What you need to know to be an Airbnb host or guest
AIRBNB has revolutionised travel for many – but for Tim McIntyre, using the home rental site has also involved unclogging somebody else’s bathroom drain. These are his top tips.
I HAVE been using Airbnb as both host and guest for three years, so if you are thinking of getting involved ahead of the peak holiday season, here are the lessons I have learnt.
As a guest
I first used Airbnb when travelling to the USA in 2014.
We found an apartment in the east village of Manhattan for $170 a night, which was around a third the price of any decent hotels, so we jumped at it. We also secured a discounted townhouse in Washington DC’s Georgetown. Both places had their shortcomings, but were fantastic for what we paid. Since then we have stayed in Airbnb properties in Mexico, Denmark and even Lake Como.
As a guest, you should adjust your expectations. Staying in someone’s private home is not the same as a hotel. There will be less space and the obvious presence of other people – pictures on the wall, food in the fridge and personalised Netflix settings.
Hosts must be transparent, so a listing often says “not much space”, or “very lived in”. If you see that and go ahead with the booking, you can’t turn around and complain when it’s not like the last five-star hotel you stayed in. In Copenhagen I had to unclog the drain of the shower on the first day after it began flooding, a horrendous, dry-retching experience … but the price was right.
When it comes time to review the host, be reasonable. Think about whether they lived up to their own promises and whether it’s really necessary to burn them on a public forum for potential future guests to see. We stayed quiet on the clogged drain, as well as keys not working properly, bicycles advertised as part of the deal ending up being rusted with flat tyres and other things. We figured it was karma.
As a host
Karma doesn’t always come through, as evidenced by complaints we’ve received. One guy bought his family of four into our small two-bedroom unit and complained the shower ran out of hot water. He also moaned his sons weren’t comfortable on our fold-out … even though we warned him before booking it was not suitable for two teen boys. Our pillows not being fluffy enough was another bit of feedback.
Then there are the party types. We once came home to find a container of cigarette butts and other trash at our front door with a note reading: “clean up your filth”. Our young guests had hosted a party, making a whole lot of noise and throwing rubbish off our balcony, to the dismay of our innocent neighbours below. From there, we learned to accept mainly young parents and older couples as guests.
Still, most guests have been great. People tend to treat the place with more respect because they know it’s someone’s home.
We don’t rent ours out very often. Usually we book guests in when we are on holidays ourselves and that is where the financial benefit really comes in. We were once away for a month and had guests in our place for two weeks of that time. The money took care of our international flights, which made the holiday even more enjoyable and there were beers left in the fridge, which suited me fine.
Another benefit is that Airbnb will come and take professional photos of your place for free to use on the website listing.
So the money side can be great, but remember any income you earn must be declared at tax time, or you risk hefty fines. Talk to an accountant, because you may be able to claim expenses on parts of the property depending on your situation.
By Tim McIntyre Courtesy News.com.au