Blog posts Rental Arbitrage

Rental Arbitrage San Antonio

Last updated on March 3rd, 2023

Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents


    While San Antonio offers a low cost of living, that should not stop you from adding another stream of income. What if we tell you that you can earn easy money by renting out a property without actually owning it? Rental Arbitrage enables this setup. It is a smart way to earn passive income with only minimal investment!

    In this guide, we’ll explain rental arbitrage in layman’s terms and provide some expert tips. We also included the best areas to do rental arbitrage in San Antonio to help you make the best investment decisions. Stoked to learn more? Continue reading!

    What is Rental Arbitrage?

    Rental Arbitrage is a method similar to house hacking, where you rent out a spare room in your property. The difference between these two is you don’t need to own the house in rental arbitrage. Instead, you convince the property owner to allow you to sublease the house on Airbnb and VRBO.

    Rental arbitrage in San Antonio is applicable to any type of residential real estate. These can be multi-room apartments, houses, condo units, duplexes, and triplexes. It is a smart way to add a stream of income through the short-term rental of your subtenants. This allows you to pay your own rent and earn more. 

    Assuming you are renting a duplex in San Antonio for $1,800/month. You are living by yourself on either side and you decide to sublease the other on Airbnb. Let’s say you listed it for $100/day and got 80% occupancy. This will bring in approximately $2,600 per month in revenue. Not only will it fully cover your rent, but it will give you a profit of $800. This, in a nutshell, is called rental arbitrage.

    Learn more about corporate lease through this ultimate guide for STR investors!

    Is Airbnb legal in San Antonio?

    Yes! Investors just need to apply for a short-term rental permit for Airbnb operations in San Antonio.  You can expect to receive your permit within 5 business days. This non-transferrable permit is required for each Airbnb property and is valid for 3 years.

    2 Types of Short-Term Rentals in San Antonio:

    San Antonio defines a short-term rental as a property for rent out to overnight guests for less than 30 consecutive days. San Antonio has 2 types:

    • Type 1 Short-Term Rental Permit is subject to the following conditions:
      • The primary house of the owner or operator is on the property.
      • There are no density restrictions.
    • Type 2 Short-Term Rental Permit i is subject to the following conditions:
      • The property is not occupied as the owner’s or operator’s principal house.
      • It is permitted by right but with density restrictions of up to 12.5% of units on a block face.
      •  If the property is in a multi-family structure, it cannot be more than 12.5% of the total number of units on the property. However, you request a special permit from the Board of Adjustment if your Airbnb business will exceed this percentage.
    Requests for permits

    For both types of STR licenses, you must produce proof of ownership documents. You’ll also need to show that the listing is your principal house for Type 1.

    • A $100 application fee, which is payable online by credit card or e-check
    • A floor plan sketch that shows sleeping spaces, the most number of visitors, any escape routes, and the location of fire extinguishers
    • Owner authorization. For rental arbitrage, please a notarized authorization from the owner.
    • The exception grant from the Board of Adjustment (if applicable)

    How do I get into rental arbitrage?

    1. Convince the landlord

    Let’s say you want to get into rental arbitrage. Now comes the big question, how to find a good property and how to convince the landlord. Later in the blog, we’ll be explaining how to find a good property by doing proper research using Airbnb analytics. In this section, we will be focusing more on how to convince landlords. As you’ll begin your rental arbitrage journey, you’ll come to know that this is the hardest part of the whole process.

    You need to be prepared and well-researched about the Airbnb demand in your area. Good communication skills will also come in handy here. Another thing to always keep in mind: never sublease without informing the landlord! There will be a huge number of people coming in and out when you’re sub-renting. It will only be a matter of time before the landlord figures out what you’re up to, and you might end up getting in trouble. 

    For convincing the landlord, rule number one is always talking about the upsides. If you can rent the property on Airbnb, so can the landlord himself. You need to make a deal with the landlord that is beneficial to them. So they lease the property to you instead of renting it by themselves.

    Points to tell an indecisive landlord.
    • Doing rental arbitrage is a full-time business. It doesn’t generate passive income like long-term leasing. You should try approaching older people who are looking for some sort of passive income.
      They are more likely to agree to a fixed long-term lease. You can also reach out to full-time working professionals or business owners. They will also be happy with a source of passive income until their property is well maintained. This brings us to our next point.
    • You’ll take care of the house better than a normal renter. As you are using the property for Airbnb, you will maintain it very well to make sure you get better reviews. Having a beat-up property isn’t good for business and you are more likely to monitor it often. 
      Not monitoring it will affect your revenue a lot. You may end up paying a huge sum of money for damages done by someone else. So telling this to the landlord might instill some confidence in them.
    • You can ensure timely monthly rent. You can tell the landlord that doing Rental Arbitrage is a full-time business with ups and downs. It doesn’t guarantee fixed income at all like long-term leasing. But if they lease it to you, you’ll make sure to pay the lease no matter what. Either from the money made after rental arbitrage or from your savings. You need to ensure timely monthly lease payments to gain the trust of the landlord.

    In conclusion, you need to take care of the property like your own. Make sure to timely pay the monthly lease and keep the situation beneficial for both parties. You can also use a free rental arbitrage email template and propose your ideas to landlords!

