have to pay for the 30 days following their cancellation (or the remainder of the reservation, if there are less than 30 days remaining in the booking).
Rental Agreement Requirements
For stays longer than 30 days, you may want to have your guest sign a rental agreement just to insure yourself against potential issues.
If you decide to have one of these, make it very explicit in your house rules what sort of agreement they need to sign, how they’ll sign it, and what the agreement states.
3. Understand How Payments Work for Long-Term Stays
When a guest stays with you for a short period, it’s customary for them to pay the entire amount upfront. With longer stays, however, the arrangement will work more like an apartment rental, with a guest paying a set amount each month.
For all long-term reservations, your guest will be responsible for paying for the entire first month of their stay when they book. You’ll receive this payment 24 hours your guest’s check-in. After that, Airbnb will automatically charge the guest’s credit card each month of their stay (counting from the beginning of the reservation).
For instance, if a guest checks in on March 21 and is staying for 2 months, you’ll get the payment for the period of March 21 to April 21 on March 22. The guest will then be charged on April 21 for the period of April 21 to May 21.
The details of this can vary in reality based on the dates (Airbnb can’t process credit card payments on non-business days, for instance), but this is the basic outline of how the policy works. To learn more, consult Airbnb’s guide to long-term reservation payments.
4. Carefully Screen Prospective Guests
You should always be sure to carefully examine a guest’s profile before accepting them for any Airbnb reservation. However, this particularly important for longer stays, as it will help you avoid problems.
Be sure to check a guest’s profile for the following:
- Verified phone number
- Verified email address
- Verified personal info
Here’s an example of what a profile will look like with all of these verified:
In addition, be sure to check for reviews from other Airbnb stays a guest has had. Look for any comments about poor treatment of a home or other disrespectful conduct. Here are some examples of what Airbnb reviews from hosts look like:
Generally, Airbnb will ban a guest from their platform if a host reports them for misconduct. Still, it’s a good idea to check the guest’s reviews to be safe. If a guest has no previous reviews or just joined Airbnb, then we don’t recommend accepting them for a long-term booking.
However, you should use your best judgment. If something seems suspicious or doesn’t feel right, don’t accept the guest’s booking; you’re under no obligation to do so.
5. Have a Local Contact (If You Don’t Live on the Property)
Our final tip for hosting guests long-term is to have a local contact who can assist your guest with issues. This mainly applies if you’re renting out your place while you’re out of town. However, it could even be handy if you’re using Airbnb to rent out an investment property you own in your city.
The appeal of Airbnb is that it allows you to earn a somewhat passive income from the place you live. If you’re renting your place out while you’re on vacation, the last thing you want to worry about is having to respond to constant guest messages.
To help with this, it’s a good idea to have a local contact that guests can go to with questions or problems. The person you choose for this is up to you. If you have a friend or family member whom you trust to manage your listing, then you can simply offer to pay them (or even let them stay in part of your property for free) while you’re away.
Alternatively, you can look into using a professional property management company. These companies have the benefit of being experts at the business of managing rentals, but they can have the downsides of costing more and providing a less personal experience for your guest than an individual.
Ultimately, you need to research both options and decide what works best for you. Above all, ensure that the option you choose provides a guest experience that will lead to positive reviews.
How Long-Term Airbnbs Work for Guests
We’ve talked a lot so far about how long-term Airbnb rentals work from the perspective of a host, but what about if you’re a guest looking for a long-term Airbnb rental? There’s not quite as much you need to know about the process as a guest, but there are still a few things to keep in mind:
1. Understand If a Long-Term Airbnb Is Right for Your Needs
Staying in an Airbnb can present an appealing alternative to traditional apartment rental. If you’re a digital nomad who visits a new city every few months, for instance, then staying in an Airbnb provides far more flexibility than a sublet or other rental agreement.
It’s much easier to screen the property from a distance, so you can already know what you’re getting into before you even land in the city you’re visiting. Plus, it avoids having to deal with local currency issues and other rental complexities that you might encounter when getting a place in another country.
Even if you’re not a jet-setting digital nomad, long-term Airbnbs can still be useful. If you’re moving to a new city for work, then booking an Airbnb for a month or two can provide you with a place to stay while you get settled in your job and look for a more permanent apartment rental. It will certainly be cheaper than staying in a hotel for an extended period of time, and you might even be able to get your company to pay for it if they provide relocation assistance.
Of course, there are some situations where a long-term Airbnb may not be the best situation for your needs. If you haven’t used the platform for stays before, it can be tricky to get hosts to accept you for a long-term stay.
Additionally, you may pay more for a long-term Airbnb property than you would if you rented directly from a landlord. This is especially true because Airbnb takes a cut of what you pay, while direct rentals avoid that middleman.
You’ll need to decide if it makes sense to use Airbnb for your situation, or if another option would be better. In general, it tends to be an appealing and convenient option, but that convenience does come with an extra cost.
