Ahhhh college... remember those days when you had ramen for every meal? The extent of many student's creativity was adding cheese or cut up bologna to your noodles. These days, university students are getting increasingly creative and entrepreurial and it has many schools and student housing property owners upset. Taking advantage of the shared economy, many students are renting their rooms on AirBnB. So what's the problem?
Why are colleges and property owners up in arms about students renting their rooms on AirBnB?
Relive Your Glory Days
Some students are listing their dorm rooms on AirBnB and appealing to older renters to relive their glorious days at college. While this seems like a quick and relatively painless way to make $320 a night renting out a dorm room, colleges are concerned about the safety issues.
Colleges typically add language to housing agreements that forbid students from renting their dorm rooms. Student housing property managers may also include language in their leases that forbid a tenant from subletting their space. Still others believe that students have a right to creatively earn more money for college and have set up a petition in favor of one such student who may face disciplinary action from his school.
Parents of students and students alike assume that their university homes will offer a sense of security. There are resident advisors stationed in the dorms to make sure students follow house rules. In some cases, there are electronic or biometric keypads for students to gain entry to their residence halls. Students are allowed to have guests, even overnight guests, if approved by the student's roommate and only on a weekend. These rules are set up to ensure the safety of all students.
Renting out a dorm room on AirBnB violates these rules and some safety concerns. With some AirBnB horror stories circulating online, it is easy to see where school administrators and property owners would open up the conversation and perhaps seek disciplinary action on students renting their rooms on the online site.
AirBnB Background Checks
AirBnB states on their website that they "don't routinely perform background checks" but they "reserve the right to". With sites like Uber and eBay, users have grown to expect a certain level of trust from other users in the shared economy. With reviews and ID verification, it is widely assumed that after looking at a profile, working with another user from any of these websites will result in a positive experience.
AirBnB strives to "build the world's most trusted community" with a team to monitor suspicious activity and the ability to report or flag inappropriate activity on the website.
Although rare, some situations have made property owners take note instead of taking the risk. Some have chosen to do their own web searches of potential renters or include a security deposit and rental agreement when renting through sites such as AirBnB or VRBO.
Property owners have the option of screening tenants for student housing and many do to ensure students have the ability to pay rent and utilities on time. Still many run criminal background checks to give themselves peace of mind and for the sake of their neighbors or other tenants in the building. Not every tenant with a criminal record is a bad tenant, however, and with VeriFirst's tenant screening, we assist with defining criteria depending on the tolerance for risk of the property owners.
Many users are pushing for AirBnB to conduct background screens as well. Whether they give in to the pressure or not, college administrators and property managers must refer to their existing housing contracts and weigh the risks of tenants listing their properties for rent. Is an AirBnB listing a hidden opportunity for universities or multifamily property owners to earn more revenue? It remains to be seen.