What Is An Airbnb Style Rooming House
They Are Sometimes Called Boarding Houses, Lodging Houses Or Single Room Occupancy Units!
An Airbnb style rooming house is a business that rents out four individual rooms or more in the same building or house without a license.
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They are sometimes called boarding houses, lodging houses, or single room occupancy units (SROs).
Individual renters usually have their own separate room and their own agreement with the landlord.
For example, you may stay for just a few days, but another renter may stay for 3 months.
Rooming houses with four or more renters at the same time must be licensed.
Some cities and towns have local protections for renters in rooming houses.
Airbnb Style Rooming House Landlords
As an Airbnb style landlord, you must:
- Provide one bathroom with a toilet, sink and shower or bathtub for every eight rooming house renters.
- Clean the bathroom every 24 hours if you share a bathroom with other renters.
- Provide automatic smoke or heat detectors.
- Provide sprinklers, if there are 6 renters or more.
- Provide you a room that is at least 80 square feet or 60 square feet per person if you share the room with another person.
- Correct unhealthy conditions, like mice, rats, bedbugs, or cockroaches.
- Make needed repairs without charge, unless you caused the damage.
- Get your permission to enter your room to make repairs – unless it is an emergency.
- Give you privacy. The landlord is only allowed to enter your room if you give them permission, if it is an emergency, or if they have a court order.
- Not lock you out of your room.
- Get a court order to evict you. Important! Even if you get evicted the landlord is not allowed to keep your belongings.
Airbnb Style Rooming Houses Cooking Area Rules
The landlord does not have to provide a common kitchen area for renters.
But if they do, the kitchen must have a sink, stove, oven, storage space, and refrigerator.
Where there are between 6-19 renters, the landlord may provide a kitchenette in your room.
But your landlord can only provide a kitchenette if your room is 150 square feet or larger.
Individual kitchenettes must have:
- Hot plate
- Sink with hot and cold running water.
If your room connects to another renter’s room, the kitchenette must also have a food storage area.
Airbnb landlords may provide you with a microwave in your room or common areas.
Your room and the common areas must be safe and sanitary.
If there is a problem, ask your landlord to fix it.
A landlord cannot evict you for asking to make a repair.
If they try to do that, it is retaliation and illegal.
If you ask the landlord to fix a problem and they refuse, put your request in writing.
You can also report the problem to the local Board of Health.
They should come inspect the problem and give the landlord a report that orders them to make the repair.
If the landlord still does not fix the problem, you have other options that are more complicated and depend on the length of time you have lived there.
If you have lived at the rooming house for 30 days or less, the landlord may file an eviction case against you without any notice.
If you have lived there more than 30 days, the landlord must give you a 7-day eviction notice if they want to evict you.
If you have lived there 3 months or more, the type of eviction notice depends on the reason for the eviction:
§ 7-day Notice for damaging property orcausing a nuisance.
§ 14-day Notice if you owe rent.
§ 30-day Notice for any other or no reason.
If a judge makes an order to evict you:
§ You may ask the court for a reasonable accommodation to stay if you have a disability that relates to the eviction.
§ You may ask the court for more time so you can find another place to live.
§ You may appeal the court’s decision.
Department Of Mental Health Housing
If you are in a Department of Mental Health (DMH) program, you have extra legal protections against eviction.
You have the right to a hearing. It may be in court or at the DMH.
DMH must make sure you have another place to live before you are evicted.
Legal Tactics: Tenants Rights Airbnb Style Rooming Houses
If you live in an Airbnb rooming house, you have rights—despite what your landlord or others may tell you.
For example, if you have lived in a rooming house for one day, one week, or one month, an owner cannot lock you out of your room without permission from a judge.
What rights you have depend on how long you have lived in your Airbnb style rooming house.
In some cases, they will be the same as those of other tenants.
In other cases, they will be different.
This chapter will tell you what your rights are and what steps you can take to protect yourself if you live in a rooming house.
In addition, you may need to learn about laws that protect tenants in general and to read other chapters in this guide.
As you read, keep in mind that the rights of Airbnb style rooming house residents are not cast in stone and continue to change.
