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The ABCs of Airbnb: Prepping Your Home as a Short-Term Rental Space

Research suggests revenue from short-term vacation rentals will surpass the hotel industry in 2020. In fact, Airbnb reports that on any given night, there are 2 million people staying at one of its properties. If you’re looking to make extra income listing your space with a hosting platform, keep in mind the following tips for preparing well:

A: Adjust Your Security Measures

If you’re not up for transporting items off property every time you have a renter, select a small bedroom to use for storage. When you’re stepping out so guests can step in, utilize this room–with door hardware that includes a lock and key–to keep pricey and personal items out of sight and out of mind. This may be where you relocate your computer, your laundry, photographs of family (should they want to remain anonymous), and important personal and business paperwork while renters are in your home. Also, consider investing in a Wi-Fi enabled doorbell camera, which will make short recordings of the space immediately outside your door as guests come and go from your property. If you’re willing, you can give your tenants access to the doorbell monitoring via their own smartphones. The added security feature will make your guests feel more secure. 

B: Be Hospitable

Walt Disney once said, “Do what you do so well that they want to see it again and bring their friends.” Set a tone that will welcome repeat visitors by keeping a binder in the living room with access codes, phone numbers, and restaurant recommendations. You can also include a friendly greeting from you as the property owner, directions to the nearest emergency room, your Wi-Fi password, and perhaps instructions on what to do with the trash before they head back home. Also, be flexible about what you leave in the pantry and fridge. Guests may not realize your Cheese-Itz and Lemon La Croix were not for their consumption. Instead of worrying about whether your snacks get touched while you’re away, consider buying bottled waters and treats you encourage your guests to enjoy while they’re on site.

C: Consider Whether You Are Properly Insured

It is unlikely your homeowner’s insurance offers you the protection you need when renting out your space on a short-term basis. Here’s why. In a perfect world, your homeowner’s insurance would step in and pay for your legal defense and settlement costs should an accident happen while a renter is in your home. And you may even find that your homeowner’s insurance allows for a one-night-a-year rental for a special event, like should you want to capitalize on your city hosting a major sporting event. However, if you’re renting your property regularly, it may seem to your insurer that you are operating a small business, which excludes you from the coverage you think you have. Landlord insurance may prove equally unhelpful, as that typically applies to long-term rentals alone. Your best coverage options for regularly renting out your home to short-term guests are threefold: You can contact your insurer about your plans and see if your current policy is enough. You can ask about an endorsement to add coverage to your existing policy. Or, you can purchase a business policy such as a bed and breakfast policy.

In addition to understanding your own insurance, look into what claims the hosting platform will cover. Some companies, like Homeaway and Airbnb, will provide you with $1 million coverage in liability insurance. But be sure to read the fine print. Some of these offerings are primary coverage, and some are not, meaning any other liability policy you already hold will also participate should a claim be filed against you. The policies may be intended for injuries a guest incurs while at your home or may also include compensation for damage a guest does to your personal property. Read your contract with the hosting platform carefully to make sure you understand what is included in the basic fee and what perhaps would come at an additional cost.