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Vacation Renting Inquiry
updated: Aug 05, 2014, 9:15 AM

By Edhat Subscriber

Does anyone have any experience with any of these vacation rental websites, such as AirBnB? I'm thinking of renting out an extra room on a come&go basis, but I'm a little nervous about how the City might react, should they learn of my little endeavor. I know the City wants their bed tax, and I don't want local hotel/motel owners putting a severed horse head in my bed, either. Is it better to keep it on the down-low, or to get a permit? How difficult is it to get said permit, and is it expensive, i.e. counter-productive to the income from renting? What about experiences with guests staying in your home? Are they generally well-behaved/clean, etc., or are "problem guests" a common issue in this arena? Any input on this is appreciated. Thanks.

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 542295 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 09:22 AM

If you rent out for 30 days or more you do not pay bed tax. If you are zoned single family residence you would be in violation of the zoning code to rent out nightly. Make sure you have parking to do this, because that is the first issue you will have with your neighbors. We have had problems with people showing up who "paid" to stay at our home. There are a lot of scammers out there. Be wise. Remember vacationers are on vacation and they want to have a good time. After working 12 hours last week, the VRBO next door partied until 11pm on Thursday. It's very hard to mingle vacationing with working. Good luck.


 COMMENT 542305 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 09:49 AM

One thing you might want to consider is the possibility of guests bringing bed bugs into your home through their luggage. Several large cities have problems, and it's not impossible your guests could inadvertently bring them along.


 COMMENT 542308 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 09:56 AM

These rentals are ruining quiet residential neighborhoods. Our friends rented a lovely home in Monecito for pre-/post wedding events. We had to park on the street in front of the neighbors' homes. We left early but I guess the party got really loud and the cops came. That is just not fair to the neighbors. Cost was something like $4000 for the week. And this place gets rented out throughout the year. I say shut them all down and let people stay in properly permitted, inspected commercial hotels/motels. NYC is finally clamping down on all these illegal rentals. Other cities will follow


 COMMENT 542318 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 10:29 AM

Love it, I pay my entire months payments with people staying for a weekend!! Also have used VBRO to stay in other cities and it is much better than a hotel.


 COMMENT 542321 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 10:55 AM

Both renters and rentees love it when it's done right. Everyone I've talked to who's involved in it says the same thing: Do it right, do it above board, follow the rules, use a reputable website. If you try to fly under the radar you'll attract others who are also trying to fly under the radar. A recipe for disaster. People seem to really like Airbnb.


 COMMENT 542325 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 11:05 AM

it is turning otherwise quiet residential neighborhoods along the coast, in particular, into hotel-motel- zones with transient occupancy and varied, unpermitted uses. I'm sure it is a boon to the property owners. not so much to the neighborhoods


 COMMENT 542328P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 11:08 AM

Though I bought my home long ago, I feel for local renters who find a shrinking inventory of places to live, thanks to AirBnB. Nurses, dental hygienists, employees at UCSB, at Cottage Hospital, teachers, and other service providers are finding it increasingly challenging to find a good place to rent. Must admit the two Air BnB's on our block are well run and never have had loud parties.


 COMMENT 542329 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 11:08 AM

I think it was, either Nightline or 20/20, that did a big report on those vacation rentals. They mostly talked about scammers. And, some renters that don't leave, and won't pay. They turned into tenants, and the owners have to follow legal eviction process.


 COMMENT 542335 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 11:25 AM

I think AirBnB has ratings of renters, so perhaps you can pick and choose. And by living in the property you are essentially choosing a roommate, so I think you aren't regulated by all the fair housing laws. I've been using VRBO for years with no problem by choosing properties with good reviews. We rented a place for visiting relatives on the Mesa and it was a fantastic alternative to the dumpy overpriced hotels that dominate Santa Barbara. The place was kept immaculate and had been thoroughly renovated, it looked much better than the surrounding properties.


 COMMENT 542339 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 11:56 AM

Pretty soon you can bet there will be vacationers renting your neighbors house or attached dwelling. It's easy tax free income.


 COMMENT 542340 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 12:02 PM

A neighbor rents their 2 units on a nightly basis and it is quite annoying to observe the revolving door. There are constantly cars pulling up right outside our door, taxis dropping off, loiterers around the house, voices late at night etc.

The people are usually nice, but it just doesn't fit our quiet Riviera neighborhood, all otherwise owners occupied. I have considered renting out our house because I found them on airbnb and know how much they charge! But knowing the nuisance to the neighbors, I would rather keep our good reputation.


 COMMENT 542371 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 01:26 PM

Just used apartments dot com and airbnb all over eastern Europe. Worked great. One night, the place we rented had a big stereo and a disco ball. We found it very strange -- but then we powered it all up and had a family dance. You don't get that kind of experience at the Marriott.


 COMMENT 542378 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 01:47 PM

@339..it's not tax free money, there is no avoiding paying income tax when you use airbnb, flip key and homeaway. They send the income information to the Feds, you have to claim it or pay penalties. I pay the bed tax to the county on mine, it's been great, doing it for a couple of years now and not one issue. My neighbors are totally fine with it as well. Your home is your biggest investment, why not make it work for you if you are able too!

As for the comment about squatters..total bs scare tactic. They aren't long term renters, if you need someone removed you would just call the police and have them removed. There is no long term rental agreement, in fact there is no real rental agreement at all. They do not have the same rights long term renters at all.

Airbnb and the likes are a blessing for the economy!


 COMMENT 542379P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 01:51 PM

Re #339: If you rent your place out through a legitimate agency such as AirBNB, you'll receive a 1099 reporting your income to you and the IRS. And if you rent short-term to various persons, you report this as self-employment income and not as rental income.

