Airbnb hosting offers homeowners the opportunity to create a hospitality business in minutes. The account set up is simple and the $1m ‘host guarantee’ coverage is attractive – but what do you really need to know before taking the plunge?
Hosting a space in your own home
If you host a space in your own home, you’ll be sharing your space with a stranger, so the more information you give, the better. When creating your listing add in all the details about how a guest should treat your home, for instance: what is shared (does this include your piano?), preferences such as no perfume in the house (wiping down the walls with vinegar to remove strong smells is no fun) and what time you like the house to be quiet. Remove things from shared spaces that cannot be replaced, as even with the best intentions, accidents happen. Finally, mentally run through how you will feel sharing your space. Are you OK if you cannot shower as the bathroom is full, or if a guest is a little bit rough with your pots and pans? Just like a hotel, your home will have to bear the wear and tear of more use.
Hosting a space where you don’t live
Hosting rooms in a shared house or hosting an entire house/condo etc., rather than setting up traditional leases can increase monthly rental income. Most landlords will not set up a lease shorter than six months, so Airbnb is popular with international students, interns and professionals who require a space for a shorter time. A serviced apartment typically rents for $115 a night in Ottawa, so depending on your location, space and amenities, AirbnB can be lucrative for short stays. The only challenge is getting the same level of reviews as you would when hosting in your own home; the less interaction you have with a guest, the less generous they are with their reviews. You can minimize this by checking in with them in person, a quick text every week and personal touches like a welcome note and gift.
If you are hosting a space in your own home and have pets, be very clear about this in your listing and always re-confirm this when a guest books. A friend had one scenario where the guest said they were fine with small dogs, but what the guest really meant was ‘fine with dogs as long as they don’t touch me.’ As dogs are social this was impossible and meant the poor pup was locked upstairs for a week. If in doubt, ask the guest – any issues later, if reviewed by Airbnb, will be in writing so you are both protected.
Insurance and Legal
Why would you need insurance when you have the $1m host guarantee? Airbnb recently placed an advert on Facebook to thank hosts for their service. This backfired in a huge way when hosts commented that Airbnb could keep their thanks as they do not support hosts when damages were reported, or missing items. So, the coverage is there, but treated on a case by case basis. You also don’t want to invalidate your own home insurance, so run everything past your insurance broker to ensure you are covered for liability, theft and other damages. If your hosting is viewed as a business, your broker may also advise you to purchase commercial insurance. If you are in a condo, read through your condo corp documents to ensure you can run an air bnb legally. The Airbnb website also has a lot of guidance on rules that apply to your province and property.
The competition is heating up
Airbnb used to be about price, being cheaper than a local hotel was the only criteria to get booked. Now when people stay in an Airbnb it is often as they are expecting a more personal or unique experience. Hosts are competitive; they leave notes, chocolates, bathrobes, slippers, filtered water, offer airport pickups – checkout your local competition and see how you can make your listing stand out.
In the next blog, we’ll look at how to maximize your Airbnb income and how the new rules affect hosts. If you are thinking of buying an investment property, or selling your home, please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org .