When Airbnb started in 2008, the hotel industry didn’t flinch. It was impossible that guests would want to stay in a complete stranger’s home rather than in a hotel with room service and high cleaning standards, right?
But that wasn’t the case at all.
It took a couple of years for people to start using the service, for Airbnb to build up strong reviews, and for peple to trust that they would be safe – but Airbnb has been a huge success.
Airbnb is now a $10 billion company that’s threatening the hotel industry. There are currently more than 800,000 listings in more than 33,000 cities worldwide with hundreds of millions of bookings made every year.
There are a couple of reasons why they’ve been so successful. First of all, Airbnb is much cheaper than staying in a hotel. Three people can book a room with a private bathroom for an average of $65 – half what it would cost to book a hotel room.
Secondly, many travelers love the comfort of staying in an actual home rather than a hotel with noisy neighbors. They feel it’s cozier and more personal than a hotel. Both of these factors give them a competitive advantage, putting Airbnb accommodations in high demand.
If you live in a touristy place or a large city, such as Houston, Texas, Airbnb accommodations are in even higher demand. People are constantly traveling to this historic city for both recreation and business, and they love the homey accommodations of Airbnb.
For that reason, many Houston homeowners consider renting their homes to travelers on Airbnb – this could be just one room or the entire property. Doing this brings in extra cash to help with the mortgage; plus, you meet interesting people along the way.
If using Airbnb to rent your home sounds interesting, use this guide to get started.
Listing on Airbnb
It may take a lot of work to prepare your property. You’ll need to clean thoroughly and purchase linens for the bedrooms and bathrooms, if you haven’t already.
The actual listing portion of the task is fairly simple. You’ll choose between three categories: entire place, private room, and shared room. Then, you’ll mark your location and specify the number of guests who can stay.
Note that you must obey fire codes when listing your property. Trying to stuff three beds into a 100 square-foot bedroom to increase capacity would be dangerous and breaks the terms of the service agreement.
After you’ve defined the basics of your rental unit, you’ll set up a profile to attract travelers. This part of your listing is key. If you don’t make it look appealing on the page, you’ll have a hard time standing out from other listings in your area.
Use plenty of details in the description. The site will prompt you for these details, but make sure you include landmarks, things to do near your place, the number of bedrooms/beds and bathrooms, and other details that make your property unique. It’s okay to throw in a little personality as well, so that you sound welcoming, but don’t go overboard.
Next, upload pictures. There’s no need for professional quality photos since everyone posts casual photos. The important thing here is not the editing, but the angles. Get different angles of your rooms and the exterior of the house if you’re renting your whole place. Choose the photos that show your home at its best to attract the most attention.
Things to Know Before Starting Airbnb
Setting up your profile is the easy part. Renters can be unpredictable, and there may be laws or restrictions that disqualify you from hosting on Airbnb. Here are some special considerations you should make before publishing your listing.
- Listing While Renting
There are some areas of Airbnb that are a little gray, like subletting your apartment or rental house. If you’re not the owner of the property, you must have express permission from your landlord and/or property owner before posting your spare room on Airbnb. Renting your space without permission from the owner could be grounds for eviction.
- Make Sure You Qualify
You’ll also want to make sure your space qualifies for Airbnb. According to their website, here are the criteria for listing on Airbnb:
- The space must be used strictly for lodging.
- If renting a sailboat, yacht, mobile home, or other vessel, it must be semi-permanently attached to a specified location.
- The space must be accurately portrayed in advertising and location, and the host must be able to book it.
Some people will try to list vehicles or watercraft that are meant for mobile use only, or they’ll try to list something that isn’t meant for lodging. Airbnb will not accept these listings.
Any listing that doesn’t meet these criteria may be deactivated, suspended, or limited according to the Terms of Service on their site.
- Get Insurance Coverage
Airbnb has maintained a good reputation among both travelers and hosts when it comes to renting out properties, but not everyone has good experiences. Sometimes, you’ll deal with untidy, dishonest, and destructive visitors. They may take valuables or leave your home in utter disarray when they leave.
Unfortunately, the typical home insurance plan doesn’t cover damage from short-term renters. To help solve this problem, Airbnb offers a $1 million liability insurance to help cover theft or damage, but it may not cover everything. Research the policy carefully before pursuing a listing, and look into further insurance if you don’t feel their coverage will be adequate.
- Check the Laws
Local or state laws will dictate certain rights and conditions you must consider before renting. Usually, Airbnb will warn you if you’re not properly complying with your local laws. However, it’s not a perfect system. Residents of New York City, for example, have been fined thousands for renting apartments through peer-to-peer services without proper licensing.
If you’re renting in Houston, the regulations are fairly loose and primarily dominated by the home owner when it comes to short-term renters, or renters living in the facility less than 30 days. If you book any long-term renters, however, you’ll need a special license.
- Set House Rules
Before you let anyone stay at your house, you need to set some ground rules. These rules shouldn’t be too restrictive. They aren’t meant to control your renter’s time – rather, they’re meant to protect your property. Therefore, you might make rules about pets, cleaning policies, no-trespass zones, and other important rules for the safety of the renter, yourself, and your property. Basically, your rules prevent destruction when people come and go.
For example, if you’re a strict, non-smoking household, explain that smoking is off limits within 20 feet of the house. Smoke damage is one of the hardest odors to remove, and you risk second-hand smoke by allowing people to smoke on-site. Explain that there’s a fine for breaking the rules and that you reserve the right to remove the renter from the property if they don’t oblige.
Let Green Residential Handle the Details
The worst part about bringing renters into your home through the Airbnb service is setting the ground rules, dealing with difficult tenants, and cleaning up after they leave. If you’re an Airbnb host, the property managers at Green Residential can handle everything.
We’ll help you understand the legalities and your right as the home owner. If there are problems with a tenant, we’ll resolve the issue on your behalf.
We’ll also handle cleaning, maintenance, landscaping, and other maintenance needs before, during, and after the stay. We charge a flat fee for any rentals in the Houston and Katy areas, and we’ll help your Airbnb get glowing reviews.
For more information about the services we offer, contact us today!