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Airbnb unveils new service that allows tenants to sublease apartments for cash

Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Airbnb has unveiled a new service on its platform that will allow renters in the United States to earn extra cash by hosting part-time guests in their apartments.

The popular short-term rental broker announced in a blog post that it has already formed a partnership with nearly a dozen property management companies and secured the service in 175 apartment buildings in about 25 cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Denver, Seattle and Phoenix.

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The listings are being featured on a new page on the Airbnb website called "Airbnb-friendly buildings" -- where tenants have the freedom to sublease space in their apartments.

The company noted that its expansion into subleasing could potentially help millions of middle-class Americans who have been struggling all year due to surging inflation and rising utility costs.

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"As the cost of living continues to rise, renters can use the extra income earned by hosting part-time on Airbnb to contribute to their rent, save for a home, or pay for other living expenses," Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk said.

Rental hosting is not yet being offered in every state as landlords typically frown on such arrangements; plus there are laws that restrict short-term rentals in many major cities, including New York City and Washington, D.C.

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Still, several U.S. property giants have signed on to the potentially lucrative deal, including Equity Residential, and Greystar Real Estate Partners LLC, two of the biggest heavyweights in the industry.

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Landlords stand to gain as much as 20% of total booking revenues, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In many cases, property management companies have restructured leasing agreements to add restrictions on how many nights per month an apartment can be sublet.

Under the arrangement, management companies will maintain control over exactly which apartments are subleased, and will have the power to review apartment listings before they appear on the Airbnb website, and can reject listings that don't meet standards.

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Renters, meanwhile, could earn a steady but variable income through the service, with the platform booking prospective tenants and offering a calculator to show how much money one could make per month.

During the slow-rollout of the service, some sub-renters have made about $100 a night on average after getting as much as $900 for nine nights of hosting per month, Airbnb said.

"It depends on the building, depends on the location, there are a lot of different assumptions," Blecharczyk explained.

The company said it began to recognize subleasing as a viable business after data showed single-room listings on the Airbnb platform surged by 31% in the third quarter as more and more renters turned to subleasing for extra income.

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The timing of the move coincides with snowballing monthly rents that have drained household income for the past several years, and were still at least 10% higher than they were one year ago.

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