How to put your house on Airbnb

Short term rental of your home has become more and more common. Websites like VRBO and AirBNB are wonderful platforms for one to showcase their home and not have to worry about the administrative and logistical stress of a short term rental. There are many different reasons that one may want to open their home to short term renters, particularly over the holiday months if you live in a city that people want to visit. We did just that this summer.

We packed up most of our home into two rooms we used for storage and opened our home to guest that booked through online platforms. Having upgraded our back yard with a beautiful in ground salt water pool last year, we saw it as an opportunity to help pay for that upgrade. Although it can be financially lucrative to do short term rentals with your home, especially if you live in a tourist destination, it is still your home and there are many things to consider. Here are my top 5 considerations when making your home a short term rental in a tourist market.

1. Prepare your home to be a haven for someone else to rest

This may be your place of residence and your may be used to the clutter or things in your home that you no longer notice, but people who are paying good money to come into your home will notice things you have long forgotten. Just because you find your home restful, doesn’t mean someone else will, especially if it full of your everyday stuff. Our advice is to clear out as much of your stuff that isn’t necessary for their stay as you physically can. Maybe you have an extra room you can lock up with your stuff in it. Maybe your garage can be a place of storage. In addition to decluttering our house, we also acted like guests in our home, figuring out what it would be like for someone to stay in the guest room or use the guest bathroom. Not something we commonly did ourselves. This will help you prepare the home to be fully functional and stress-free for your guests, revealing the little things that could be annoying or are not working properly. This also gives you an opportunity to fix things or make changes that will make the guests stay worry-free and more enjoyable. Decluttering your house and seeing your home from their perspective will allow those who come and stay in your home the opportunity to spend their time making memories with their friends and family, instead of worrying about what is moving in the dark while they are trying to get to sleep.

2. Invite them to see your home as their home and welcome them to enjoy it

There are a few reasons to do this with your short term renters. First off, the hope is that if they are able to see your home as their home they will hopefully take better care of it and be more respectful of your property. Secondly, you want them to enjoy themselves by feeling like they are at home away from home, or even better, in the home they always dreamed of being in themselves. If they see your place as their home they will relax and enjoy themselves. If you live in a nice neighbourhood and know your neighbours part of helping them feel like your home is their home is let your potential house guest know that respecting your neighbours is important to you and needs to be important to them as well. Knowing your guests have your everyone’s best interest in mind is one of the best ways to know that they will treat your home like their home. 

3. Understand your guests’ intentions for your home

This is your home. The place where you live most of the year and have your family over for birthday dinners. The place where your kids rest their heads at night, where they come and share about their school day, the place they come to when they’ve scraped their knee playing outside with their friends. This is not some building that has no meaningful attachments to you. You have to remember that when you are deciding who you are going to allow into your home. Most importantly to this point, is not who they are but how they intend to use your home. Maybe you have great rooms that will give them a nice nights rest so they can go out and see the sights during the day. Maybe you have a beautiful yard with a pool that will allow young families to spend time together and enjoy the summer weather without having to stress about going out somewhere in the city. Whatever it is you offer, do your best to line up guests that will benefit from what you have to offer. Know who your ideal clients are and ask them good questions before approving them to find out if their travel plans and use of your home meet those criteria.

4. Learning from your experiences and listening to your neighbours feedback

Knowing your guests’ intentions should help you find guests that fit well into your home and neighbourhood. However, there are times we take risk with guests, or we realize that who they said they were as a group isn’t who they really are as guests. If you live in a neighbourhood it is to your benefit to let your neighbours know that you are planning on having short term rental guests in your home. Not only does this help them understand the new cars or different people coming and going into your home and their neighbourhood, it also gives you a set of ears and eyes on the happenings at your place while you aren’t there. Hopefully, for the most part, there would be no problems with your house guests, but in the case that you have a guest who isn’t ideal, your neighbours are a great perspective to listen to and learn from in those experiences. Hindsight being 20/20 allows you to listen to your neighbours perspective on your house guests who weren’t ideal and figure out what you might have missed in their communication or how they presented themselves to you was inconsistent with how they conducted themselves while staying in your home. Ultimately your desire is to not repeat the negative experiences, and the feedback you get from your neighbours can help you figure out where you may have made a mistake in choosing which guest to accept as house guests in your home. 

5. Move back in slowly and figure out what it is you really need

Because you’ve done a good job of clearing out your clutter to help make your home a haven for your guests, once you are done temporarily or seasonally hosting guests, you now have to move your stuff back into your home. 

But WAIT! Do you have to move it all back in? One of the things that was revealing for us this past short term rental season was our ability to survive and even thrive with much less stuff. That’s right, we moved back in during the down days of our home not having house guests this summer and we left our stuff we had packed away mostly alone. We lived out of our suitcases of clothes and our house having only the necessities that our guests would need in the closets and cupboards. It was refreshing and liberating not to have stuff that was just there, but never used, in my bedside drawer for example. This experience had lead us to clearcut the storage rooms we had created with our stuff slowly and methodically. Yes, there were items that we put back immediately, either because we actually needed and used them daily or because they were items that were too valuable or sentimental to leave out for the house guests. However, most of the clothes from my closet and my drawers are still on the hanging rack or in a box in the storage room downstairs. Our intention is to move things back as we use them and after 6 months ask ourselves, “If we haven’t used this in half a year. Do we really need it?” We will see how that goes, but we are giving it a shot. If we can successfully get rid of the clutter we don’t need or want, then ultimately we will have less stuff to pack up next year when we do this all over again during our busy season of tourism and short term accommodations in the place we live. 

Although opening your home to strangers has it’s risks, if you apply some or all of this advice I believe that you have an excellent opportunity to make some good money and allow your home to benefit both your family, as you travel or take a trip yourself, and other families who are hoping to do just the same thing in the place you get to live.

Hopefully, it’s a win-win for everyone.