Navigating the Ins and Outs of Renting an Airbnb (Including Guidelines for Shabbos and Pesach)

Winter 2024

Who would have imagined, just a few years ago, that you could go on vacation and rent a stranger’s private home? But that is exactly what people now do every day, with the rise of Airbnb and similar short-term rental platforms that list millions of units in over 100,000 cities.[1]

A Torah-observant individual who enters into such an arrangement will encounter numerous halachic challenges when signing up as an Airbnb “guest.” This includes properties listed as “kosher” – even ones in Israel – since an owner usually cannot vouch for every renter who has used the kitchen, nor for each renter’s kashrus standards, which can vary widely. Likewise, one who owns and is the “host” of an Airbnb property will have to address his own set of halachic concerns. Let’s analyze some of the more common ones.

Kashrus Concerns During the Year (Excluding Pesach)

The primary area of concern for guests is obviously the kitchen and the kashrus status of the appliances in it. Before kashering appliances, be mindful that the property owner would likely not agree to any procedures that may cause damage. Kasher only if there is no such risk or with explicit permission. (Note that in one’s own home, guidelines may be stricter than those listed here.)

Here are the most common appliances and areas in the kitchen that may pose an issue.

Oven – Food placed in the oven should be double-wrapped[2] or the oven should be kashered. A clean oven may be kashered by turning on high (at least 500F) for 40 minutes. This will kasher the racks as well. If dirty, the self-clean cycle[3] will both clean and kasher.[4]

Stovetop – Depends on the type of appliance:

► Gas stovetop with grates – clean the grates. Insert into the oven on high for 40 minutes.[5]

► Electric coil stovetop – turn on until the coils glow red. This usually only takes a few minutes.

► Glass stove top – clean and turn on until coils glow red. This will only kasher the area above the coils. The area outside the coils will not be kashered. To use a pot that extends outside this area, keep the glass top clean and dry. Wipe up any spills quickly.

BBQ Grill – Kashering a grill is not practical due to the difficulty of cleaning it and the high kashering temperatures which can cause damage.  It’s best to bring a portable grill.

Microwave – Food that is heated in a microwave should be enclosed in two leakproof wrappings.

Dishwasher – Do not use.[6]

Refrigerator – There is no issue with storing food in a clean refrigerator. 

Ice Maker – One may use ice made in the freezer that is stored in a clean receptacle.

Instant Hot Faucet  – May be used to prepare hot drinks and foods.

Sink Faucet  – May be used to fill vessels for drinking and cooking.[7]

Sink – Kashering is not recommended as it is messy and involves a risk to counters and cabinets in case of spills.[8]  Instead, to use, first ensure the sink is clean. Then, either use the sink only with cold or lukewarm water, or use a basin to hold dishes and place a sink rack underneath (with separate basins and racks for meat and dairy).

Countertops – Cold vessels may be placed directly on clean surfaces. For hot cookware, lay a towel or kosher trivet beneath the vessel.

Utensils – Dishes, mugs and certain utensils found in the home are permitted for cold use on a temporary basis in case of need; they are not permitted to be used with sharp foods. Before using, utensils should be carefully inspected to make sure they are perfectly clean. When checking forks, pay special attention to the area between the tines. Knives are difficult to clean properly for kosher use and should not be used.[9]

If the owner of the house is Jewish, then utensils which require tevila cannot be used, since you would need to tovel them before use.[10] If you have no information about the identity of the owner, and the rental is outside of Israel, then you may assume the owner is not Jewish since the vast majority of people there are not.[11]

Can Opener – can be difficult to clean and should not be used.

Coffeemaker – A coffeemaker may be used. A Keurig should be cleaned and run through a cycle of hot water before use.

Food provided by owner – Sometimes food or condiments are provided. Use only if these are in unopened containers.

Renting Over Shabbos or Yom Tov

Before renting over a Shabbos or Yom Tov, consider issues related to sensors and automations that may be part of the environment. For example, will opening the door or moving around in the house activate alarm lights or sounds, even if the alarm is not set? Asking the host might not be sufficient; the host might not even be aware of the functioning of the electronics on his property or understand what you are asking.

