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 spiesThe ever-popular practice of tenants who profit by subletting a bed in their apartment on a nightly basis to travelers is a nightmare for landlords.

In additional to persistent complaints from fellow residents, many of whom pay a premium to avoid finding strangers in the hallways and elevators of their secure buildings, landlords in some cities have been fined after their tenants violated restrictions on short-term rentals.

At least one landlord recently discovered that when the guests overstay their welcome, they can legally become month-to-month tenants, and must be formally evicted, which can cost about $3,000 on average.

That’s not to mention the extreme — and possibly uninsured — liability landlords face when unscreened strangers hole up in a tenant’s apartment.

Besides these objections, the short-term rental profit game irks landlords who don’t get to share in the spoils. While it’s particularly painful in rent-controlled buildings, because tenants are making more profit than the property owners, the practice can occur in any rental property.

The online listings service Airbnb has been the center of this movement. Landlords need to police their rentals to uncover unauthorized subletting. But that’s not an easy task. The problem: Airbnb does not show the exact address until a property is booked. Also, some tenants report that they are intentionally vague or misleading in their ads because they fear the landlord may be watching. Finding the listings on Airbnb would require far too much detective work to be practical.

Enter Huntbnb.com — the anti-Airbnb website.

Huntbnb reveals Airbnb listings by physical address. The company accomplishes this by capturing Airbnb’s listings data through its available API. Using a proprietary algorithm, Huntbnb can match the address the searcher provides and create a Geofence of a certain radius around it, identifying all the listings in that circle. Then, it filters the listings based on the street name the searcher provided to further narrow down the matches. This greatly improves the chances of finding if a specific rental property is being listed for nightly subletting.

The search result will include a photo of the property as well as a link to the Airbnb listing.

It’s important for all landlords to restrict subletting in the lease agreement.  That way, if you find your property is listed on a short-term rental site, the lease will provide the teeth needed to evict the tenant. A typical provision requires prior written consent of the landlord before new occupants can enter. Make sure to reserve the right to run tenant checks on any new occupants.  Also, a guest policy should address the issue of accepting boarders for profit.

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