4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Hosting on Airbnb

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The following post is by BrightNest:

Airbnb is officially mainstream these days – no matter what you think their new logo looks like. In fact, 56% of hosts in San Francisco say they use their Airbnb-earned cash to take a bite out of their mortgage or rent.

But is it worth it for you to rent your home on Airbnb?

Like most secondary sources of revenue, there's a lot those goes into an Airbnb rental before you start to see any benefits. Taxes, state laws and your personal time are all things to consider.

Here are four questions to ask yourself before you become an Airbnb host:

1. How Much Can I Realistically Earn?

Figure this out first, so you can gauge whether the rest of the work is worth the hassle. Airbnb has a handy tool to help you estimate how much you can earn each month, along with some general pricing tips.

Tip: Be realistic about how often you're willing to have strangers in your home. If you're going to need some decompression time between guests, that'll reduce the amount of cash you ultimately earn.

2. Is it Legal?

Before you start purchasing cute knickknacks and extra towels for your amateur B&B operation, make sure you're not breaking the law! If you're a renter, many landlords will prohibit you from taking on sublets without special permission.

Even if you own your home, there may still be some state laws that make it hard to legally rent a room out on Airbnb. For example, in New York City it's legal to rent a room in your home as long as you continue to occupy your home at the same time. If you vacate the premise (or restrict access to the renter), you're technically breaking the law and can be fined up to $5,000!

Determining the laws in your area can mean combing through confusing zoning laws and even purchasing specific permits. If you want to be a law-abiding Airbnb host, expect a little bit of legalese-induced irritation along the way.

3. How Much New Stuff Will I Have to Buy?

When friends come to visit you, is there ever suddenly a rush to dig up things like extra towels and clean sheets for them? Well, Airbnb guests will require just as much (if not more) accouterments for their visits. Here are just a few items you'll need on-hand and in good condition before guests start arriving:

  • Bed (and all of the things that go with it: frame, headboard, bedding and mattress cover)
  • Beside table and lamp
  • Towels (including hand towels and wash clothes)
  • Extra trash cans
  • TV + cable (people expect it!)
  • Storage space (including dressers and coat racks)
  • Extra dishware and utensils

If you plan on renting out your entire house, this list can go on for quite some time. So consider the money and time you'll need to spend getting your home or guestroom "Airbnb ready" before you sign up.

4. Am I OK with Strangers in My Home?

Anytime a rando stays in your home overnight, there are risks. Damage and theft by Airbnb guests are very rare, but horror stories have occurred. (A guest of comedian Ari Teman actually hosted an orgy in his apartment...yikes.)

The far more likely scenario is a guest who snores a little too loud or doesn't clean up very well after themselves, which aren't disasters. But this is still an imposition to your routine. Can you handle it?

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