Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.
Students, tourists looking for a no-frills, slightly cheaper way to travel, and guests who want to stay in a more comfortable, unique space are leaning toward booking rooms available through vacation rental marketplaces in increasing numbers. Offerings on these marketplaces occupy the vast space between hotels and hostels, but they’re not just beneficial to those traveling. They also offer an income opportunity for those who have enough space to accommodate a guest or a few. Whether you have just a room available or an entire apartment or house (or perhaps even a treehouse or a castle), you may be able to make a few extra bucks a month with a vacation rental marketplace. However, before you rush to your computer to list your place, there are a few caveats to keep in mind.
Think about potential legal issues if you list your room or house on Airbnb.
Regardless of whether you have a house or an apartment, you could be facing some legal troubles if you list your space as a vacation rental. If you rent an apartment, check with your landlord or lady if you can be a paid host. Your lease may even already include a clause forbidding this. If you fail to check and go against regulations, you may find yourself penalized by the law.
Similarly, on a larger scale, check with your town, city, or jurisdiction’s laws regarding hosting paying guests: it may have certain restrictions limiting the length of time they stay, or prohibiting the exchange altogether. This may be due to any number of laws and regulations, including zoning and administrative codes. Some states like New York have placed a ban on listing short term rentals (there, the minimum stay is 30 days). If you find out that you are allowed to become a host, make sure that you have the right permits or licenses, if necessary. This is often the first step in finding out if listing your place on a vacation rental marketplace is the right move for you.
Make sure you’re covered.
If you decide to become a host, it may be wise to invest in insurance for your personal belongings. Some marketplaces offer host protection insurance that can protect against liability, and covers bodily injury or property damage. As a precaution, you may want to keep your valuables in a safe and take photos of everything, so that you can claim damages should they occur.
Are you paying the right taxes?
While some marketplaces make it clear that your new income may or may not be subject to being taxed, as a host, you would have to do your due diligence and research these responsibilities yourself.
Be prepared for extra expenses.
While it seems pretty straightforward that you’ll likely be earning some income by listing your place, you may have to make a few additional investments before you do so. If you want to impress potential guests with your humble abode, you may have to upgrade your furniture or repaint your walls. Between guests, you may feel more comfortable hiring a cleaning service to make your place look its best. Of course, these aren’t the only extra expenses some hosts fail to take into account before listing their rooms, apartments, or houses.
Keep your landlord and neighbor relations in mind.
If you don’t have the rosiest of relationships with either your landlord (if you have one) or your neighbors, you may want to skip on the opportunity to host. Most marketplaces do not perform background checks on the individuals renting out rooms, but the chances of landing a less than courteous guest are still slim. Regardless, there have been cases in which hosts were left in truly nightmare situations. One host alleged that a guest had ransacked her apartment, stealing a camera, a laptop, her passport, cash, and much more. It doesn’t even have to be the possibility of a crime occurring that can deter would-be hosts: noisy, dirty, and generally rude guests can ruffle the feather of neighbors you may not already get along with (check out tips on how to address issues with your neighbors in our handy guide).
Ask yourself: Is it worth it?
In other words, do you trust strangers staying inside your home? While the idea of making money off that extra room or your empty home is tempting enough, it may be a good idea to consider not just all the extra costs that you may be faced with, but also how comfortable you are with the idea that you may be sacrificing your peace of mind, should your home fall into the wrong hands. There are many pros and cons of using a vacation rental marketplace as a host, but perhaps the best course of action is to speak to both existing hosts and renters so that you get a better idea of what to expect.
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