Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A housing bonanza on Craigslist

With the crowds expected to descend on D.C. in January, local residents are turning entrepreneurial. While the sale of swearing-in ceremony tickets has been banned, with threats of $100,000 fines and imprisonment, there is a booming market for sublets. As of today, there are over 1,000 Inaugural temporary rentals available on Craigslist.

I talked to one area resident, an executive director of a non-profit (who asked not to be identified), who found a taker for his one-bedroom condo in Cleveland Park. He posted the sublet on Nov. 21 and had one person e-mail him. This weekend, they finalized the deal: $750 per night for three nights, which adds up to more than the rent on the condo for a month.

The D.C. government is supporting its residents' entrepreneurial instincts, with Mayor Adrian Fenty temporarily suspending laws that would make these rentals illegal. From the D.C. government website:

With the 2009 Inauguration less than two months away, hotels and motels in the District are booking up very quickly. On Thursday, Mayor Adrian Fenty announced an Executive Order, temporarily suspending the enforcement of city regulations that require residents to have a basic business license and a certificate of occupancy for short-term leasing agreements on residential property, making way for District residents to rent their homes during the Inaugural period.

The New Republic gathered some of the more extravagant listings on Craigslist by those "trying to cash in on Obama’s victory." One of them is a "rowhouse on 14th and P [that] is going for $10,000 for five nights." I contacted the rowhouse's owner, who said, "I put it up as a total lark. Haven't gotten a single hit, even after being ridiculed in the New Republic."

Rooms for Rent [The New Republic]

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