Are you looking to make some extra money by renting out an extra room or, while you’re out of town, your entire home? Airbnb has quickly become one of the most popular options for both renters and homeowners who want to score some extra cash. After all, you make your rent or home payment every month anyways, it makes sense to try and get some money back.
As easy as it can be to rent your home out through Airbnb, the actual hosting experience can lead to all kinds of crazy horror stories. We’ve picked out several of the most common issues with putting your home on Airbnb, along with tips on how to minimize your risk.
Short Term Rentals Legal Issues
Before you even start taking pictures of your home and writing that description, you should make sure that you’re not going to be in any legal trouble by becoming a host. More and more cities have been cracking down on the short-term rental market, so what was once unregulated may now be highly regulated in your area. Many major cities put in quite a few rules that apply to Airbnb. For example, Los Angeles put in several restrictive regulations in 2016.
Search online to see what kind of laws your city has in place regarding short-term rentals. Make sure that it won’t be illegal to rent out your home on Airbnb, and also check that you’ll be able to comply with any regulations your city has. While some people choose to ignore their city’s regulations, you’re taking a big risk if you do so, as you could end up with fines and other penalties if you’re caught. A fine alone can wipe out any money you made renting out your place.
Even if your city allows Airbnb and you comply with its regulations, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your landlord will be okay with it. If you own your home, then you’re in the clear here. But if you’re renting, you should thoroughly examine your lease to see if you’re going to be in any danger of eviction. Many landlords have chosen to evict renters who put their apartments up on Airbnb.
When in doubt, contact your landlord and ask. It’s better to clear it with them first instead of having them find out about it later. Not only will an eviction leave you in the difficult position of finding a new place to live, likely within 30 days, but it also puts a black mark on your record which will make it even harder to get another place in the future.
The good news is that most guests on Airbnb are friendly people who are just looking for an affordable place to stay while they travel. The bad news is that there are the occasional bad guests who wreak havoc on their host’s place.
One of the most common issues with guests is damage to the property and stolen possessions. If you’re on site, then it’s less likely either of these will occur, although it’s still possible. If you’re renting out your entire place and you won’t be there, then you’re more at risk of these two things occurring.
The first step in avoiding potential problems with guests is checking out their profiles and reading previous host reviews. You can’t know for sure how a guest will act when they’re at your place, but researching them as much as possible can at least help weed out some bad ones.
You should take plenty of pictures of your place before you rent it out to any guests. That way, you have evidence if your guest damages anything in the form of before and after pictures. Don’t leave any valuables in your home while you rent it out, and that includes important documents – just consider the story of the man who had an Airbnb renter that stole his birth certificate.
Ideally, you shouldn’t have anything you can’t afford to lose in your home while you rent it out. Consider moving your valuables into a bank safe deposit box and relocating personal items into a storage unit to avoid losing possessions you care about. It’s sadly difficult to get reimbursed for stolen or damaged possessions through Airbnb, as the company will often ask you for receipts to prove the value of those possessions.
Avoiding Airbnb Scams
Unfortunately, there’s also the risk of scams when you host with Airbnb. While payment tends to be fairly secure, there’s always the chance that your guest makes up an issue with your home to try and get their money back.
The guest refund policy for Airbnb is flexible and gives the company quite a bit of authority in regards to deciding when a guest should get a refund. One of the most common scams is when a guest claim that a rental had a pest problem. Airbnb often goes ahead and refunds them 50 percent automatically in this instance. The tricky thing about this scam is that it’s very difficult to prove unequivocally that your home didn’t have any pests. All you’re really able to do here is screen your guests as best you can.
For many people, Airbnb is a great way to make extra money, and it could definitely work out well for you. Just make sure that you’re aware of the risks that go along with it, so you can try to avoid as many as possible.