What Should You Know Before Becoming an Airbnb Host?

Have you considered renting out your home to make a little extra money on the side? Or do you have dreams of quitting your job and becoming a full-time “rentrepreneur” renting out your home and rolling in the dough? Either way, there are some things you should consider before you quit your day job, or even before you open your door to strangers.

Are you sharing the space? Are you renting out a room in your home or are you renting out your entire place? If you’re just renting out a room then be prepared to share your space and stay under the same roof with a complete stranger. While it might lead to some lifelong friendships and great experiences, always consider all possibilities before diving in.

Are you an owner or a renter? Just because you’re a renter yourself, it doesn’t exclude you from being an Airbnb host — that is, if it’s okay with your landlord. It’s always best to get written permission from your landlord stating that it’s okay for you to be an Airbnb host. If you own your property, then you’re probably in the clear, but not always. If you own a condo or belong to a homeowner’s association, they may have rules about renting out your home and you’ll want to know what those are before you start the process.

Think like a business owner. In a way, being an Airbnb host is like owning your own little business. Whether you’re hosting full-time or you do it only occasionally, a professional approach can go a long way toward smooth communications and realistic expectations on both sides of the coin. Be prepared to invest some time into marketing, researching renters, preparing your space and dealing with complaints or emergencies.

Preparing to be An Airbnb Host

Use Airbnb’s message system. Airbnb suggests that you conduct all communications and payments through their system. It’s highly recommended that you get to know the people, read their profiles, any reviews they have, look at their connected social networks and references. You can even ask for more references if you want. And remember, it’s your home, if you have a bad feeling about a guest, you don’t have to accept their reservation.

Craft an intriguing listing. Much like selling your house, you want to market your space and highlight the benefits. What makes your space unique and inviting? What do you love most about where you live? Maybe it’s not your home that’s particularly exciting but the area where you live, you might be able to sell a traveler on visiting your town and exploring what it has to offer.

Set some ground rules. It’s a great idea to review other Airbnb listings to get an idea of the ground rules others are using. You may even come up with a few new ideas! Try to cover every situation, from smoking rules to guests having people over. The guests are required to agree to the rules before requesting a reservation and they’re also sent them again once the reservation is confirmed. This should get the message across, but it’s never a bad idea to go over them again once they arrive.

Home safety card and a house manual. There is some work that needs to be done on the front end of renting your home. Two important tasks are completing a home safety card and creating a house manual — both should be filed on the Airbnb website and available in your home.

The safety card lists emergency phone numbers, places to go and exit routes. Don’t skip the obvious information, like call 911 for emergencies. If your guests are from another country, this may not be the first thing they think of in an emergency situation.

The house manual covers all the nuances of your property. From simple things such as where to find extra blankets to trickier aspects, like how to work your washing machine.

Put a priority on safety. Even if you already have a safety card and house manual, there are other steps you can take to make your home even safer for guests. One helpful item you could create is a first aid kit that stays in the rental area, giving guests instant access to those little necessities.

Stage your space. Whether you’re renting the entire home or just a room, you’ll want to make it clean and inviting. But you’ll also want to fix any hazards that could cause injuries. Safeguarding your valuables should be a priority as well, and may include not only removing cherished items, but also checking with your American Family Insurance agent to make sure you have all the insurance you need. Finally, you’ll want to add all the things a guest might need, such as towels, blankets and bedding, soaps, an iron, a fire extinguisher, cleaning supplies, a first aid kit and any other little necessities you can think of.

Other Home Rental Options

If you would like to try renting your home or a room but aren’t sure about going the Airbnb route, there are some other ways you can earn a little extra income through rentals.

Vacation rental by owner (VRBO). Most VRBOs are second homes that are in a vacation or retreat-like environment, but they don’t need to be. If your community has a lot of appealing aspects, you can rent your property when you’re gone or consider renting part of it. Many of the same considerations apply as they do in an Airbnb situation.

Sublease space in your home. Instead of having new guests all the time, consider taking on a tenant for extra income. You’ll need to determine if that is okay with your landlord or your neighborhood association, but this might be a rental option that’s right up your alley — steady income and a consistent tenant!

Insuring Your Home for Airbnb or Other Rentals

When you have renters, one of your primary considerations should be insuring your property.

When you rent out your entire home you aren’t covered with your regular homeowners insurance. But by adding an endorsement called “temporary rental to others” to your policy, you get many of the same coverage you normally would. This coverage is not designed for people who rent their property on a full-time basis. But it is available to you if you rent your home less than 62 days per year. Which is perfect for a Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO) or someone who just wants to dip their toes into Airbnb renting.

When you’ve worked out the details and are fully prepared to take on guests, you’ll find that it can be a very rewarding experience and business venture. The main thing to remember is that it is a business and a professional attitude can go a long way toward everyone’s satisfaction.


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