By Stephen L. Burger, CPM, CRX, CRM
Disintermediation. It’s a word coming more and more into
common parlance as websites of all stripes crop up to do the job formerly done
by intermediaries.As just one example,
when was the last time you walked into a travel agent’s office?
Disintermediation sites are redefining how we do business
and even how we conduct our daily lives. We can buy our contact lenses online,
apply for a mortgage and even find a potential bride or groom. And you can rent
a home or apartment for business or vacation.
Our news today revolves around some of
the alleged horror stories springing up from Airbnb rentals. Frankly we have no
way to verify if these allegations are true—so we won’t repeat them here—and we
would be remiss if we didn’t note that the great majority of transactions made
through the online rental site seem to go absolutely flawlessly.
But that is a numbers game, a game of chance. And it is
precisely because of the high success rate of sites like Airbnb that tenants
and building owners must follow a basic rule of business . . . protect
yourself. Most management companies have built into their leases specific rules
about sublets. But business is changing, becoming a new animal in this
digitized world. And it is the responsibility of the owner and the tenant alike
to ensure that they aren’t risking serious liability through new forms of
In our story we offer a number of different possible
protective measures, including specific language in leases barring sites like
Airbnb completely. To some, that might seem extreme. At the very least, it is a
wise practice to monitor such sites to see if any of your tenants are posting
their units—regardless of what the lease says.
The fact is that you never know what goes on behind closed
doors, even in your own apartment complex. This is why leases and a bulletproof
insurance policy have to do the talking. How does your coverage interact with
that of the tenant? What are their rights and does the language reflect the
changes taking place in the industry as increasingly we find ourselves in a
world of disintermediation? To not ask the question is the most dangerous
position you could take.
Steve Burger, President
EUGENE BURGER MANAGEMENT CORPORATION
As president and COO
of Eugene Burger Management Co., Steve
Burger is directly responsible for the overall quality, depth and
consistency of management services provided in all 15 regions in the EBMC