10 Things to Consider Before Starting an Airbnb

1. Short Term Rental Restrictions in Your City

Zoning for short term rentals varies widely from place to place. The most important first step for you is to research registration laws and restrictions on short term rentals in your city. Laws in some cities are ever-changing. This is due to large hotel chains losing revenue and then lobbying for greater restrictions on Airbnbs. HOAs and condos may also have additional restrictions, so if your home falls under one of these you should check their regulations as well.

2. Will your neighbors be okay with short term tenants on your property?

As long as there are no restrictions in your location against short term rentals, legally you are entitled to rent the property how you see fit. However, disgruntled neighbors can cause an issue for both you and your guests. It’s important to reach out to your neighbors and get a feel of what you can expect from them once you start renting your property. In many cases, the neighboring properties are short term rentals as well. In that case, you won’t have anything to worry about.

3. Identify Your Positioning on Airbnb

Airbnb was once primarily focused on people renting extra space in their own homes. However, most listings are now second properties in which the owners do not live. Either can work, but many guests now expect to have their own space. If you do decide to rent space in your own home, you’ll need to find ways to separate the spaces. Or you may consider renting your property when you are not home.

4. How will you price your Airbnb?

The rates you choose have a huge effect on how your property will rent. Set your rates too low, and guests will assume something is wrong. Set them too high, and you may chase potential guests away.

How can you avoid this problem? Do research on rates in your area and set your prices competitively. You may also choose to use dynamic pricing software to take some of the guesswork out of setting your rates.

5. How Will Running an Airbnb affect your taxes?

Yes, your rental income will affect your taxes! Don’t be caught off guard by this fact. Keep detailed accounts of your income and expenses. When the IRS comes calling for a piece of your newly earned income, you will be prepared. It is best to speak with a tax professional in advance to avoid an unaffordable tax burden.

6. Understanding Cleaning Fees and Guest Expectations as an Airbnb Host

It doesn’t matter how luxurious your home is or what amenities you may offer your guests, if your home isn’t clean you aren’t going to get good reviews. Bad reviews spell trouble for an Airbnb host. The most common complaint from guests is the property wasn’t cleaned to their standards. It is extremely important to acquire a good cleaning team or come up with a solid plan if you are going to be doing the cleaning yourself. Airbnb lets you charge a cleaning fee so hiring a professional often works out well for hosts.

7. Becoming an Exceptional Host

Being a good host requires patience, flexibility, and a friendly demeanor. Guests like to feel welcomed and that their host is attentive when they need to be. Hosts that go the extra mile to make sure their guests are comfortable are often rewarded with great reviews. Airbnb is a wonderful way to earn income, but it shouldn’t be your only focus. Having a good attitude and an accommodating spirit will make the experience of hosting more enjoyable for you and your guests.

8. Being Transparent as a Host

Guests don’t tend to like surprises. They want to know what they are paying for when they book your home. The worst thing you can do is overpromise and under-deliver. It is important you are extremely detailed in your property description and any communication with guests. For example, if you’re going to be on-site during their stay, say so. If you’re only going to provide one roll of toilet paper per bathroom and one roll of paper towels, state that in your listing. Most guests are willing to overlook minor issues because they know that staying in an Airbnb is different from staying in a hotel. But if they feel like you have tried to take advantage of them, their reviews are going to reflect that.

9. Setting House Rules

It is important to do your research and make sure you are operating within the parameters of Airbnb. However, once that is done, it is your house and your rules. It is best to state your rules clearly in your property description and post them in your home. This way you aren’t inviting problems and you are covered if anything does go wrong.

10. Protect Yourself as a Host

Having tenants in a home you own is a risk. You need to have some measures in place to protect yourself. Short term rental insurance is your first step. It is more expensive than regular home insurance but is required if your main use of the property is to rent on Airbnb. You can also require damage protection and security deposits for extra protection. If you have valuables in the home, make sure they are secured behind a locked door.

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