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  • James von der Lieth

6 Things to Know Before Signing Up For Airbnb's Coronavirus Housing Program

The mainstream media tends to take their lead from Airbnb's PR team and give most of the credit to Airbnb for helping to house 100,000 COVID-19 responders. Clearly Airbnb deserves some credit for developing the program, foregoing their service fees on the first 100,000 bookings, and subsidizing an unknown amount of emergency worker stays. However, if you examine the program closer, it's clear that the hosts, property managers and property owners are making the biggest sacrifices to offer their houses to Coronavirus Emergency Workers.

A few Airbnb hosts have become further irritated with the lack of credit Airbnb hosts and property owners are getting during Airbnb's coronavirus PR campaign.

Here are the 7 Sacrifices Airbnb hosts are making to offer their homes to the coronavirus housing effort.

#1 Huge Liability Risk

As we've seen over the last couple weeks, this pandemic is all uncharted territory. Airbnb doesn't have unlimited cash, and in the event of barrage of "wrongful death" lawsuits, who knows how Airbnb's $1 million host liability insurance would be able to help with lawsuits. Airbnb has already shown they are pro-guest when it comes to gray-area matters, and there is a huge degree of uncertainty to how home owners and property managers would be liable in a worst case scenario.

At the end of the day, insurance policies can be extremely fickle on how they handle "black swan" events like this. Home owners and property managers who participate in this program are accepting huge liability risks to help during this crisis.

#2. Hosts are Unable to Accept Any Non-Emergency Worker Bookings As Long As Their House is Part of the Coronavirus Housing Program

This is one that was very unclear when Airbnb announced their initial program last week. After a few days of going back and forth with support, I finally got a clear answer: Hosts are prevented from taking future reservations as long as their property is part of the program.

#3 Risk of Irritating Residential Neighbors & Local Communities

Airbnb has already had their fair share of run-ins with angry neighbors and disgruntled local communities over the years. (Often times, the rental arbitragers give the whole market a bad name). Imagine being a high-risk Covid-19 person, or a family with kids living in a condo building, already irritated by Airbnb renters. All of the sudden, you find out that emergency workers with a high-risk of coronavirus are paying to stay in your building as part of the program. This could definitely lead to deteriorating relationships with neighbors and local STR laws.

#4 Cap on Monthly Revenue

According to Airbnb, "An initial booking is limited to 30 days or $1,800, whichever comes first. As a reminder, by signing up for the program, hosts agree to allow guests to finish their reservation and/or stay for the length of time they need to heal or self-isolate. In the event that someone needs to extend their stay, we’ll work with hosts to find a solution."

#5 Must Leave 72 hours Between Stays

This means that in addition to lower revenue, hosts are also accepting lower occupancy rates to help with this program.

#6 Some Home Owners are Giving Their Property Away For Free

In addition to the above sacrifices, there are some property owners and managers who are taking a loss on their property in order to help with the national effort.

Bottom Line

Let's not discount the heroic role Airbnb hosts and property managers are playing to help with affordable, safe housing during this coronavirus crisis. Ultimately, full house STR are safer for isolating in than hotels with high-risk common areas like elevators and lobbies. This is an extremely difficult situation for everyone involved, and STR owners and managers are stepping up to the plate big time.

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