2. Review Your Host’s Profile Carefully
If you’re committing to staying in someone’s home for a long period of time, you need to make sure that they’re a trustworthy person. The best way to do this is to have a look at your prospective host’s profile.
Be sure to check for the following verified info in your host’s profile:
- Verified phone number
- Verified email address
- Verified personal info
Here’s an example of a host profile with all this information verified:
Also, check the host’s reviews. In particular, look for reviews of the property where you’ll be staying. Take comments with a grain of salt (some people are just picky or don’t properly read the listing description), but look for anything that might suggest that the property is unsafe or not as advertised.
Here are some examples of host reviews:
3. Understand the Long-Term Cancellation Policy
We discussed it above in the tips for long-term Airbnb hosts, but it’s worth repeating here. You need to understand how Airbnb’s long-term cancellation policy works before you commit to a property for the long-term.
To start, know that once you’ve booked a long-term property, your first month’s payment is non-refundable, even if you cancel before the booking starts. So make sure you’re serious about your trip and stay before you press “Book.”
Also, know that you need to give 30 days notice if you want to cancel during your reservation. And when you do cancel, you’ll still be responsible for paying for the remaining 30 days you have booked (or the entirety of the reservation, if the remaining time is less than 30 days).
Your host can choose to override this policy and give you a refund for your unused time, but they’re not obligated to do so.
4. Review the House Rules Before Booking
Our final tip for long-term Airbnb stays is to carefully review the house rules of where you’re staying. If you’re going to be in someone’s home for several months, you need to be sure you can abide by their rules.
Here are some things to look for:
Host Contact Information
Check how you’ll contact your host if you have a problem (or if they have another person you should contact instead).
If you smoke, be aware if you’re allowed to do it on the property (and if so, where it’s allowed).
If you have pets, make sure you’re allowed to bring them, and clearly communicate that to your host. And see if the host has pets. They should mention this in their description, but you should also feel free to message them about it if you have any concerns.
What does the property provide to you as a guest? Is there on-site laundry, or will you need to go to a laundromat? Is there WiFi? Do you share the bathroom with your host or other guests?
Some long-term Airbnb bookings may require a security deposit. This is similar to a security deposit for an apartment booking. Also, never make any security deposit or other payments outside of Airbnb. All payments related to an Airbnb listing should be handled through Airbnb, as it helps keep both you and your host secure.
Be sure to review all the rules and ask your host for clarification if anything is unclear. It’s better to find out that they have a policy you don’t agree with before you book than to book the listing and find yourself bound by the policy after the fact.
Long-Term Airbnb FAQ
To conclude our guide to long-term Airbnbs, here are answers to some common questions about extended Airbnb stays:
1. Can I get a discount for staying at an Airbnb long-term?
In general, yes. It’s up to your host to decide how they want to price their long-term rentals, but most hosts offer a discount if you book for more than one month.
You’ll be able to see the monthly rate (if applicable) before you book the property. Here’s an example of a listing that provides a 25% monthly price discount:
2. Can I pay for long-term Airbnbs in cash?
No, you cannot. All payments must be made via debit or credit card through Airbnb. If a host tries to get you to do otherwise, you should report them to Airbnb.
3. Is there a limit to how long I can stay in an Airbnb?
Theoretically, no. You can stay for as long as your host will allow you to book.
4. How can I get help with an Airbnb guest who refuses to leave?
While very unlikely, it is possible that a guest could book your place and then attempt to use local tenancy laws to extend their stay beyond the amount of time they’ve booked. If this happens, you can contact Airbnb 24/7 for assistance.
5. How do I set a monthly price discount for my Airbnb listing?
Offering guests a monthly price discount is an effective way to entice guests to say for longer periods of time. But Airbnb doesn’t offer a monthly price discount by default — you have to set it yourself.
Luckily, setting the discount is easy and only requires a few steps:
- View your listings on Airbnb and choose the listing you want to set the discount for.
- Click where it says Manage listing.
- Click where it says Pricing at the top of the page.
- Click Edit next to where it says Length-of-stay prices.
- Enter the monthly discount you want to use (as a percentage).
- Once you’ve entered the discount, click Save to finalize your changes. Guests will now be able to see the discount when they choose to book your place for longer than a month.
If you want to get even more tips on how to be an excellent Airbnb host, check out our guide to the best host tips for getting started on Airbnb. And for more advice on how you can use price discounts (and other methods) to increase your Airbnb income, have a look at our guide to earning more money with Airbnb.
Use Long-Term Airbnbs to Stay (or Earn)
Whether you’re an Airbnb guest or host, we hope this guide has helped you understand how long-term Airbnb stays work. At the end of the day, you should know that Airbnb is always there to assist both guests and hosts with any questions regarding long-term stays. They want to make the process as easy as possible, and they have the resources in place to make it so.
If you’re a host or guest looking to rent or list a place for the long-term, Airbnb isn’t your only option. We also recommend checking out our guides to HomeAway and VRBO, which both offer similar options and have their own distinct set of benefits.