After months of coronavirus lockdowns, a new kind of real estate service is on the rise–apartment rentals by the hour.
Positioning themselves as the site for ultra short-term rentals, a San Francisco-based company called Globe lets users find apartments and homes they can rent for a couple of hours. Launched in the summer of 2019, the service has become especially popular for people looking to get away from sheltering-in-place for a few hours, The New York Timesinitially reported.
The primary client base is, at the moment, people looking to work or get away from family members or a partner for a short bit of time. While they would normally go to a coffee shop or a co-working space, lockdown orders are making that challenging in most cities and impossible in others.
As a result, some of the same people are searching for an apartment to rent instead. The service is particularly popular among young professionals in San Francisco and New York, which have had high numbers of COVID cases and are some of the slowest to reopen.
“I brought my anti-bacterial wipes, wiped down the desk, the doorknob, the light switch, any area of the apartment I was in,” Brittney Gwynn, a 32-year-old project manager for an art company, told the Times. She paid $100 to rent an apartment in Brooklyn for two hours and used it to make a call for work and hang out alone without her boyfriend.
Globe founder Emmanuel Bamfo said that demand for the service skyrocketed since the start of the coronavirus. They’ve had over 20,000 people join their waiting list since the outbreak’s start.
To join, clients need to join its network of guests — there is currently a waiting list because, at 5,500 hosts and 10,000 guests, there are not enough people willing to rent out their apartment to satisfy interest — something Bamfo hopes to change by encouraging more apartment owners to sign up.
“Renting my home to professionals who take Zoom calls during the day after Airbnb tanked is saving my mortgage,” Bamfo, who had previously founded a similar service for hotel rooms, told Realtor.com.
To avoid potential health exposures, the company is currently insisting that guests come alone and submit a photo of a thermometer with their body temperature before they arrive as well as hiring cleaning services between each guest.
But while the service may be popular, it could also be curtailed in certain cities. According to TechCrunch, the city of San Francisco sent Bamfo a letter saying that Globe’s service could be in violation of the state’s stay-at-home order. Globe is currently working on a response.