What is the most common question I get asked about renting my place on Airbnb?

“Oh aren’t you scared that people are going to steal your stuff?!?”

(Hint: The answer is no, but please do read on anyway.)  Here are the top 5 questions/comments about the risks of renting on Airbnb and my (sometimes smart ass) responses to them.

1.  ”Oh aren’t you scared that people are going to steal your stuff?!?”

The short answer: no.  But let’s examine this a bit closer.  I won’t get into a long discussion about the intrinsic value of “stuff”.  Yes, we all have possessions in our homes that we value and we wouldn’t want any harm to come to them.  Everyone’s apartment is different.  Some people have valuable antique jewelry, others have stashes of cash under their mattress or a vintage record collection worth thousands.  Personally, I don’t have any of these things.  I do have a few valuable pieces of technology (TV, computer, etc.) that would most definitely be noticed if stolen.

While you may never be 100% sure that people aren’t going to steal from you, the chances are slim.  There has been no lack of exposure to "Airbnb Horror Stories" but these are simply the exception, not the rule.  Airbnb has gone as far as to declare a $1 Million host guarantee to give renters that extra peace of mind.  If I rent my apartment to Airbnb member “Joe F. Stealsalot” and my TV is there before I leave, and then it’s not there upon my return, Joe has some splaining to do.  But the point is, I have all his information and he’d be a darn fool to commit a crime in that scenario.

2.  ”Gross, I don’t want some stranger sleeping in my bed!”

Hey, didn’t you read the last question?  He isn’t a stranger, his name is Joe and he probably smells better than you anyway.  No, in all seriousness, just wash your sheets and you’ll be fine.  You can even have a completely separate set of linens and towels that are only for guests to use.  In this case you will never have to worry about any germs, cooties, or bed bugs coming in contact with you.  OK, bed bugs are a real thing, but I’ll take my chances.

3.  ”My roommate and/or landlord would never allow such a thing”

Let’s start with the roommate.  Totally a personal decision if you’re renting a room in shared living space.  If your roommates aren’t cool with it you obviously shouldn’t do it.  But, if you can convince them that they’ll pocket some extra money and meet some interesting folks, maybe you can get them to agree.

Landlords are obviously a much stickier wicket.  I won’t get into the terms of the lease and all of the fine print that applies to each city.  Undoubtedly this is a situation where the jury is still out on how much power people have to rent out their spaces if they are not the full-time owner of the property.  This is a concern that each city will have to address on a case by case basis, with New York and San Francisco leading the way.  Do be sure to check your local laws and personal living situation of course before using the service.

4. “Would anyone actually want to rent my crappy place?”

The answer is almost always yes.  That’s the beauty of this service and the sharing economy in general, it serves a niche.  People have very unique wants and needs, and it’s sometimes surprising to see how they get fulfilled.  There are so many reasons why a person travels to a given location, and lots of factors that go into them deciding on a place.  What might not seem so special to you could be the determining factor in another person’s stay.  The key is to highlight only one or two important features of your place that will resonate with a certain niche of traveler.  But we’ll talk more about that in a later post.

5.  ”I don’t travel enough to really make any money from it”

This ties back to my last post about Getting Paid To Go On Vacation.  The possibilities are endless once you have your place up for rent.  Maybe you only travel one week per year, but that’s still money on the table that you could bring in!  And there is a good chance that you will be more motivated to travel knowing that there could be a payday involved.  Before posting my place, I had no idea what the response would be or how much I could charge for it.  It takes some time to get a grasp on the market and how much your place is work, but it will happen.  The point is that you really don’t know about the earning potential until you give it a try for yourself and see how the market develops.  Just take action and make it happen, ask questions later.  


Taking Risks

Taking Risks
Credit: Photo credit: fraying / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA