Airbnb becomes Dormbnb

–Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

When Benjamin Capitano moved into his dorm as a sophomore at the King’s College, a tiny liberal arts college in Manhattan, he realized he’d been given a gift: a couch. So he listed his bed on Airbnb for $99.

“I’ve always had a knack for hospitality,” Capitano said. “I got us sheets and the little mini soaps and basically set up my dorm like a hotel.”

At Columbia University, New York University and the University of Pennsylvania ($1,000 a night for a room for two during the pope’s Philadelphia visit), students have been using Airbnb to offset the cost of college. The listings tend to omit one fact: that the bed is in student housing. (Potential guests, be sure to check pictures for telltale dorm furniture, and reviews: “It’s in a dorm. … I sort of felt creepy around all the kids,” said one guest at the School of Visual Arts.)

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While most housing contracts prohibit rentals, lately colleges have been reviewing their policies to ensure they explicitly mention Airbnb.

The King’s College had only a guest policy. Capitano said he was careful to follow the rules and submit the right forms to his resident adviser — “conveniently, I was the RA.” More than 20 guests stayed, a bounty he split with his two roommates.

But word got around. After a tense meeting with housing officials, restrictions were promptly added.

Capitano was able to finish up the semester as the RA, but others have not fared as well. A student at Emerson College in Boston is facing a disciplinary hearing for renting his dorm room on Airbnb.

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