    2. Ensure the property and gain the landlord’s trust

    Being on the safe side is always a good idea. Use the right tools to ensure the property is safe, and the neighbors can go on with their lives happily while you do rental arbitrage. Many landlords will have this concern when renting out their property to you. They will be worried about neighbors raising noise complaints, and it’s a legitimate concern. To help you with all these problems, here are some suggestions that you can implement: 

    • SimpliSafe – These are home monitoring tools that you can install in the house to make sure no suspicious activity is happening there. Make sure to let the guests know about them and have their consent.
    • Auto host – Automatically screens problematic tenants.
    • Alexa Guard: If you already own an Alexa, you can use its Alexa guard feature to detect parties. It is an inbuilt feature that monitors changes in sound and sends you an alert in case the guests are having a party and making too much noise.
    • InsuraGuest – This insurance and tech company helps you with risk analysis and gives protection beyond Airbnb and VRBO policies.
    • Airbnb Calculator – Give your landlord ease of mind by providing income estimates backed by Airbnb data.

    Pros and Cons

    Be prepared for what you can expect from rental arbitrage in San Antonio:

    • Pros
      • No purchase of property required
      • Low upfront costs
      • Opportunity to repeat and scale easily
      • Generate profit for other investments or business
    • Cons
      • Invest money and time in furnishing the property


    We conducted in-depth research & utilized our Airbnb occupancy rate calculator to feature the occupancy rates of major cities!

    how much can you make on airbnb

    How much does it cost to start arbitrage?

    You can expect to spend anywhere between $3,000 to $5,000. This cost includes deposit, furnishing, amenities, legal paperwork, and LLC Incorporation.

    But doesn’t this contradict the low upfront cost of rental arbitrage? Well, these estimates vary from city to city. There is a possibility to do rental arbitrage for even less than this depending upon your situation and the type of property you lease.

    Still, the amount is much less than investing in a new property and getting a mortgage of thousands of dollars. Plus you won’t be on the hook for property maintenance expenses and being stuck for years with debt.

    But this doesn’t mean that rental arbitrage can be done with zero or on a very tight budget. There will be some upfront costs that you will have to prepare for by having some extra cash on hand. It will help pay off the lease during the off-season.

    Expense 1: Rental Deposits

    A rental deposit is going to be your first major expense. You will need money to be able to sign a long-term lease with the landlord. For that, you will need a security deposit for your first and previous month’s rent. Sometimes you can negotiate with the landlord and use the first month’s rent as a security deposit.

    Expense 2: Furnishing

    Ideally, you should aim to lease a place that is semi-furnished. Furnishing a place from scratch can add anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 to your initial capital. Not choosing the right property can make rental arbitrage not so low cost, so choose wisely.

    If the place is semi-furnished, then your best bet is to shop cheap for the rest of the stuff. You can go and find cheap supplies from places like Home Depot and IKEA. Sometimes even Walmart can have a hidden gem if you look closely.

    Expense 3: Photography

    It’s highly recommended to try DIY photography as a start to save money. You can even learn how to take the best Airbnb photos to highlight your listing! But if you have the budget, hiring a professional photographer is also an excellent option. 

    Expense 4: Cleaning Services

    This is not a starting cost, but you will end up spending on cleaning eventually. The best way to save money is to do it yourself initially if you have the skills and experience.

    If you have no experience or you don’t want to invest time in cleaning a place, then your best bet will be to hire a professional cleaner. This can cost you anywhere from $50 to $250 depending upon the size and location.

    Expense 5: Legal Consultation

    Maintaining a professional relationship with a real estate lawyer can be very helpful in the Airbnb business. Airbnb regulations keep updating and you would need some legal guidance on the way to adjust your business accordingly.

    They can also come in handy if you face any legal issues with the landlord or guests. They can help in damage claims and insurance as well in case of any mishappening.

    Best areas for Rental Arbitrage San Antonio

    Some of the obvious places that you can think of in San Antonio are  Downtown, Southtown, and First Woodlawn Lake. But two of the best choices for rental arbitrage top our list. The first one is:

    1. Tobin Hill
    Rental Arbitrage San Antonio

    According to Airbtics Dashboard, Tobin Hill is the top market to start your rental arbitrage business. There are more than 358 Airbnb listings with an average annual revenue of $31,291 and an occupancy rate of 56%.

    2. Mission del Lago
    Rental Arbitrage San Antonio

    According to Airbtics Dashboard, Mission del Lago is the second-best market to start your rental arbitrage business in San Antonio. There are more than 16 Airbnb listings with average annual revenue of $28,738 and an occupancy rate of 58%.


    In summary, rental arbitrage in San Antonio can be a very profitable side income. Since it does not require you to purchase a property, it’s also practical for beginners trying to be real estate players without spending millions.

    Leverage your rental arbitrage opportunities by using a free Airbnb Profit Calculator and determine the best areas that will bring long-term profitability!

    Airbnb Data


    Airbnb Data

    Join The Club!

    Get a free weekly

    will only send you value bombs


    Get Access to our weekly data-driven airbnb report!