Whether you are doing it to get some money off the free room in your home, your entire house while on holiday, or a range of properties you own, Airbnb is a great business if done right. You also need to remember that the business of letting strangers into your home comes with a long range of risks and if you are to succeed, you need to have lots of personal discipline and create some rules around your property. There has been a string of Airbnb horror stories in recent years and most of them involve hosts sustaining losses to their property or losing their homes altogether. To avoid becoming the next Airbnb horror story, here are some tips to help you become a good and successful host.
Give as much detail of the property as possible
Most complaints that result into refunds by guests stem from guests that were misinformed about the property when booking. Something as simple as the sound of traffic, a room that doesn’t face the sunrise, a toilet that requires a few extra swings to flush or even a creaking bed could result in claims for a refund. You should therefore be forthright when listing your property and say everything you can in the listing (both the good and the bad).
Make sure you share clear photos of the property before a check-in
Airbnb has a very short window for filing claims for damages after a guest checks out. It is therefore important to have as much detail of the house before the guest comes in as possible. That way, if anything is damaged, you only need to send in the comparisons and get your refund processed. Taking images of the property right before a guest checks in will also work in your defence if the guest claims a refund against you. Your photos should include the surroundings of the property and not just the interior.
Furnish your property but don’t overpay for miscellaneous amenities
You have to attract clients and the rate you charge for your property will depend on how well the property is furnished and the quality of amenities you provide. Don’t be short-handed on the basics such as entertainment, WIFI, furniture and modern kitchen fixtures. You don’t have to break the bank to furnish your apartment though. For example, you don’t need the most expensive toilet rolls, soap and shampoo. Remember, you are not running a hotel business. It is just a regular homestay and you can only charge so much to remain competitive.
Never agree to go off platform
This never ends well because if the guest damages anything or refuses to pay, you really have no recourse. That is why Airbnb prohibits hosts from offering extensions for cash payments. Even if you are dealing with a repeat guest, you should be cautious about taking things off Airbnb because people tend to take advantage when they are less likely to face any consequences. With the platform, you have up to $1 million insurance and, although you have to share the income, you will be sure to have your property in good shape when the guests leave and that is good for the long term.
Make sure you or a property manager is near the property
As we said earlier, the window for filing for claims is short which means you need to document any damages as soon as possible. In April 2022, an Airbnb host in Pittsburgh took advantage of the owner being away to host a big party that resulted in a mass shooting and the platform condemned the owner for not installing security measures. You are still the custodian of your property even after renting it out which is why you need to be close enough to identify and mitigate anything that can go wrong. Most guests will also be on their best behaviour when they know that you or your manager is close by.
Take a good look at a potential guest’s rating
You won’t be able to do a full background check of your guest, so the ratings they have from previous hosts will be your best guide. If there is no rating available, then you shouldn’t be afraid of asking the hard questions when communicating with the guest. Make sure that only the number of guests mentioned in the booking enter your property and you need to verify their identity when they arrive. Most Airbnb guests turned squatters don’t use their real names in their profiles which is why you should be careful with people that seem sneaky.
Write and display a set of rules for your property
If you don’t allow smoking in your property, include it in the rules (and you shouldn’t allow it because smoking led to the burning down of a home in Sanoma county recently). If you don’t want foo in the bedroom or shoes on your carpet, make sure you tell your guests in writing. If you have rules clearly served and displayed to your guests, it helps keep them in check and most importantly, claim refunds if damage comes by as a result of them breaking the rules.
Don’t be a softy about complaints
Being an Airbnb host means you are a landlord and you are also in business. The one thing you should be for disappointments. There have been lots of cases of guests taking advantage of the Airbnb rules to launch unfounded complaints and seek a refund. If a guest starts claiming that your roof is leaking or that you have mould in your bedroom, make sure you go in and photograph evidence as the lack of evidence on your behalf will lose you any such claims. That way, you won’t lose money after offering a perfectly good service.
Make sure your property insurance is up to date
When you list your home on Airbnb, that immediately makes you and renter and that attracts extra premiums on home insurance. You have to make sure you understand what your policy says about renting of your property and make sure you are up to date with your premiums. The Airbnb insurance is not as easy to claim as you may think and if an Airbnb guest burns your home down, you home insurance may only offer a partial refund.
Keep it formal
The best way to stay afloat in business is to keep interactions formal. While it is alright to compliment your guest with a bottle of wine or other compliments when they are paying you big, you also need to remember that they are customers and they need to stay that way. You should document all communications you have with the guest and make sure that every interaction with them is within the guidelines of the platform.
Do you have any tips for people thinking of becoming an Airbnb Host? Do you have horror stories of your own? If you do why not let us know about them in the comments below.