Whether you’re thinking about renting that spare room in your house or make profit from your apartment while you’re on vacation, Airbnb is a pretty nice way to make some extra cash.
People sometimes ask about whether becoming an Airbnb host is as easy as Airbnb claims but there’s actually no clear answer to that. It really depends on the city you live in (namely, how easy it is to get a permit), what shape your apartment is in and how you’re actually going to manage your property.
Airbnb makes it seem super easy to become a host, but there are in fact some factors that you have to keep in mind that Airbnb doesn’t really mention. The process might take longer than you imagined, so it’s important to break it down into small steps. I hope that when you’ve read through my 5 steps, you’ll have a clearer picture on what action you need to take in order to become an Airbnb host.
Maybe it goes without saying, but you probably have to own your place in order to rent it out to tourists. If you’re a tenant however, you should check out your lease and see whether there is a clause about subletting. If not, you should ask your landlord for permission before you take any further action.
In some countries, tenants have legal rights to sublet their apartments up to a certain point. If that is the case, clauses that forbid you to sublet the apartment are null and void.
Neighbours are also something you might have to worry about, even if you own the entire apartment. Laws protecting the rights of inhabitants of apartment buildings vary from country to country and you will have to check whether you will need to ask for your neighbours’ consent before you start renting out your apartment to tourists. In any case, it’s always better to inform your neighbours about your plans even if the law doesn’t require their consent.
2. Getting that permit
You will most likely need a permit if you intend to rent your apartment to tourists for short periods of time. The regulations for permits and licences vary from city to city and in some places (especially in touristic destinations) the restrictions are pretty extreme.
It’s really important to get a permit from the government or the city authorities before you list your apartment on Airbnb. If you host without a permit, you might have to pay a fine. In some countries these fines are incredibly high (we’re talking about thousands of Euros in some cases).
Note that in some countries, the authorities might require you to take some measures in order to comply with local regulations on guesthouses or short-term leases. You might have to install a smoke detector, present the floor plan + escape routes, mark all exits and so on. This might be a daunting task, but in some countries it’s necessary.
Finally, you have to make sure that you pay taxes according to laws and regulations that apply. At this point, you might actually want to calculate how much of your income from hosting gets swallowed by the taxman and also figure out whether there are some other expenses that you need to take into account.
Maybe the profit from your Airbnb apartment is not going to be as high as you initially thought. If the profit is significantly smaller than you imagined, it might be a better idea to devote your time and energy to something else.
3. Making your apartment guest-friendly
Chances are that your place is already in a spotless condition and if that is the case, you can skip this step. However, your apartment/room is most likely designed to cater to the needs of inhabitants instead of tourists.
First of all, you need to make sure that your apartment is in good condition. Ordinary wear and tear is something that tourists are usually fine with, but if there’s mold, rust, stains in carpets or curtains, non-functional furniture or anything that could possibly be dangerous for your guests, you really need to fix that problem before you start welcoming tourists.
You should also keep in mind that the needs of your tourists may be different from your own. For instance, you need to make sure that there is enough space for luggage and you might have to consider the needs of young children or disabled people.
4. Promote your apartment in a professional manner
If you have ever browsed through listings on Airbnb, you’ve probably noticed that some of them are presented in a really nice and professional way but others aren’t.
First, let’s talk about photos. It’s absolutely essential to take nice pictures of your place to include in your listing. You probably won’t need a professional photographer and a camera phone could even work. Here are three simple guidelines that you can follow to make sure that your place looks great online:
- Take the pictures when it’s bright. Daylight makes your apartment look brighter.
- Take pictures of every room. Guests want to see how the entire listing looks, also the 1.5 square meter bathroom!
- Make sure that your apartment is tidy and clean before you start taking your pictures. You might think that this goes without saying, but the number of messy apartments on Airbnb tell a different story.
But pictures aren’t everything. You have to find a nice name for your apartment and when you do that, think about what kind of guests you are targeting. Try to use relevant adjectives to describe your place and make sure that the description isn’t misleading in any way. Also try to avoid using exclamation points in excess and CAPS LOCK is something that should also be avoided.
It’s also important to keep the description simple yet precise and try to use a friendly and trustworthy tone of voice. If your English is bad it could be a good idea to pay somebody fluent to write/translate the description.
5. It’s time to welcome your guests
Congrats on your first listing! Now it’s time to clean and prepare your apartment and make sure you have everything your guests are going to need. It’s good to have a checklist that you use every time you’re expecting a new guest, just to make sure that you have shampoo, soap, TP and so on.
Some Airbnb hosts don’t have the time to clean the apartment themselves and get someone else to do it for them. There are quite a lot of businesses that you can pay in order to manage your apartment. If you don’t have time to greet your guests in person, you could attach a key box by your front door which allows your guests to let themselves in.
If you do however greet your guests in person, you should take them around the apartment and show them how things work (or don’t work, if that is the case). Many tourists will ask you for recommendations for restaurants or things to do in the area so it’s good to prepare a list of recommendations that you can give to them.
You can either write down your recommendations on a paper or use online tools, such as the Wanderguide to share your recommendations with your guests. Creating a Wanderguide is actually free of charge and it’s really quick too. If you include bookable tours on your Wanderguide you get a 7% commission every time one of your guests books.
Remember that being an Airbnb host is a 24/7 project. Good communication with your guests is key to good reviews and so is keeping the apartment nice and clean.
And don’t forget that making your guests happy is extremely rewarding. Welcome them with a big smile and you’ll get a big smile in return!