6 things you need to do before becoming a vacation rental host

If you own and operate properties, you’ve likely contemplated becoming a short-term rental host on vacation rental sites like Airbnb and Homeaway. With these sites handling the majority of the paperwork and details (even insurance), it’s quite tempting. Before taking that step, however, it’s important to understand what the journey entails.

1. Be prepared to invest the time

Reducing time commitment is a common motive for property owners to choose the vacation rental route. However, it’s a misconception to believe that you don’t have to put time into your business to achieve success, particularly early on.

It takes a commitment to get set up as a host and acclimated to the booking systems facilitated on vacation hosting sites. Even beyond that, you’re still in charge of tackling property hiccups and guest challenges that arise during stays. If you’re unwilling or unable to dedicate the time to preparing, maintaining and marketing your property, consider hiring a management company to take care of this for you. They’ll cover everything from the photos, to getting guests checked in, to handling cleaning and repairs on the rental.

2. Inform your neighbors and your landlord

Consider the implications on landlords and neighbors of converting your property to a vacation rental. If you rent, your landlord likely isn’t keen on you using your condo or apartment as a business operation without first giving notice. There might even be a no-sublet clause in your rental agreement.

Make sure your neighbors know who’s in charge of the property, providing them with your contact details (or your management’s contact details) in case of emergency or problems. Remind incoming guests of any house rules or regulations, such as enforced quite hours. As for a landlord – keep them in the loop; the no-sublet clause may be negotiable, especially if it’s short-term or a one-time occurrence.

3. Protect yourself and your guests

There are some serious personal risks associated with vacation rentals. First, you are liable if guests get hurt or suffer property damage when renting. Vacation rental sites usually offer hosts direct access to liability insurance to help offset the financial risks. You might also be shocked to learn that some hosts have fallen victim to squatters.
Investigate “squatters rights” laws in your region, which often protect access for people after a stay of 30 days or more. Limited rental durations help mitigate this risk.

4. Learn the laws of the land

Take the time to review local laws that may affect a rental host in your city, state or province, or country. Some jurisdictions have rules on the length of short-term rentals and number of occupants of a property, for instance.

5. Vacation rental marketplaces are your best bet

Millions of people around the world now turn to online sites like Airbnb, Homeaway and Panda Bed for property rentals. This massive community gives hosts immediate access to a much larger pool of prospects than you typically get trying to promote a property independently. You can also leverage the support features and tools available to hosts looking to create a quality listing that attracts eyeballs.

6. Research pricing

Many different factors affect how you price your property. Location, location, location is not just a saying; other factors like number of bathrooms, amenities, parking, proximity to public transportation, nightlife and other attractions…all of these need to be considered. Do some research to see what similar property hosts are charging. You can also invest in some additional upgrades to charge extra. Many vacation rental sites will allow you to set different prices for high season, weekends, or give discounts for various factors.

read next