Got Extra Space? Make Money and Meet Travelers With Short-Term Rentals
If you have a penchant for meeting new people and playing host, have you considered short-term rentals to travelers?
You can rent out anything from a spare couch to a spare room to a full apartment or house, and you can be as hands-on with your guests (or not) as you wish. Your guests will get a local living experience, and they'll probably save some money over cookie-cutter-hotel alternatives. (See also: 7 Steps to Market Your Extra Space as a Vacation Rental)
Sites That Connect Travelers and Rentals
Below are a variety of services that will help you with the logistics of renting out your nook. Most of them are free to use; they'll market your listing, handle payment processing, and provide a secure platform for communication and privacy protection. Some will even send out a photographer and help you create a professional listing to maximize your rental potential.
With Roomorama, you can list anything from a spare bedroom to your entire house or apartment. There are no fees at all for the host (guests are charged an additional booking fee that covers Roomorama's expenses).
Wimdu boasts a wide range of accommodations from apartments and houses to couch space, tents, and boats. Hosts are charged 3% of the booking fee to cover processing and handling.
9flats allows you to rent out a variety of accommodations. It's free for hosts to use (they tack on an additional percentage to your price to cover their costs).
9flats just acquired iStopover, which I wrote about a few years ago here — iStopover: Earn Extra Income or Travel on the Cheap.
Airbnb is free to list, but you pay 3% of the guest charges on successful bookings to cover fees. The sky is the limit in terms of what you can rent out; you can list anything from a parking space to an igloo to shared rooms, full houses, lighthouses, caves, and even trains, tipis, and tree houses.
Go With Oh
Go With Oh is currently only in major European cities, and each city is separately managed with its own subsidiary website and management team. The whole process is free for hosts, but hosting possibilities are limited to full apartment rentals.
Tips and Etiquette
Although short-term rental services for travelers are becoming increasingly popular, there are still a few grey areas to navigate. Here are some general tips and etiquette to get the most out of your hosting/rental experience.
Being the Host With the Most
Even if you are just renting out your space and are unable (or unwilling) to spend time with travelers, in most cases you (or a designated representative) are required as the point-person to greet your guests, give them keys, and orient them to the place.
From there its up to you to work out with the guests how hands-on your relationship will be during their stay. If you are renting out a room and sharing common space with your guests, it's good to set the stage right away, so there are no problems or misplaced expectations.
There is no obligation to play host to travelers, but many owners enjoy the cultural exchange and ability to provide an enriched travel experience.
You're responsible for providing a clean, presentable space, and cleaning up after guests leave. Some sites allow you to offer cleaning services (you can usually specify the terms) as an additional service for which you can charge.
Legal and Tax Implications
In most places, income received from short-term rentals is taxable, but you will be responsible for paying those taxes (the services above don't withhold tax). Consult your accountant to get the scoop, and find out what expenses you can use as deductions to reduce or eliminate the tax liability.
I'd also recommend setting aside a percentage of rental income received as you receive it to cover any anticipated tax bite.
Also, if you don't own the place you're renting out, be sure to check with your landlord to see if they approve of sublets.
Some of the sites listed above allow owners to use a security deposit process (either in the form of cash or a credit card authorization). However, they're hands-off when it comes to collecting/holding and reimbursing the deposit — that's your domain.
Some of the sites offer insurance (either for an additional fee or included in the agreement), but it's often specific to certain countries due to various regulations.
Also check your home insurance policy to see if there is coverage for short-term (paying) guests.
Make Even More Money Serving as a Tour Guide
If you like the idea of making a little extra money and meeting people from all over the world, you might want to show off your backyard and make even more extra money as a tour guide!
Do any Wise Bread readers have experience using any of the above short-term rental services — either as a traveler or host/owner? Please let us know what it was like in the comments!