Real Estate

You Can Make More Money Listing Your Basement on Airbnb Than Renting It Out

Illustrations by Diego Patino.

The strategy of renting your English basement to help cover a mortgage still holds, only now you might make more money leasing it nightly than monthly.

The industry analysis firm Airdna says DC Airbnbs rent for $130 a night on average. One Mount Pleasant resident who asked not to be named (his rental isn’t licensed) keeps his one-bedroom basement booked solid for about $100 a night, or just shy of $3,000 a month after Airbnb takes a 3-percent cut. The monthly rent for a basement in his hood is closer to $2,000.

To comply with DC law, you should get a one-family rental license, which costs $190, and pay taxes on earnings if you lease your space more than two weeks out of the year. But many homeowners get away with doing neither.

Enforcement would increase under a bill pending before the DC Council. It requires Airbnb to verify hosts’ licenses and restricts Airbnb rentals in many buildings. But that could be a good thing if you live above your basement rental. Because owner-occupied buildings are exempt, there’d be fewer properties to compete with for guests.

This article is part of the cover story in our April 2017 issue of Washingtonian, on newsstands now.