Is debt getting you down? Is your spending money fund leaving something to be desired? Having trouble making ends meet? Then a side hustle is exactly what you need, my friend.
But if you’re like me, the thought of mowing lawns, cleaning houses, and babysitting makes you throw up in your mouth. Seriously, I just can’t imagine having to do put more time and labor into making money than I already do for my 9-5. But what to do, what to do?
The answer hit me like a hurricane. No, it actually was a hurricane. Hurricane Harvey, to be exact, that bastard. I live just a few hours away from Houston and I felt a strong need to help out in a concrete way. That’s when I chose to list my guest bedroom for free on Airbnb, so that refugees from the hurricane could find some relief.
Ironically enough, Harvey, the destroyer of dreams, made me realize how stinkin’ easy it was having a roommate a few days a month. I could easily earn money hosting on Airbnb, with very little effort and time on my part. I was thrilled. (Especially since my “brand new roof” in my new house started leaking like a sieve. But that’s a horror story for another day, kids.)
Of course, it takes a bit of preparation and effort initially, plus there are legal and safety issues to consider. Luckily for you though, my dears, I’ll help you through each of those points below.
Earn Money Hosting on Airbnb
Complete, Detailed Listings
While you home may not be a 5 star hotel, you will want to be just as detailed in your description. No matter how cheap you post your rental for, you are not going to get lodgers if you are vague or lacking in information. Now, I am not saying you should embellish or make it seem better than it is. Actually, that’s the worst thing you can do as the lodgers would just dispute the payment and you will not end up getting paid. But make sure you are clear about things like the layout, amenities, neighborhood, house rules, etc. And be sure to take a nice variety of photos – just skip the Photoshop!
Consider Going Rate
I don’t care how fancy-shmancy your home may be, if you overprice it for the market, you will not get lodgers. Instead, research other Airbnb rentals in the area with the same level of amenities, bedrooms, and upgrades.
Also, when you are just starting out, consider listing your unit for slightly below the going rate in your neighborhood. This can help get you renters when you are lacking in reviews.
Taxes, Laws, and Rules
If you live in the US, you will owe taxes on your Airbnb rental. You will receive a form 1099 at the end of the year, listing all pertinent information. In addition, depending on your city and state, you may also owe a transient occupancy tax, similar to what hotels pay. You can find some helpful information on this tax via Airbnb’s Responsible Hosting page.
In addition, if your property is maintained by an HOA or is rent controlled, you will want to make sure there are no restrictions to subletting. Same thing if you rent your property, vs own.
If you live in an apartment, condo, or housing complex, be clear on any rules or regulations that residents must follow. The last thing you want is for YOU to get in trouble because your renters were partying until all hours of the night or disrupting the neighborhood.
Speaking of rules, make sure you fill out your house rules on your online profile. I also recommend printing those out and leaving them in a strategic place within your home.
Safety – be it your personal safety, the safety of your guests, or the well-being of your home and property – is definitely one of the most important things to consider when you’ve decided to try to earn money hosting on Airbnb.
First and foremost, do not even consider processing payment outside of Airbnb. Seriously, y’all, let that silly thought go. You won’t be saving any more than about 3%, but you will be foregoing their substantial insurance policy that they offer to hosts. (BTW, that policy is worth up to $1 million bucks, so don’t risk it.) That all being said, it is recommended that you sit down with your insurance agent and discuss having an additional rider added to your current policy as the Airbnb insurance doesn’t cover everything.
A few other things you can do to make sure your property, belongings, and you stay safe. These include:
- Use Airbnb’s messaging system to communicate with potential guests and share expectations about what you require in a lodger.
- Check out their profiles and reviews, and keep an eye out fo for verified phone numbers, social network accounts, and references.
- Require potential lodgers to complete certain verifications before they reserve your space, such as Verified ID. If they are lacking any profile verifications, you can request that they do so before accepting their reservation.
- Trust your intuition: If you don’t feel right about a reservation, don’t accept it. Keep in mind, though, that you can’t deny them due to things like their race, language spoken, and other slimy crap like that. Sure, it would be hard to prove, but y’all are better than that.
- Install a security camera within the public spaces of the rental. Just be sure to disclose the type and location withinyour listing, as not doing so is grounds for suspension or removal from the Airbnb community.
- Make sure that smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms are installed throughout the home. Also notify your guests of the location of fire extinguishers, breaker boxes, and consider purchasing a cheap weather radio. (I use this radio and it is awesome. Just be warned that it is loud as a freight train and will wake the dead!)
Cleanliness, Comfort, and Hospitality
Remember, positive reviews ends up meaning more money for you. I talked a lot more in detail about this exact thing in my post Airbnb Hosting Tips, but in a nutshell, offer things to make your lodgers feel more at home. Make sure their space is spotless, the sheets and bedding are crisp, clean, and comfortable, and offer a “concierge” station in their space. Provide information about local restaurants and places to visit, house rules and instructions, extra towels, and travel toiletries and laundry detergent. Your home does not need to be fancy, modern, or particularly stylish to appeal to many travelers. Instead, care and consideration go a long way.
Case in point, I earned over $450 in my first month of renting my spare room part-time as a host! My house is adorable, but it isn’t a palace. But because of the small amount of effort I’ve put into making it comfortable, I’ve easily been able to earn money on Airbnb, plus I’ve received impeccable reviews.
Feeling inspired to start renting out your own space? Then pop on over here to get started. And stay tuned for more updates as my income continues to grow thanks to Airbnb. I’m OUT!