SB is always looking for sources of income. If they haven't done it yet, I'll bet they'll be checking the web sites to determine if the bed tax is being paid and city regulations are being followed.

Not much of a tax-free lunch...


 COMMENT 542386 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 02:16 PM

You can advertise your vacation rental on craiglist to avoid the taxman.


 COMMENT 542391 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 02:30 PM

Just be careful. Google Nightmare Palm Springs AirBnB Renter Refuses to Leave. This was a person that rented for 30 days and he obviously did his homework to scam the owner. Now he won't leave and she has had to hire a lawyer and go to court to get him out.


 COMMENT 542411 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 03:09 PM

Craigslist vacation rentals has on going scammers that the SBPD refuses to do anything about. I tried to file a PD report and was given attitude like I was wasting their time. It was not a waste of time to the family that showed up after paying to stay here and had been scammed.


 COMMENT 542415P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 04:05 PM

If one is going to try to "fly under the radar" to avoid paying taxes to the City and IRS, then he/she is in fact a "scammer" as well as the person who rents and doesn't leave. Why should the police get involved to settle disputes between 2 low-life con-artists?


 COMMENT 542428 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 04:54 PM

Sometimes it's a nuisance for neighbors but the real problem is there is no longer a neighbor there to deal with on common issues such as landscaping, etc. You end up dealing with a third party, the vacationers themselves or a property management company who couldn't care less, they don't live in the hood. Even a regular long-term renter is a neighbor you can talk with about problems, not so with short-term.

But not all situations are alike and renting a room out in your home isn't the same as renting out the whole house. For details on short-term rentals in a room check out the California State Renters Handbook, it has all the info on room rentals in your own home. Sounds risky because the people are just strangers, not recommended by friends etc.


 COMMENT 542439P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 05:17 PM

Airbnb is wonderful. They provide a great service. You can travel and stay with the locals. Cheaper than a hotel, you're usually a bit catered to, and sometimes even get a home-cooked meal.

The problem is these types of non-commercial operations are stealing business from the hotels. The hotel owners/investors are upset and no wonder.

I have heard airbnb is going to be put under the microscope and probably driven out of business. Too bad, because I sure enjoyed the airbnb landlords I met and private homes I stayed in while in Europe last winter. It's such a fun way to travel.


 COMMENT 542441 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 05:21 PM

We've got a vacation rental next door and the issue is that you get a multitude of types in and out and never know what the next renter will be like. Dogs, loud babies, loud kids, loud adults, parties...it used to be nice and quiet with the original owner there. Not no more!

The thing is it's always rented @ $6000 a month for a two bedroom bungalow. Cheaper than a hotel but an annoyance for us.


 COMMENT 542470P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 08:56 PM

Pay no mind to the negative reactionary comments, or at least take them with a grain of salt. Especially the comment about the ONE much-publicized instance of someone squatting in an Airbnb rental. One out of three million.

I rent out my place on the weekends when i'm away, thru Airbnb, and I've had nothing but incredibly warm, life-sharing, positive experiences. Airbnb vetts the renters to a certain extent, and every one of my guests have been couples, families, and people who have been as respectful to my home and my neighbors as I am myself. I would unequivocally recommend offering your place on Airbnb. I've made several friends of the people who have stayed.

I don't pay a bed tax, but i do report the income because Airbnb sends me a 1099.

There is no more chance that a guest will be "loud partying, with screaming kids, and cars coming and going" as there is a person living in a place would expose neighbors to. Maybe less: People who travel tend to be OVERLY conscious of being respectful. Plus, if they are able to travel, they probably are well-off enough to not be "slumming it" in the eyes of many.


 COMMENT 542490 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-06 07:33 AM

470P Wondering if you feel positively, that you are not paying the required bed tax? I agree Air BNB is usually good, but not when people are cheating the tax collector.


 COMMENT 542491 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-06 07:47 AM

When we tried to file a police report It was because our home is not a VRBO. They just used a pic of our home. People show up having paid to rent our home. It is very frustrating when you are being victimized and there is nothing you can do except answer the door to angry people.


 COMMENT 542492 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-06 07:49 AM

Does a rental owner have to change the linens and cleanup every day for a renter who stays let's say 4 days?


 COMMENT 542493 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-06 08:07 AM

Makes you think... if the hotels & motels weren't peddling smelly, dirty poor serviced rooms or ridiculously over-priced nice rooms with tons of hidden charges... would service companies like AirBnB even exist?


 COMMENT 542495P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-06 08:14 AM

I've used VRBO many times and it was always a good experience. No experience with Airbnb.


 BEACHSONG agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-06 10:36 AM

The squatter situation referred to happened in Palm Springs (Goggle it). The AirB&B property owner rented her place out for 30 days. 30 days is the cutoff number for inhabiting a place. The police told her that she had to go through full legal eviction process. The electric bill was huge, as well as they were downloading porn on her cable bill. If you rent, make sure it is for 29 days only.


 COMMENT 542545 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-06 10:59 AM

LOL at all the "cheating the tax man" comments... Do you record every single online purchase where you didn't pay taxes and then like a good little citizen, report those purchases on your taxes? Do you report any money you made selling on Craigslist or a garage sale? etc... There have been studies done already that show cities where AirBNB is being used, have more money from spending. AirBNB also allows you to look at potential guest reviews and you have the choice to allow them to stay or not. Hotels (just like taxi companies) are mad because they haven't adjusted with the times and are now losing to more convenient forms of their services.


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