Airbnb and other short-term accommodation platforms have revolutionised the way we stay. For families or groups of friends, renting a house or apartment is a much cheaper and more convenient alternative to renting a cramped hotel room.

The digital economy has made it easier than ever to rent out unused properties, with there being several options for online rental opportunities. Airbnb is by far the most popular, providing an easy method for connecting with others around the globe who are looking for somewhere to sleep in your city.

So, where should you start?

1. Do your research

Before you put your home up on Airbnb or another short-term rental site, you need to know what you’re getting yourself into. It can be quite a bit of work, especially if you live in the property for some of the time and rent it out for other times. If it’s purely an investment property, there are also questions around whether you want to manage the rental yourself through sites such as Airbnb, Stayz and Gumtree, or whether you want to pay someone to do it all for you.

Deciding what kind of website is also a big thing when it comes to a listing. Jump online and see what each offer in terms of the guests they target, what protections are offered for insurance and payment guarantees, and see how much similar properties are being rented out for.

You also need to check with your local council about their rules covering short term rentals and, of course, the tax implications renting out a room or your whole property may have.

2. Be open to questions

Renting out your listing isn’t just about taking a few snazzy pictures, putting together an ad and hoping for the best. It’s also about being an open line of communication when potential guests have questions, and when actual guests have queries. It’s also essential to be open and communicate effectively in your advertisement. There’s no point promising what you can’t deliver. So be open, honest and never leave anything to chance. Even include things that count as ‘grey areas’, for example, if you have a laundry but it’s external to your building, mention it. Don’t leave your guests to find out the hard way.

Remember, while you have intimate knowledge of your property, the rest of the world doesn’t. So when describing your home to potential guests, look at it in a fresh and new light. If you were a guest looking to book your property, what would you want to know?

3. Be realistic

Be realistic when it comes to everything, from the time it takes to list your property (and manage it) right through to how much it’s worth. Overestimating the worth can actually backfire, with limited interest. It’s better to be competitive than greedy.

When it comes to time management, the money won’t start rolling in as soon as you place your advertisement. You’ll need to chat with potential guests about what they want and whether you can offer it. You’ll need to answer questions. The more friendly, straightforward and truthful you are, the better your chances of securing a listing and in turn the better your reviews will be. It also takes time to check guests in and out. For some hosts, check-in means being there to greet guests and show them around, especially if there are special instructions.

4. Act like a hotel

You may not be a hotel, but guests are still staying in your property and they still expect some sort of finesse and pampering. No, this doesn’t mean throw in a massage and bubble bath, but it does mean provide some amenities. Wifi is non-negotiable in this day and age. And it wouldn’t hurt to provide some bath wash, shampoo and conditioner and some fresh towels and linen.

You can even go one step further and provide specific amenities to your guests depending on the purpose of their trip. For example, if you have a business traveller or someone you know is in town for a special occasion, you can make sure your ironing board and iron are available for them.

Additionally, while you can’t act like the concierge or the front desk of a hotel i.e. ‘always on call’, you can provide a substantial list or a guidebook of activities and suggestions. Include a manual of your home, detailing how to work the appliances, what night the bins go out and what the Wifi password is. Also include the best public transport routes in your area, and a guide to the restaurants, cafes and parks nearby.

5. Play by the rules

When it comes to short term rentals, the key is this; you are not a hotel, you are a home. This means you have neighbours, rules and regulations that need to be abided by, and precious and expensive things to look after.

Make sure you’re taking care of everything, and we mean everything. Ensure you have the right insurances, not only to cover you and your contents but also to cover your guests should anything happen to them on your property.

Ensure your guests are quiet so as not to disturb your neighbours. Take a look at your neighbours and read the scene carefully when choosing between potential guests. If your street is filled with young families or elderly people, then perhaps backpackers are not your best bet. Remember, your guests will leave, but you need to maintain your relationships with those around you.

Finally, always check the rules that may apply to your property. These include tax rules, council rules and if you’re in a strata building, any by-laws that may apply.

Earning an income from your property with short term rentals is not merely a case of clicking ‘place ad’ and walking away. You need to carefully consider your options and carefully maintain your listing. But the rewards can be great!

About the Author

Marc Steen | Chief Operating Officer, Strata Data

With an MBA in Business and being the founder of one of BRW’s ‘Fastest 100 Growing Companies in Australia’ under his belt, Marc Steen knows growth-focused business. As the COO of the Terandi Group, Marc is passionate about development within body corporate management, focusing on the Victorian and South Australian sectors to deliver innovative and accessible strata services. With an entrepreneurial spirit and customer-focused mindset Marc is committed to leading successful ventures in business.

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