AirBnB Dining Room

Any travelers out there? I love to travel.

With all the trips I’ve taken, my sister asked me if I’d ever thought of trying to Airbnb my home while I was away. Why not try to make a little extra cash when my home is empty? It hadn’t even really occurred to me until then.

And really, it sounded simple enough. But then I started thinking. I live in my home. It’s not a vacation home. All of my things are here. Would I really want strangers in my home? Using my things? Sleeping in my bed?

What if they break something? Hook up on my couch? Have a crazy party and destroy the place?

So, I did some research on what it would take to be a short term rental host.

Of course, I would need to create a listing somewhere, maybe Airbnb or VRBO. But the real question was how would I get my home ready for strangers if and when someone actually books it???

Here’s a rundown of what I discovered (and a few tips in case you’re interested in doing the same).

Take a Tour Around Your Home

After you’ve gone through every room, the next step is to think about what you want to restrict access to. If I AirBnB my home, should guests have access to all closets? Drawers?

In my home, I close off access to my main closets. My hallway closet has a keypad door knob, and my bedroom closet is also locked down. If you don’t want to install locks, but just want to keep people out of your stuff, then try zip-tying your doors together. It will signal guests that those areas are off limits, and that there isn’t anything valuable enough to break in for, since you’re just using a zip-tie to secure it.

Worried about expensive kitchen equipment? Get magnetic child locks and install them on your cupboards. They aren’t visible from outside the cupboards, so it won’t detract from your kitchen aesthetic. Then just engage the magnets when you have short term rental guests. You can even put a note on those cabinets saying ‘Owner Storage’ to let them know it’s locked.

Don’t want your short term rental guests accessing your junk room? Just lock the door and don’t advertise that room as being available in your Airbnb, VRBO or HomeAway listing.

Locking It Down

If you’re thinking of converting your primary home into a space that could potentially be used to host short term rentals, the first thing I recommend is for you to ‘tour’ your own home. That’s right, go room by room, and think about what you wouldn’t want a stranger to see or have access to.

Start in the living room and then make your way through the rest of your home. Imagine your place as a boutique hotel.

It’s ok if you have personal pictures up and memorabilia on the walls and shelves. But do you have anything that’s irreplaceable, that you would be devastated if something happened to it? Pull out your phone or grab a pen and paper and start making a list of these priceless things.

AirBnB My Home: Playing By the Book

Once you’re done evaluating how to convert your home into a short term rental, you’ll also need to take a look at your local regulations to make sure you’re following all necessary requirements.

Depending on where your home is located, there may be a number of laws and restrictions that regulate the use of property for rental purposes. To avoid potential headaches and costly fines down the road, start by calling or checking the website of your local city or town.

If you rent your place, check your lease agreement to find out if you are allowed to sublet. Even if you own your home, there may be some restrictions imposed by your mortgage company with regards to renting out the property, so do your homework.

Lastly, if you are a part of a homeowner’s association, then inquire about any restrictions relating to renting or subletting.

Protecting Yourself

Another important thing I considered when preparing to AirBnb my home is whether or not I might need additional insurance as an Airbnb or VRBO host. You want to cover yourself, just in case something happens while guests are staying at your property.

Start by checking with your insurance company to determine whether your current policy will cover short term rentals. Many policies will, but in some instances, you may need to acquire additional landlord insurance.

It’s better to know this and prepare for it in advance than to find out the hard way that you aren’t adequately covered.

Last Minute Touches

Last, but not least, before I can AirBnB my home, I need to make sure it is AirBnB friendly. In other words, make it safe, attractive and comfortable for prospective renters. Think about what you would look for if you were evaluating a short term rental for yourself.

Make sure your furniture and appliances are in good condition and that all safety equipment (like smoke detectors and fire extinguishers) are accessible and in working order.

You may also want to purchase an extra set of linens to be used exclusively for when you have guests renting your place. That way you won’t have to worry about strangers using your personal sheets and towels.

At the end of the day, turning your home into a short term rental isn’t nearly as scary or complicated as you may think. And, as I’ve discovered, the profit you can make while traveling makes it well worth the effort.

Ready to get started? Make sure you’re playing by your local rules first.

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