The Ugly Truth About Airbnb: What It’s Really Like to Turn Your Home into a Vacation Rental

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These days, it’s all about the gig economy. We hail an Uber instead of a traditional yellow cab. We work freelance jobs at rented desks. And we stay in Airbnbs instead of hotels. Have you been thinking about turning your spare room into a vacation rental? Read this first!

Many people have been tempted to rent out extra bedrooms, garage apartments, and other properties by the night. Theoretically, you can make much more with Airbnb guests instead of traditional renters. However, the truth is more complicated.

Reaching for the Stars

Becoming an Airbnb host isn’t really a source of passive income. You’ll need to work–or at least pay someone else to work–very hard to earn the all-mighty stars in your reviews. Those reviews, in turn, will determine how likely you are to get more guests.

Guests expect amenities above and beyond a typical hotel. That includes drinks and snacks, luxury linens, impeccable decor, and more. Above all, the property has to be sparkling clean.

Even then, you’ll get negative reviews. It’s just human nature. You might think you’ve done everything possible to ensure a wonderful stay, but you just can’t please some people.

Is It Safe?

Then there’s the issue of safety and security. You are inviting a total stranger into your home, after all. While they probably won’t destroy the place, minor damage is part of the deal. Don’t put your heirlooms on display. In fact, remove every item you care about from the space.

If you can’t stand the idea of having a stranger sleeping in the bedroom next to yours, then you’ll need to find or create a separate rental unit. Backyard cottages, garage apartments, and finished basements are all possible options. Some hosts manage more than one off-site rental property, essentially becoming a mini hotel chain.

You will need to get additional insurance, both to protect your property and against injury liability in case something happens to your guests.

Always on the Clock

The other issue to consider before you decide to become an Airbnb host is the time commitment. Guests expect quick–even instant–communication when they have an issue.

Some hosts like to be more hands-on, interacting with their visitors and serving as tour guides. Others prefer to leave their guests alone unless otherwise requested, but they still need to be available to handle any problems.

Plenty of people who choose to rent out their homes love the experience. You’ll get to meet folks from all over the country (and the world!) while earning extra money. However, if you think that an Airbnb rental is an easy way to make a buck, you’ll be unpleasantly surprised.