It is advisable to arrive at the rental with enough time to familiarize yourself with the property so you can work out any halachic concerns that become apparent. When possible, it helps to rent a property that was previously rented by someone you know, who can attest to its “Shabbos friendliness.” Before booking, if you have concerns, you carefully consider if you can keep Shabbos properly in the rental unit.[12] Some of these concerns are detailed below.

Cameras – There may be security cameras in the home or outside. It is best to avoid being videoed by such cameras on Shabbos if the image is projected onto a screen.[13] However, if this is difficult to avoid and you have no interest in being seen by the cameras, then you are permitted to walk past them. If there are monitors in the house, the screens should be turned off. A Ring doorbell may illuminate upon sensing your presence and should be disabled.

Lights – Bathrooms, hallways or the home entrance may have automated lights that are activated or brighten when a door is opened or one walks around. These must be disabled.

Locks – Electronic locks or card keys used in many Airbnb homes may not be used. Obviously, this will create a major challenge if everyone plans on leaving the home on Shabbos. If a regular key is provided and there is no eruv, be mindful that you cannot take the key with you and will need to store it in a suitable place.[14] Furthermore, opening the door into the house while the key is inserted in the lock may be forbidden.[15]

Porch – If there is no eruv, carrying on the porch might not be permitted. Consult with your rav for guidance.

Thermostat – Many homes have energy-efficient thermostats. When it senses that the room is unoccupied, the thermostat adjusts the climate to an energy-efficient setting. When the guest re-enters the room, the thermostat readjusts to the original setting. Sensors should be disabled prior to Shabbos.[16]

Oven – Of course, one cannot cook in an oven on Shabbos, but many people like to use the “Time Bake” function to leave fully cooked food in the oven before Shabbos and have the oven turn off during the evening seuda. An oven without a Sabbath Mode will beep continuously after Time Bake is finished. The STAR-K website lists oven models that are Sabbath Mode certified, which are engineered to disable this beeping. If the oven is not Sabbath Mode certified, the Time Bake feature should not be employed.

Refrigerator – Fridges and freezers can have Shabbos concerns (e.g., activation of lights, temperature gauges and defrost cycles). Check if the fridge has a Sabbath Mode by reading the model number on the ID sticker inside the fridge and checking the STAR-K website.[17]


Mezuzos are not required for a stay less than 30 days.[18] Even though one who leases an apartment in Eretz Yisroel is normally obligated in mezuzos right away, one who stays less than 30 days in an Airbnb is not obligated.

For the owner of a rental property, the halachos of mezuzah vary. If the owner never stays overnight, he is not obligated. If he goes sometimes, even for just one night, he must have mezuzos. If the owner is afraid that renters will damage them,[19] then he should take them down when he leaves.[20]


For during the week:

☑ tabletop pizza maker (can be used for many types of foods)

☑ portable BBQ grill

☑ disposable utensils

For Shabbos:

☑ hot water urn

☑ hotplate

☑ crockpot

☑ lamp

☑ timer

☑ strong tape to tape down a fridge plunger

☑ magnets for fridges that don’t have plungers

Renting Over Pesach

There are two situations to consider when renting over Pesach: kashering the unit and performing bedikas chometz.


As noted above, secure permission from the owner before kashering. Ideally, all kashering should be completed before the end time for eating chometz on Erev Pesach.[21]

Sometimes, a person might not arrive at his Airbnb until later in the day of Erev Pesach, or on Chol HaMoed.

If one arrives on Erev Pesach after the end time for eating chometz where the property is located: the oven and stovetop grates may still be kashered. A sink may be kashered if one can ascertain that the sink is aino ben yomo (i.e., has not been used with heat in the last 24 hours).[22] Follow the kashering guidance provided in Rabbi Moshe Heinemann’s article, “Preparing/Kashering the Pesach Kitchen,” available on the STAR-K website.[23]

If one arrives on Chol HaMoed: due to the strictness of Pesach halachos, it may be impractical or even ineffective to do kashering during that time.

Bedikas Chometz:

If one arrives before or on the night of the 14th of Nissan: do a bedika as usual.

If one arrives on the 14th during the day or on Chol HaMoed: do a bedika without a bracha. Further, if one arrives after the time that chometz is forbidden to be owned: before entering the home, he should have in mind to not want to acquire any of the chometz. If chometz is found and the owner is non-Jewish, it should be covered. If the owner is Jewish, then a rav should be consulted.

