You’ve probably heard about people who do this. With all the various home rental service that exist today – such as Airbnb – it’s easy to find people who want to stay in your home when you’re travelling. And many people find that it’s a great way of financing their own travel plans.
But is it a good idea? What factors do you have to take into consideration? Are there any pitfalls?
Those who travel on business – at someone else’s expense – can find that renting out their home while they’re away can go a long way towards financing a trip for pleasure at a later date. And it is a good idea – as long as you’re prepared for strangers in your home.
HAVE SOMEONE AT HAND
The first thing that you have to establish is who is going to deal with your guests or handle any emergencies in your absence. This can be a trusted neighbour or friend. Choose this contact person wisely. Some might do it as a favour to you, some might want cash. Be sure that it’s someone local who can get to your place quickly if required.
Be sure that the guests know his/her phone number and at what hours they are available. The ideal person is someone who is retired or works from home. A great alternative is to look for someone who has experience in dealing with short term rentals – an Airbnb host would be ideal. What might they have to deal with?
- Greeting the guests and letting them in. Someone will need to do this to show guests any peculiarities about your home, such as how to adjust the heating or how the shower works. Greeting guests is an art in itself and it’s better not to leave this to anyone who is inexperienced
- Be able to deal with unexpected issues. For example, make sure that they are armed with the contact numbers of your electrician, plumber and a handyman
- Consider all the problems that might occur and know how to fix them. What happens if the internet goes down or if the cable TV isn’t working? How will your deputy cope if a window is broken or the mattress is stained beyond redemption?Have a game plan for emergencies
- Check on your home and the guests from time to time to ensure that everything is fine and that the guests are happy. Your photograph is on the listing and your guests are renting from you
Even though you are away from home it’s a good idea for you to be available if your contact person needs you. He or she won’t know every detail of your home. The guest might have a simple inquiry that only you can answer. If you’re going to be in the back of beyond where no one can contact you, then renting out your home might not be the best idea for you unless you have complete confidence in your contact person.
PREPARE YOUR HOME
It might seem like overkill but it’s important to lock away any valuables – whether their value is monetary or sentimental. Move as much as possible into a locked room or cupboard. If you are going to accept families make sure that there is nothing in your home that could be hazardous to children.
Be sure that your home is super-clean. Leave spare linens and towels. Even when a stay is short, if a guest spills water on the bedding, you’ll want to provide extra for their comfort. Have a set of house rules in place so that guests know what is expected from them.
CHOOSE GUESTS WISELY
Large numbers of guests are not acceptable as this can often lead to parties. Although I mentioned children above, be aware that having kids in the home can lead to additional wear and tear – and more cleaning afterwards. Have a security deposit in place in case of damages but this being said, expect that there might be minor damage such as a stained towel or a broken glass. Set your price with this in mind.
People who are travelling on business are usually a good bet. If you’re using Airbnb be sure to look at the previous reviews that your potential guests have from previous hosts. Good too are those who are travelling to your area to see family members who live locally.
LEAVE PLENTY OF INFORMATION AND USEFUL ITEMS
Guests often want to know what’s going on in the area or the best places to see. Your local library will more than likely have information leaflets they can give you. Add these to your rental. If your guests are out and about seeing the sights, that means less wear and tear on your property.
When you’re getting your place ready for renting, make sure that everything your guests are likely to need, within reason, is available to them. For example you can’t expect them to take out the trash if there are no trash bags. Think about the little things – is there enough toilet paper for their stay? Is there liquid so that they can do the dishes? You don’t want to come home to a mound of dirty dishes and with the garbage not taken out.
TALK TO YOUR NEIGHBOURS
If you decide to rent out your home or room while you’re away the chances are that you’ll want to do so several times. After all, by doing this a few times a year, you can earn enough to have a good trip yourself. So be sure to talk to your neighbours and let them know what’s going on.
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER
- Be aware that you should not be subletting your home at all if you are renting your place and it’s against the terms of your lease. It may also be against the rules of your homeowners’/condo association even if you own your own home
- For added peace of mind, you are allowed to have security cameras outside you home as long as this is disclosed to your guests in advance
- Be sure to contact your home insurance provider to let them know that you are operating a short term rental. This may lead to increased premiums but is essential
- Bear in mind that your utility bills may increase if you are doing this regularly. Guests who come to your place from warmer climes may use much more heating than you do for example. Guests may have three or even four long showers a day that will add to your costs
- On sites such as Airbnb you can block off any dates that your place isn’t available
Renting out your home while you’re away is not for everyone but with a little planning it can be a great way to make extra money for your own trips.
JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.