If you're going out of town for a few days or planning an extended trip, you can make some extra cash by renting out your house or apartment while you're away. Airbnb hosts more than seven million properties around the world and in every major city. With the growing popularity of home-sharing, more and more people are choosing the unique experience of staying amongst the locals over booking a hotel room. If you decide to host, take a look at these six ways you can protect yourself first.
1. Guard Your Internet Activity
Airbnb does minimal work to vet guests, but hosts do rate renters after their stay is completed. You have the ability to reject a renter if their reviews are bad or even if they have no reviews at all. Regardless, you need to take steps to protect yourself. All Airbnbs are required to provide WiFi access. You'll want some form of cyber protection or cloud monitoring to protect yourself from potential hackers or worse. For example, you might consider getting a VPN router. If a guest is using your Wifi connection to engage in something illegal, you don't want that traced back to your IP address. A VPN will protect you by creating anonymous IP addresses for all online activity.
2. Install a Security System
Installing a security system protects your home whether someone is there or not. Most security systems connect directly to your smartphone through an app and provide you with real-time information about the comings and goings of your property. You can store footage of guests arriving and leaving in case any mishaps happen and you need proof of their presence, and systems will automatically alert you and the authorities of a break-in. Keep in mind that you may have to disable the alarm while guests are there because you don't want to hand out your code.
3. Establish an Owner's Closet
Use a closet in the house to store supplies or valuables that you want to be hidden from guests. This could be cleaning equipment, electronics or heirlooms. Never leave cash or high-value items anywhere. Place a secure lock on the door and leave signage letting guests to know that it is inaccessible.
4. Make Sure You're Properly Insured
Airbnb provides a limited amount of insurance coverage for hosts. They will not cover the loss or damage of valuables like jewellery, money or important paperwork. If you don't want to take all your valuable documents with you, place them in a small safe or lockbox to keep in the owner's closet. If you want to play it safe and avoid purchasing additional insurance, place these valuables in a safe deposit box at your bank.
5. Have Someone Check the Property
Having someone you trust to check on the property regularly is a great way to simply keep an eye on things. You can ask a family member or friend to drive by occasionally and make sure nothing is amiss, or ask your cleaning service to check for and report damages when guests check out. Let your guests know that someone is nearby in case of an emergency and will be checking on things periodically. This might be a good deterrent for potential bad behaviour.
6. Install the Right Locks
Airbnb hosts typically use locks with passcodes that can be changed regularly. You are responsible for purchasing and installing locks for your property. It's standard to change the passcode to the last four digits of the guest's phone number to make it easier for them. Use these locks on every access point, and don't forget to put one on the owner's closet with a passcode that only you know.
As you make your way into the home-sharing world, keep in mind that most experiences on Airbnb are good. Guests tend to treat your home respectfully because they rely on your good review to ensure that they are able to rent on the platform again in the future. If you want to add a bit more security, collect a deposit at the start of the stay to cover potential damages.