MINNEAPOLIS — University of Minnesota students are turning to short-term rental services such as Airbnb to ease living expenses and tuition costs.

University of Minnesota graduate student Estelle Smith used her inheritance to buy a two-bedroom house last year, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported . She opted to rent out her upstairs bedroom and basement spaces through Airbnb.

Smith said she earned about $20,000 through the rentals, which has helped her cover home repairs, taxes and living costs.

“Airbnb lets me break even,” Smith said.

Students who use the service to rent spaces say it accommodates their busy schedules.

The Minneapolis City Council recently approved regulations on short-term rentals in anticipation of the Super Bowl, which is expected to draw thousands of visitors to the area. Smith said she’s listed her home at $2,000 per night for the weekend of the Super Bowl.

The regulations require hosts who live at their property but rent out the whole unit and leave during the rental period to pay a $46 short-term rental registration fee. Hosts who don’t live on the property and rent out the entire unit would be required to get a short-term rental license.

Smith lives at the property while leasing her extra space, so she won’t be required to pay a fee or get a license.

“We needed to have some form of parity between Airbnb hosts and hotel operators so the regulations applied to hotels would not be arbitrary,” said Ward 3 Minneapolis City Council Member Jacob Frey, who authored the ordinance.

The fee could deter students under financial stress from renting spaces, said Rose Olson, a medical student at the university who rents her room at a duplex while traveling for a research project.

“It overall makes using Airbnb less attractive, especially for someone who doesn’t have a ton of extra cash,” Olson said.


Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com