 When the Key Belongs to You: Obligations of the Owner

One is prohibited from making money on Shabbos or Yom Tov. For a rental that is over a Shabbos, the charge can be considered to be for Friday or Motzei Shabbos. However, a two-day Yom Tov or Yom Tov-after-Shabbos rental poses an issue and should be discussed with one’s rav. A partnership with a non-Jew may be possible. [24]

The owner may have a guest who moves out on Shabbos morning and another who moves in Shabbos afternoon. In such a case, he (or his manager, if he has one) will need to arrange cleaning during Shabbos day. This is a problem of amira l’akum. If the owner has arranged a partnership with a non-Jew, this issue can be dealt with as well. If it is possible to set up the rental app to block rentals that begin on Shabbos or Yom Tov, this would also solve the issue.

Before Pesach, the home should be thoroughly cleaned and all chometz put away to be sold, as in one’s own home.

We eagerly await the days of Mashiach, when “each man will rest securely under his grape vine and palm tree.”[25] At that time, people will not need to vacation for pleasure, as the home will provide complete spiritual and physical contentment.

To comment on this article, please email the author at [email protected].

[1] Aside from the halachos mentioned here, one should conduct due diligence when renting. A helpful resource can be found at

[2] Tin foil will often rip upon inserting. The best way to double wrap is to place the food in two disposable tin pans, one inside the other, and cover twice. The outer wrapping should be considered non-kosher and discarded.

[3] Many ovens today use steam in the self-clean cycle, which is not sufficient to kasher the oven.

[4] Never leave an oven unattended while kashering.

[5] Some grates have rubber feet that may be damaged by the heat of the oven or that may damage the oven itself. Further, the oven may damage the finish of the grates. If kashering is not feasible, a rav should be consulted.

[6] STAR-K does not recommend kashering plastic; all dishwashers have plastic parts or piping.

[7] When renting properties in New York City, be aware that unfiltered water may contain copepods – small but visible crustaceans.

[8] If there is only one sink, then in any event it will become not kosher if used for dairy and meat. 

[9] See Shach Y.D. 94:29.

[10] Unless the owner is shomer mitzvos and toveled the utensils. For a list of utensils which require tevila, see An ocean may be used for tevilas keilim. Certain lakes or rivers may also be used. A rav should be consulted for proper guidance. See also

[11] Unless there is some indication that the owner is Jewish (e.g., there is a mezuza on the door). Note also: There may be religious symbols hanging in the rooms. One should cover the symbols. Kaf Hachaim 113:27. If there is no other alternative, one may daven  in the room and face away from the symbol, even if it requires facing a direction other than east. M.B. 94:30.

[12] Staying in a hotel for Shabbos has halachic issues as well, but at least there are non-Jews who can be helpful when necessary and permitted. An Airbnb does not usually have that luxury. See “The Travelers’ Halachic Guide to Hotels” at

[13] One may encounter tznius issues even during the week if there are cameras and there is a pool.

[14] A lockbox may be provided by the owner. You might want to consider bringing along your own lockbox.

[15] Since you are moving the key from one domain to another. See Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 18:49.

[16] Nest, a popular model, cannot be properly disabled by covering it. You can ask the owner to allow you to change the settings; research online ahead of time how to accomplish that.  

[17] If there is no Sabbath Mode, then at a minimum tape down the plunger to fool the fridge into thinking it is closed. If there is no plunger, then a magnet can be used for this purpose. Contact STAR-K for more information.

[18] And perhaps not even when more than 30 days, as opposed to when signing a lease on an apartment. See Chovas Hadar 3:5:16 and Shaarei Mezuza 9:24:41.

[19] One owner reported that the renter thought the mezuzos were extra cameras!

[20] Rav Moshe Heinemann shlit”a.

[21] O.C. 452:1.

[22] This includes being certain that it has not been cleaned with hot water within 24 hours prior to kashering. For example if the owner is a shomer mitzvos, you could ask them for this information.

[23] See

[24] See also Orchos Shabbos 2:22:95.

[25] Melachim I 5:5.