Avoiding The Licensing Process
Sometimes, a person operating a lodging house may try to avoid the licensing process because it can be expensive to meet the requirements.
If a landlord is cited for running a rooming house without a license, it does not necessarily mean that the landlord must obtain a license or that all tenants have to move out.
Instead, a landlord could comply with the law by renting rooms to three or fewer lodgers so as not to need a license.
On the other hand, some local enforcement agencies have tried to use the state law to require a lodging house license when four or more unrelated roommates rent a whole place together (as opposed to four people each renting a room individually).
This is not correct.
Tenants living together as a single housekeeping unit should not be considered lodgers.
Some cities and towns may have their own local definition of a “lodging house” and; there may also be local restrictions on certain living arrangements in areas zoned for family dwellings.
For example, some zoning codes prohibits more than five undergraduate students from sharing rental housing in family-zoned areas.
Check with your local zoning office or Board of Health to see if your community has local ordinances or orders that apply to rooming houses.
It is important to understand, as a renter, whether there are any local ordinances that may affect your rights if any action is taken against your landlord for not having a lodging house license.
Also, as a renter in a lodging house, it is important to know that licensed lodging houses can be inspected by licensing authorities and by the police upon request by the licensing authorities.
An operator of a lodging house can be required to keep a register of the names of all lodgers.
Such a register may also be inspected by licensing authorities and the police.
Special Housing Conditions For Airbnb Style Rooming Houses
The requirements of the state Sanitary Code generally apply to rooming houses just as they apply to apartments.
For example, in an Airbnb style rooming house—just as in an apartment—the owner is responsible for providing heat and hot water, exterminating, and making repairs.
There are three situations where the state Sanitary Code has different requirements for rooming houses.
⦁ Floor space.
A rooming house owner is not required under state law to provide cooking facilities in a rooming house.
However, if the owner chooses to provide common cooking facilities, they must include a sink, a stove, an oven in good repair (unless you agree to provide the stove and oven in a written lease agreement), space for food storage, and a refrigerator.
An Airbnb style rooming house owner can provide individual cooking facilities only in individual rooms that have a floor space of at least 150 square feet.
If an owner provides individual cooking facilities, then they must include a gas or electric plate, a refrigerator, and a sink with hot and cold running water.
If the space you rent has cooking facilities and two adjoining rooms, then the landlord must provide a gas or electric range, a refrigerator, a sink with hot and cold running water, and storage area for your food.
Microwave ovens are permitted in lodging house rooms or common areas.
A landlord must provide a toilet, washbasin, and a shower or a bathtub for every eight rooming house occupants.
If the bathroom facilities are shared, the landlord is responsible for cleaning them every 24 hours.
A landlord may choose to provide separate bathroom facilities for each room, but is not required to do so.
A rooming house room used for sleeping only (no individual cooking facilities) must have at least 80 square feet of space for a single person and 60 square feet for each person when two or more share a room.
As stated above in the section on Cooking, if your room has individual cooking facilities, it must be at least 150 square feet.
What Rights Do You Have?
Rights Of All Rooming House Residents
No matter how long you have lived in a rooming house, you have the following rights:
- The right to report bad housing conditions
- The right to a hearing in front of a judge before the owner can evict you. You do not have to move out until a judge says you do, and only a constable can physically remove you.
- The right to ask a judge to hold off on evicting you until you find another place to live. Although a judge is not required to give you extra time, it is within their discretion. It will be harder to get more time if your eviction is for non-payment of rent or a reason that is your fault, or if you have lived in the rooming house for less than three months. However, if you need more time, ask for it.
- The right to appeal a judge’s decision against you in an eviction case.
In addition, all rooming house residents have the following protections:
You Cannot Be Locked Out
If you legally occupy your room, which means you moved in with the permission of the owner, the owner cannot lock you out of your room or the rooming house.
If the owner asks you to leave or gives you an eviction notice (notice to quit), you do not have to move out.
After an owner gives you a notice to quit, she must file a court case and get a judge’s permission to evict you.
