In a nod to acknowledge the gig economy, Fannie Mae has approved a pilot program to allow income from short-term rentals through Airbnb to help homeowners qualify for a refinance.

So far, just Quicken Loans, Citizens Bank and Better Mortgage are partnering with Airbnb. That could change in the future as Fannie Mae evaluates the initiative and may decide to back mortgages from other lenders including Airbnb income for loan qualifications.

For now, the program is limited to Airbnb hosts who list their primary residence on the site for short-term rentals, not vacation homes. The Airbnb income can come from renting some or all of the rooms in the house as long as the homeowners are compliant with local laws about short-term rentals.

Airbnb hosts must download a proof of income statement from their Airbnb account and have included that income on their tax returns. The lender, according to Better Mortgage, will use the average earnings for the last 24 months. If the borrower has only 12 months of income from the past 24 months, Better Mortgage will count 75 percent of the average as income.

The income could make the difference in qualifying for a refinance for some borrowers because it will increase the income side of their debt-to-income ratio. Some Airbnb hosts may want to refinance to make home improvements that could increase the rent they charge or the number of guests they can host.

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