Have a pad that’s just waiting to be on the top 10 list of “most astounding AirBnBs?”  Have a mortgage to pay? Love meeting new people and learning about diverse cultures? Or you may have lost your job and putting out a mattress out on the living room to make money (check out AirBnB’s origin story) looks pretty good right about now. The good news is you can make a decent income out of this gig.

If you have an extra space that’s just lying idle, it’s time to spruce it up and get some mileage out of it.  But there is an all-important checklist you need to consider even before you start making that stunning slideshow of your studio apartment or condo to list on Airbnb. For starters, you will be renting out to complete strangers and in some cases even sharing living space with them. You will be responsible for their safety and comfort, so get ready for emergencies and weekend dedicated to the maintenance of your home. But, if done right (AirBnB has detailed guidelines plus the hosting community is pretty helpful), you could make a success of this. We’ll tell you how.

Play by the rules

The very first thing is to make sure that you are following all the rules and laws of the land. Airbnb provides guidelines and regulations on their website, specific to regions and cities, so make sure you’ve checked all those boxes, chief among them being following the fire safety codes, residential tenancy laws and licensing and zoning laws of the province you reside in. The site has a somewhat useful link for responsible hosting in Canada which outlines (without providing specific websites or links to resources) what a host needs to be mindful of before posting their property. There’s information ranging from what permissions you would need to what kind of insurance you would require. But all the information is generic, and you would do some research on your own to get specifics. For example, in December last year, Toronto City Council passed rules declaring that homeowners cannot list basement apartments. In Quebec, AirBnB automatically collects a 3.5 percent tax on bookings for stays of under 31 days.

Make it presentable

Once you’ve got all your facts and figures ready, it’s time to stage your home. It’s all about perspective after all. Firstly, clean your space (you’ll be surprised how the tiniest speck of dust can show up in photos and make it look unkempt) and then go on to decluttering. Your guests don’t need to see every spotty dish rag or unwashed stuffie in your home.

Though most Airbnb hosts advice that your home should look lived in and thus cozy and inviting, there’s no need to be wildly homely. Ever been to an open house while house hunting? Take some pointers and stack up some tasteful coffee table books or a bowl of planters or even artificial fruit to infuse an element of class into your space – getting professional home stagers is not a bad idea here. Fix any loose appliances and nuts and bolts that are coming off to avoid any mishaps. Also, make sure that all valuables are locked away, and all unnecessary furniture and tchotchkes are safely kept away in storage to be brought out only when you want to enjoy your own home.

Click, click, click!

Airbnb does provide professional photographers who know exactly how to present your space in the best light possible but do check if those services are provided in your city. If not, then you might have to take pictures yourself. Make an effort and try to hire or borrow a good camera (you iPhone should really be your last resort) or even track down a friend or family member who is a professional photographer to take the photos. But if it’s going to be you doing the heavy lifting, professional photographers have some great tips, the most important among them being:

  • Make sure that you have great light and make sure there’s no direct sunlight behind any images to avoid silhouetting.
  • Take photos from a slightly elevated angle (like a stepladder in your kitchen) to show the full expanse of the room you are photographing.
  • Take lots of photos, giving a variety of shots both indoor and outdoor to provide a true sense of the space.

Make it accessible

smart lock for short term rentals

Image courtesy of August

To save you and your guest the headache of check-ins and checkouts, get a lockbox or even better, embrace smart tech and get an electric lock or a smart lock. There are a few cool options like a WiFi door lock which enables you to monitor check-ins remotely even providing you with text alerts if someone punches in a wrong code. Then there’s the Lockitron – a low energy, bluetooth operated electric lock that functions even when the power is out. What’s more, you can lock and unlock the door remotely using their app available both on Android and iOS systems. Or you could go with a simple combination code lockbox for an easy key exchange. You can also leave your keys with a trusted neighbour or hand it over yourself for that personal touch. Whatever option you choose, make sure it’s seamless and simple. You don’t want your guests to be put off by hassling over how to get into their rental start off their trip or vacation.

Pamper your guests

“I provide a small, regional gift for breakfast, depending on the season (special and rare Fir honey from mountain farmers, cheese from mountain farmers, fresh juice and fruit from farmers a few villages away.” This is a post from the Airbnb website by a host in Germany, and you can bet that she is one of the most sought-after rentals in the city. You don’t necessarily have to dive into a hive to get a jar of golden honey or crochet mug sleeves for your guests but making sure that the basics- toiletries, extra blankets, a decent amount of pots and pans, local emergency numbers and other such necessities are covered makes for a happy renter. Of course, if renting out to a family, a cleaning service, board games and toys, information about local attractions and the nearest grocery store is a nice touch. From personal experience, pool toys and kid-sized life jackets in the summer and snowshoes in the winter are immensely appreciated!

So go ahead, take the plunge, set up your rental and rack up those 5-star reviews. Don’t forget to tell us what worked for you and what didn’t while renting out your space!

Posted by Baisakhi Roy