Can You Use Airbnb for Long-Term Rental Agreements?

If you haven't optimized your listing for long term Airbnb stays, you could be missing out on higher occupancy and a more predictable income.

For many people, the mere mention of Airbnb will elicit visions of vacation beach pads, city-break apartments, and getaway cabins and lake houses. However, it might surprise you to find out that in 2021, 20% of the total nights booked were stays of 28 days or more.

There are many reasons why someone may want to book a vacation home for a month or more. They might be taking an extended vacation, traveling for work, or even working remotely. As host, you may wish to cater to this audience by offering long-term Airbnb lease agreements.

Read on for more on regulations, discounts, and how to optimize your short-term rental for long-term stays.

Short-term vs long-term Airbnb rental agreements

Originally built with short-term rentals in mind, Airbnb still primarily caters to stays that range from 1-27 nights. Many hosts manage properties that serve as a good landing pad for weekend trips, family vacations, and one-off stays for events or festivals. Hosts in touristy areas or a bustling downtown area may experience low vacancy rates and increased rental income due to the high demand for short-term rentals in these places.

For those guests who need to stay somewhere for a longer period of time, Airbnb offers shared spaces or properties that can be stayed in for longer. These are available to book for anywhere from 28 nights and can be booked for months at a time.

Benefits of long-term stays

Long-term stays can offer you a more hands-off hosting experience as you deal with a lower guest turnover. Other benefits include:

  • More predictable income
  • Less time spent dealing with arrivals and departures
  • More stability for your neighbors as there are fewer people coming and going
  • Long-term guests may be more incentivized to take care of the property

Drawbacks of long-term stays

While setting your listing up for long-term stays may bring some benefits, it still pays to be aware of some of the risks involved:

  • You may not make as much money per night as you would with a short-term stay
  • Not ideal for hosts who prefer the flexibility of short-term guests
  • Guests may expect additional amenities (e.g. better wifi for working)

Can you offer discounts for long-term Airbnb stays?

Deciding to stay in any property for a significant amount of time is a big commitment to make for any giest, especially when there are so many options available.

In order to encourage longer stays, Airbnb allows hosts to set up different discounts for weekly (7-27 days) or monthly stays (28 nights or longer). As the host, you are able to choose the amount of discount you offer, whether it’s a fixed rate or a percentage. Once you set the discount, Airbnb will show you the average price for the stay with a discount, so you can ensure it matches the income you expect.

There is no minimum or maximum discount amount. Nonetheless, it is important to set the right balance in order to offer a great experience for your guests while ensuring that long-term stays are a financially sustainable venture for you.

If you are operating in an area where other hosts are offering generous discounts, you might need to match their offer to keep up with the competition.

How much you should offer for the discount also depends on the location of the property. For example, if it’s in a suburb that is far away from the city, you may need to offer a higher discount to compensate for the inconvenience of being harder to get to.

The season also plays a part here, as you will, for example, probably find it harder to get full-price bookings for a beach house in the middle of winter.

If your long-term Airbnb is a unique property that has a lot of in-demand features, is in the right location and is available during the right season, you may be able to attract sufficient bookings without applying a discount.

Are service fees affected by Airbnb long term rental agreements?

One important thing to note is that the long-term stay discount does not apply to any additional fees like service fees.

In terms of the cleaning fee, you may wish to increase this slightly (in comparison to your short-term rental rates) in order to account for the longer stay. A guest who stays for a month or more is most likely going to leave more to be cleaned than a guest who has only stayed for one night.

Are cancellation policies different for long-term stays?

When hosting a short-term stay on Airbnb, there are a number of cancellation policies that you can choose from. On the other hand, if a reservation is for 28 nights or more, the longer stay cancellation policy applies. As a host, this means that you will need to approve a cancellation if it meets the following Airbnb criteria:

  • It’s before the trip but less than 30 days before the check in date
  • The trip has started but it’s less than 30 nights before the checkout date
  • The guest is changing the check-in date or extending the reservation.

If the cancellation occurs more than 30 days before the check-in date or when the trip has started but there are more than 30 days to the check-out date, the cancellation may be automatically approved.

Airbnb booking

Optimizing your Airbnb listing for longer stays

Aside from introducing a discount for longer stays, there are other things that hosts can do to attract long-staying guests. Some of these are as follows:

Additional reservation preferences

Editing your reservation preferences, such as updating the minimum time between bookings, can help you better manage long-term guests as you have more time to prepare your place between bookings. As your property will be more lived-in after a month, you may need that extra time for doing a deep clean and preparing for the next guest.

Add a guidebook geared towards longer stays

Another way to add value for guests staying for a month or longer is to preempt their needs. A guest staying for a weekend in a city may not think about grocery shopping but a remote worker is more likely to want to stock up on some essentials at some point. You can add extra details to your guidebook for those who are staying longer, such as details of nearby grocery stores, gyms and the garbage collection days.

Amenities for longer stays

Guests who are paying for a longer stay will expect certain amenities to be present. For example, you may wish to provide laundry facilities (including products) and a kitchen that is well stocked in terms of utensils and basic ingredients for cooking (oil, shelf-stable spices, etc).

Furthermore, if you are targeting remote workers, they will need a comfortable place to work and strong, reliable wifi.

Is there a difference between Airbnb long-term rentals and serviced apartments?

While long-term Airbnb lease agreements are often looked after by landlords who self-manage, serviced apartments are typically looked after by property management companies. Additional hotel-like services such as daily cleaning, laundry service and concierge set them apart from standard short and long-term stays.

These serviced apartments can be searched for by guests on the platform.

How and when are hosts paid?

Once you have optimized your listing for long-term stays and have bookings, you can enjoy a reliable source of income for a set period of time.

For long-term stays, guests are not expected to pay the full amount upfront, as payments are instead collected in monthly installments. In line with this, hosts receive the payment for the first month upfront, within 24 hours after the check-in time, and future payments are then released on a monthly basis.

Final words

Airbnb says that encouraging guests to book longer stays could help you achieve higher occupancy with lower guest turnover and a more predictable income. This can make it a great option for hosts who are looking to take advantage of this more hands-off approach.

By taking the time to optimize your listings, you can provide a great place for your guests to stay and save yourself time and stress, giving both of you more time to focus on the important things.

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