Why Airbnb Tiny Houses?
I won’t lie, my desire to help teach people how to effectively (and lucratively) host tiny houses as Airbnb’s has garnered some haters. I’ve been in the tiny house movement long enough (over three years) to know that one of the best parts about the movement is that there are so many different types of people that are apart of the movement! When that level of diversity is involved, there are going to be a wide variety of opinions, and a wide range of passion levels regarding those opinions. I’m never going to convince the everyone that Airbnb is actually a good thing for tiny houses, the movement as a whole, and (perhaps most importantly) the communities in which they reside, but I’m going to try and explain my position anyway.
Those who hate tiny house Airbnb’s fall into two categories. The first category of “haters” are Tiny House Purists. “Purists” are those who believe tiny houses should be kept as cheap and simple as possible and who believe they should be allowed to park them anywhere they have the land owners permission to park them. The hate the idea of money entering the tiny house movement as they believe it skews the price and tarnishes the philosophy. The second category of “Haters” are Tiny House Skeptics. “Skeptics” are those who equate tiny houses with RVs and mobile homes and envision single-wides trailers stuffed behind every house and an incremental reduction of their home values the closer their house is to a parked tiny house. Allow me to address each party individually.
I have previously addressed the Puritans with the post For the Record: The Tiny House Movement is NOT About Cheap Houses, but that didn’t really touch on the Airbnb potential of tiny houses. While Puritans may fear that the trend of Airbnbing tiny houses will bastardize the movement, tarnishing their ideological philosophy of personal and financial freedom, the reality is that Airbnbing tiny houses can actually help hosts with both personal AND financial freedom! Sadly, tiny houses are still illegal in most of the country, so neither Puritans or hosts can fully enjoy the benefits of tiny houses yet. It’s for this very reason that Purists should be the biggest advocate of monetarily incentivized tiny house movements like this! I’ll explain why.
We live in a Capitalist society, and one of the side effects of that reality is that the quickest way to get laws changed is to involve people with a monetary incentive to change the laws. Is that cynical? Absolutely. Take a look at this wikihow.com article on how to change a law. Aside from there being a TON of leg-work involved in changing a law, there is also a ton of hobnobbing with local representatives, legislators, lawmakers, etc. Sure, you can get meetings with each of these people and pitch your story about why your tiny house should be legalized, but what’s their incentive to listen and then take action? These types of people are in positions of power because of their relationships with other people in power. People in power almost always have money. People with money (and power) have a much easier time convincing lawmakers to change laws that enable them to make more money. It’s sad but true, and it means the best way to legalize tiny houses, is to let the market do it’s thing and demonstrate the ability to make people money!
Tiny houses are new enough to the scene that there is still a TON of opportunity to monetize them. Just like with traditional housing there is money in the design/architecture of them, the building of them, the provision of appliances, etc but there is also money to be made in the hosting of them, the transport of them (not everyone has the equipment necessary or feels comfortable enough transporting a 15,000+ lb vehicle down the highway), etc.
Honestly, I believe there is no stopping the tiny train now that it’s started, and that’s only good news for hopeful tiny house dwellers because the more interest there is in tiny houses, and the more money there is to be made doing it, the more likely it is they’ll be legalized. (case study: see legalization of marijuana 😉
Tiny houses are not trailers. They aren’t even RV’s, though people like to try and equate them because they’re both on wheels. Most tiny houses are built to look like smaller versions of traditional houses, which enable them to blend in better in residential neighborhoods. It also greatly improves the “curb appeal” of tiny houses over that of RVs or mobile homes. Additionally, tiny homes are built like big houses. They are generally “stick” built with either wood or more recently even steel. They are built to last as long as a traditional house lasts, though they do require a more frequent replacement of tires than a traditional house.:) The same can not be said for RV’s and mobile homes.
While I am not necessarily a proponent of letting just anyone with a parking space host a tiny house, I AM a proponent of letting properties that are already zoned for multiple dwellings host a tiny house. I personally think it’s BETTER if a house hosts a tiny house than if they were to tear up the backyard and physically build a secondary dwelling unit back there. With the tiny house model, you get to increase the occupancy of your property, keep your backyard intact, and when you sell the land and move the tiny house, the property is back to its old splendor. If you are a Skeptic who believes a tiny house is reducing your home value, it’s probably not the result of the house itself, but of people’s fear of what a house on wheels is going to mean for the neighborhood. If this is you, I’d love to hear how you think a tiny house would be worse for your property value than if it was replaced with a guest house or even a second full-sized house. Send me a note or comment below!
Tiny Houses are the PERFECT Airbnb!
Why? They are about the size of a budget hotel room, but have all the necessary amenities and luxuries associated with a full-size house: bathroom, kitchen, sitting area, sleeping space, sometimes even wifi! In the realm of Airbnb, where many of the properties are shared spaces with the homeowners, tiny houses offer a more private setting, a completely contained unit where they can be on the same property as the owners, yet not have to worry about bumping into them in the kitchen while in their underwear (though, I DO have a story about how I almost bumped into a guest butt naked in my kitchen once, ask me about it if we ever meet. It’s hilarious.) When a tiny house is hosted on the same property as the Airbnb host’s property, guests get to enjoy the shared outside space, parking, a residential district, etc., which is a nice contrast to the less personal amenities offered by a hotel, which are generally placed in commercial districts. Also, if they’re on wheels, they can follow the hosts where every they go, so hypothetically, they could take their Airbnb business anywhere! Which is an awesome and pretty unique benefit to tiny houses on wheels.
When a tiny house is hosted on the same property as the Airbnb host’s property, guests get to enjoy the shared outside space, parking, a residential district, etc., which is a nice contrast to the less personal amenities offered by a hotel, which are generally placed in commercial districts. Also, if they’re on wheels, they can follow the hosts where every they go, so hypothetically, they could take their Airbnb business anywhere! Which is an awesome and pretty unique benefit to tiny houses on wheels.
Tiny Houses Can Save The Community
Best of all?! (I saved this for last) Imagine a world where tiny houses were permitted Airbnb’s but if you had one, you could only rent out EITHER the big house or the tiny house to short term rental guests (Airbnb/VRBO/etc.). If you rented out your tiny home you had to either live in the “big house” or rent it to occupants for longer than 30 days (a more traditional rental arrangement) and vice versa. If Nashville did this (a city that is struggling with rental inventory and affordable housing availability) it could increase our rental inventory by thousands of properties!
Allowing tiny houses as Airbnb’s, with regulations restricting the use of the primary dwelling could help keep our communities intact. I currently live in a community where entire houses -new builds- are being bought by professional Airbnb companies and rented to bachelor and bachelorette parties every weekend, turning our residential neighborhood into a place where people visit, not live. The tenants have no investment or connection to the community, they have no reason not to throw their beer cans in the street, puke in the neighbor’s bushes, or keep their noise to a respectable level after our children are in bed. I’m a firm believer that this type of behavior wouldn’t be likely to occur if the owner lived on the property and/or if the rental was a tiny house, which hosts 2-4 people at a time, max.
While I’m not opposed to people renting out their entire homes, I do think that if we could get more tiny houses involved in the mix more hosts would be willing to open up the big house for actual residents while the rental of the tiny houses would maintain the hosts’ income stream resulting in a win/win for all parties!
What do you think? Share your thoughts below!