So you’ve decided to venture into a brave new world: you want to become an Airbnb host. We wouldn’t blame you.
According to Priceconomics, Airbnb hosts rake in an average of $924 a month — and according to Airbnb’s own surveys, FastCompany says, a full 87 percent of Airbnb hosts are the primary residents in the home or apartment they rent. And if you’re in the 10 percent who make Airbnb your primary business? FastCompany describes a San Francisco man who rents out several apartments for Airbnb. He makes six figures a year.
But how to keep yourself — and your property — safe while you host? You stand to lose a lot of money, possibly get scammed, and deal with destruction of your property. Luckily, there’s plenty you can do to protect yourself.
Keep It On Airbnb
Airbnb warns both hosts and guests to keep everything about their transactions, from chatter to monetary exchange, on their own system. Once you leave Airbnb and say, take it to email, you start to lose the protection of the company if something goes wrong now or down the road. When it comes to money, they have a secure platform that assures money goes where the person says it did; the company claims it also has plenty of protection from third-party scammers and phishers.
Don’t Rent If There’s A Concern
You can always refuse a rental, and this is especially important if you’re renting to people who will be staying in your house while you’re home (as is the law in cities like New York City). Experienced Airbnb hosts say to watch out for people whose profile picture isn’t of themselves but an object instead. Would-be renters with incomplete profiles and those without reviews (first timers) are also possible red flags.
Beware of locals, too — why book an AirBnb in your own town? People who ask a million questions are likely to be difficult guests; people who are sketchy about how many people will be coming along should also raise concerns. Most of all, trust your gut. You’re potentially sharing a space with this person.
[But what if you’re an Airbnb guest? We’ve got tips for you, too.]
Carefully Consider Your House Rules
Security deposits are held until checkout, and you can manage cleaning fees through the website. Make sure guests know where they can and cannot go, if you allow pets, and if your property is non-smoking. If you allow guests, you have basically no control over who guests bring into your shared space — those people can potentially stay overnight, and they don’t have to pay for it. Once your guests agree to your rules, you can cancel their reservation immediately if the rules are violated, with no penalty from Airbnb.
Lock Up Your Valuables
If you’re in a shared living situation, that means removing all your personal items from that shared space. Anything valuable must be locked up, including jewelry, electronics that aren’t your TV, money, and any personal information. These should be put somewhere behind lock and key where your guests can’t get to them.
Use Smart Tech
No, don’t put cameras on your guests — they tend not to like that. A motion sensor can let you know if a guest is coming into a forbidden area while you’re gone, and a programmable keyless entry, which you can change regularly, can negate the need for keys — thus killing the worry that someone’s copying your key and traipsing around town with it after their Airbnb time is over.
Airbnb offers insurance to hosts — called Host Guarantee and Host Protection Insurance. The former covers property damage up to $1,000,000, and the latter covers liability coverage up to the same amount for every listing. But while Airbnb will cover theft and damage, you still need appropriate home insurance.
And remember: there’s a website out there called “Airbnb Hell” for a reason. While the vast majority of people have a lovely time with their Airbnb experience, others do not. Be safe, and be careful — especially if you’re letting strangers into your home.