Tiny house builder Escape to provide “free” homes for Airbnb rentals

US: Wisconsin-based company Escape says it is giving away its line of nearly self-sufficient tiny homes for free to partners willing to use them as Airbnb rentals.

Escape, which is based in Rice Lake, has produced the line of tiny homes inspired by prairie-style cottages that are found across the state, and by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s renowned appreciation of nature. The move is part of Escape’s new initiative, known as the Free Escape Tiny House programme.

The homes are not exactly free however. The current costs of purchasing one of the Escape homes range from anything between $40,000 and $80,000, plus any utilities and the cost of a licence plate, since the tiny homes on wheels are legally designated as recreational vehicles.

However, the rental programme which offers “free” tiny vacation homes is also flourishing.

The “partner” who can receive an Escape tiny home must undergo a credit check and pay a security deposit of up to $2,000. Escape will deliver its free rentals to any location within 100 miles of the top 50 metropolitan areas in the U.S. (delivery and setup costs are deducted from future rental fees) and the partner is responsible for maintaining the unit, including housekeeping, as well as carrying adequate liability insurance.

The partner must also set up utilities, including water and septic. In addition to solar power, the units can be outfitted with water or gas tanks as well as composting or dry flush toilets and even a washer/dryer upon request.

Heat can come from a variety of sources including baseboard heat, a furnace, split system or a fireplace.

Escape Homes founder Dan Dobrowolski said: “We’ve seen the interest in tiny home vacations soar. Launching this new programme allows us to introduce the vacation experience to more people across the country while offering our partners a chance to build a tiny (bad pun intended) business along the way.”

Once everything is in working order, the unit is free for the partner to use for a year with the option of yearly renewals and the opportunity to purchase the unit at any time. Escape will promote the rental unit on its website and on various PR channels for no extra cost.

When the rental is operational, the partner’s share of the rental income is 40 per cent, minus any booking, credit card or other fees associated with the direct rental of the tiny home.

Escape homes can furthermore be adapted for off-grid use as well as wheels to make transport or moving more effortless, meaning the homes can operate almost anywhere. They can be fitted with modern features like panoramic windows, plenty of storage, climate control and LED lighting, as well as functional features like windows, light, long sight lines and maximised space to make the interior feel larger.

The homes are sold factory-direct but aspiring entrepreneurs with the resources to outfit them may be seeing these as a profitable business venture for 2019.

The company has already signed up partner residents in Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon and Tennessee. Partners will soon take delivery of the company’s newest style, ESCAPE Boho, but the opportunity is open to residents of every state if their site meets the criteria.

Discussions are also ongoing to place similar home designs on beachfront properties in Jamaica and in Bordeaux in France.

Anyone wishing to find out more information about the Escape Homes programme can visit its website at https://www.escapetraveler.net/freeunits.