Do house guests joke that your house would make a great vacation resort? Hey, maybe they’re on to something.
You could list your space on Airbnb, where everyday people rent their private homes to travelers. Around 60 million people have booked accommodations using Airbnb since it opened in 2008, and the database currently contains more than two million listings.
Why shouldn’t your home be one of them? Not only is listing your space on Airbnb a means to extra money, it’s also an impetus for clearing clutter.
“One reason for becoming an Airbnb host was to get and keep my home organized,” said Lisa Spector, who rents her 1,600 square foot loft in Half Moon Bay, CA, a coastal town south of San Francisco. Spector’s guests have the place to themselves when she and her dogs travel.
“It’s been a great motivator to get rid of a lot of stuff and make upgrades for my guests that I also get to enjoy,” Spector said.
Whether you’ve got a bungalow in Buffalo or a loft in L.A., somebody on Airbnb wants to book it. Here’s what you need to do to get started:
Look up city regulations. New York City requires most paying, non-hotel guests to stay at least 30 days. San Luis Obispo, CA, requires Airbnb hosts to get a business license and pay extra taxes. Consult your city’s website for local laws.
Sign up. Go to Airbnb’s How to Host, where you’ll find tips on pricing, listing amenities and creating a host profile. Listing is free, and Airbnb takes a 3% host service fee for each booking.
Take good photos. In many cities, Airbnb will even match you with a professional photographer for free.
Specify length of stay. Lori Malett of Milwaukee listed her entire home after buying a new house last fall. She and her husband planned to sell the first home in the spring so they rented the house only to guests staying a few days. “One wanted to rent for 18 months. Another wanted to stay this summer, and I knew we were listing in the spring,” she said.
Stay safe. Airbnb members can connect their profiles to social media pages, contact information, photo IDs and reviews from hosts and guests. Hosts can require guests to complete certain verifications. “I said no to a lot of people who didn’t have a review,” said Malett. “I would always call back and ask them to tell me more about why they are coming to the area.”
Now it’s time to get the place organized. Below are several tips for how to make your home rental-ready:
1. Clear unnecessary stuff.
Spector donated clothing, organized kitchen shelves and upgraded sheets and towels.
“I started with the bathroom and kitchen,” Spector said.
Empty cabinets and the pantry for guests who might bring their own food, said Ellen Delap, a certified professional organizer. “Free up counter space as much as possible,” Delap said.
Remove medications and cosmetics from the bathroom and stow unused kitchen appliances. Provide lots of closet space. Consider a storage locker on the premises for towels, dishware and other guest items.
2. Specify off-limits items and remove valuables.
Spector doesn’t allow guests to play her Steinway grand piano. If a guest can’t resist, that person forfeits the security deposit. For extra security, Airbnb also provides liability coverage up to $1 million for personal injury or property damage.
3. Add welcoming and inviting touches.
“I created this whole coffee/tea area,” said Spector. “I usually leave treats in the fridge, a bottle of wine and fresh flowers all over the house.”
4. Store extraneous items.
Try using a full-service storage company like New York-based MakeSpace, which loads your items and transports to a climate-controlled storage facility.
“You haul nothing and you waste zero days,” said Jose Zuniga, marketing manager at MakeSpace. Need that extra love seat back between bookings? Just tap its photo in MakeSpace’s online catalog of your stuff, and they’ll deliver it.
6. Consider pet preferences.
State the pet policy and let guests know if you own pets. “I’m very clear that I have dogs, and they live here regularly, said Spector. “I’ve had some people contact me who are allergic, and they said it probably wouldn’t work.”
7. Offer instructions.
Malett provides a welcome packet with security codes and explains house quirks like the ceiling fan that pops on unexpectedly. She asks guests to strip the beds at checkout, toss towels and sheets in the hamper and set out the trash.
It’s also a good idea to label cabinets and light switches and leave directions for remotes and Wi-Fi passwords.
Malett removed her listing from Airbnb recently when the house sold but wouldn’t hesitate to list a short-term rental again. “They’re a piece of cake to manage with Airbnb,” Malett said.