If the owner locks you out or attempts to lock you out of your room or the rooming house, the owner has violated the law.
If you have to go to court to get back in, a judge can order the owner to allow you back in and can order the owner to pay you money (damages) equal to three months rent or more.
Evictions, Lockouts And Utility Shut-offs
It is also illegal for an owner of a rooming house to keep your belongings for any reason.
You can go to court and ask a judge to order the landlord to give you back your things.
Report Bad Conditions
You have the right to report bad conditions to the owner or a Board of Health inspector.
You also have the right to take legal action against the rooming house owner for conditions that violate the state Sanitary Code.
Getting Repairs Made
While reporting bad conditions to the authorities is your right, and in most cases is encouraged, you should first check to see if your landlord has a lodging house license.
If your landlord does not have a proper license, an nforcement agency (such as the Board of Health) may order your landlord to make repairs, and could require the landlord to stop any illegal occupancy (which could put you and other roomers at risk of being required to leave), or to obtain a lodging house license.
You may want to write to your landlord to request that repairs be made, or seek legal advice before deciding whether to request an official inspection.
Retaliation Is Illegal
Retaliatory evictions are illegal.
An example of a retaliatory eviction would be if a rooming house owner attempts to evict you because you have complained to the Board of Health about conditions in your building.
Repair And Deduct
If your landlord refuses to make repairs after you notify them in writing about conditions that violate the state Sanitary Code, you have the right to make repairs and deduct the cost of repairs from your rent.
If you have lived in your rooming house for less than three months, this may involve complex legal arguments for which you may need to consult a lawyer.
In order to be eligible for rent deduction for repairs, you must first notify the landlord in writing about the existence of the violations.
Right To Privacy
You have the same right to privacy as othertenants.
A landlord is not allowed to just enter your room and/or apartment.
But you must allow a landlord access to the apartment after the landlord gives you reasonable notice that she wants to enter the apartment to make repairs.
While a licensed rooming house is subject to inspection, this does not mean that anyone (a government official or your landlord) can enter your room without your permission (except with a court order, or in case of emergency).
If you are a person with a disability and your disability is related to the reason for your eviction, you may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation that might allow you to resolve occupancy problems and stay as a resident in the rooming house.
Evictions And Discrimination
Rights Based On Your Length Of Occupancy
Not all rooming house residents have the same rights.
The rights you have in addition to those already described in this chapter depend upon how long you have lived in the rooming house.
Have you lived there:
⦁ More than 3 months in a row (3 consecutive months)?
⦁ Between 30 days and 3 months?
⦁ 30 days or less?
Your answer will determine which laws protect you.
More Than Three Months
If you have lived in the same rooming house for more than three consecutive months (three months in a row), you are a tenant at will.
A tenant at will is a person who rents a place with permission of the owner of the rooming house, but most likely without a written agreement.
As a tenant at will, you have the right to:
- Withhold your rent if the room or rooming house is in poor or unhealthy condition. Make repairs and deduct the cost of repairs from your rent. If you choose to do this, there are strict rules to be followed.
- Advance notice in writing (notice to quit) from the owner if she decides to evict you. If you are up to date on your rent and you are not being evicted for fault, the owner must provide 30 days notice. If the owner is evicting you for nonpayment of rent, you are entitled to 14 days’ notice to quit. If, however, you pay your rent on a daily or weekly basis and you are being evicted for nuisance, substantial damage, or serious interference with the rights of the owner or other roomers, then you are only entitled to a 7-day notice.
- Receive at least 1 year’s advance notice if your rooming house is being converted to a condominium. Low- and moderate-income people, elderly, and people with handicaps are entitled to a 2-year advance notice. Check to see if there is a local ordinance that provides longer notice periods.
Between 30 Days And Three Months
If you have lived in a rooming house for less than three consecutive months, but more than 30 days, the following is a breakdown of what rights you do and do not have under current law.
Rights you do have:
- You may have the right to make repairs and deduct the cost of repairs from your rent.
- You have the right to receive only a 7-day (not a 14- or 30-day) written notice (notice to quit) from the owner prior to an eviction hearing in court.
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