Retiree’s Guide to Hosting on Airbnb
According to Airbnb, the number of experiences hosted by people 60 years and older has grown by nearly 1,100 percent over the past year. In fact, the United States tops Airbnb’s list of countries with the most hosts in that age group.
Retiring (and aging as a whole) is sometimes associated with loneliness and withdrawal from social activities, but these Airbnb statistics prove that is far from the truth. Retirees actually comprise more than 50% of senior hosts on Airbnb.
Hosting home sharing experiences using websites like Airbnb and VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) is easier and safer than ever, and there are some great benefits to hosting while in retirement. In 2017, Airbnb senior hosts around the world earned over $2 billion, hosted over 13.5 million guest arrivals at their listings, and welcomed travelers from over 150 countries.
Hosts can choose to rent out their entire home or individual guest rooms. This makes hosting a great option for retirees – whether you’re looking to meet new people, rent out a vacation home that goes unused most of the year or make some extra cash while you’re having your own adventures.
Age is just a number
Retirement is one of the best times to take advantage of Airbnb and VRBO services. By hosting, you can make some extra cash on top of your fixed income while helping travelers make the most of their experiences. Condensing suggestion: Retirees can even fund their own vacation by using a travel reward cards alongside the money made from renting out their home.
Seniors claim the number one reason they host is for financial gain. Other reasons include staying socially connected, meeting new people and keeping active. Airbnb even explains that many senior hosts “now say that the social benefits have contributed to a renewed sense of purpose.”
The benefits of hosting are immeasurable, but how do you get started?
Becoming a home-sharing host
If you’re curious about how to become an Airbnb host or VRBO host, signing up is relatively simple. All you have to do is go through their online process for listing your home. You’ll answer questions about your home and why guests would like it, choose your availability, set house rules, list your rent prices and more.
The process is easy to navigate on both sites, and both offer a dedicated support team to help answer any questions, 24/7.
How much can I earn?
The price of a listing is 100% up to the host. Both Airbnb and VRBO have pricing tools that help first-time hosts determine the average listing prices of experiences similar to theirs. Furthermore, both services work on a commission-based system, meaning there is no up-front cost to setting up an account and listing your home on their sites.
Preparing your home
Both Airbnb and VRBO have expectations for hosts, though these expectations are mainly just common courtesy requests.
- If you become a host, you should be able to respond to questions or reservation requests within 24 hours.
- Provide accurate listing details.
- Try not to cancel guest reservations without reason.
- Treat guests staying with you with respect.
- Provide basic amenities to guests, including toilet paper, soap, linens, sheets, towels and pillows.
- Perform basic cleaning services and turnover (replace linens and clear out trash) between guests.
If you are unable to provide cleaning services yourself, you can always add a cleaning fee to your listing price that covers the cost of a professional cleaning service.
Costs to consider as a home sharing host
While it doesn’t cost anything to list a property, there are some associated costs with getting your home or rental property host-ready.
While reputable home sharing services hold their users to a high standard of behavior ( many offer liability insurance to cover theft or damage charges), you should still lock away important documents and expensive items. It’s also a good idea to get a lockbox installed for safe and easy check-in.
Homeowners’ Association (HOA) requirements
If your home or rental has an HOA agreement, there might be specific rules on minimum or maximum stay requirements, parking, number of guests allowed and more. There is also a possibility that you are unable to rent out your home, condo or apartment depending on these specific restrictions. HOAs are only permitted to have a certain number of units rented within a certain development. Always check with your HOA before you list a home on Airbnb.
If you are unable to rent out your home because of an HOA restriction, there is another option for hosting on Airbnb. You can sign up to host an Experience, which is where locals can host activities to help travelers make the most of their trips.
As discussed above, one of the host expectations of all reputable home sharing services is turnover and cleaning service between stays. If you’re able to clean, this is a relatively low cost to take into consideration. However, if there’s a reason why you are unable to provide these services yourself, you’ll need to make arrangements with a third-party cleaning or maid service.
Most guests are more than willing to pay a little extra if it means the space they’re renting is sparkling clean, so you should consider adding this expense to your listing price. If you’re up front with guests about why the cost of your rental is a little higher than others, most will be understanding and have no qualms about paying extra.
Tax implications for home share hosts
Renting property is considered part of your yearly income in the eyes of the IRS. Depending on the home sharing service you used to rent out your home, you might receive a Form 1099-K (Payment Card and Third Party Network Transactions) or an Earnings Summary that reports the gross amount of rent earned during the calendar year. You’ll need to include this in your 1040 tax form at the end of each year. For some renters, there are other tax implications to consider. H&R Block has a 2018 guide on how to report Airbnb hosting income on your taxes.
Retirees living off a fixed income will need to pay special attention to how much supplemental income hosting adds to their taxes, as well as what type of rental their home counts as.
If you aren’t performing any work on the property, or if you use a third-party service to clean and make repairs, you can report your home share income to the IRS as passive income on the Schedule E (Form 1040), Supplemental Income and Loss. Passive income isn’t included by Social Security to determine benefits.
However, if you are personally performing upkeep work on your property, your income is classified as self-employment. Income over certain thresholds can prevent you from qualifying for Social Security benefits.
Other tips for hosting on Airbnb
The happier renters are with their stay, the more likely they are to leave a positive review. The more positive reviews your property earns, the more travelers will justify paying a higher fee to stay at your property. That means you can maximize your potential earnings by helping your renters have the best possible stay.
Here are a few easy ways to take your rental listing over the top:
- Post great photos of your listing. A picture is worth a thousand words,and great photos of your home can be the difference between someone booking your rental or passing it over for someone else’s. Most smartphones can take great photos, but you can research tips on how to make your phone photos shine.
- Give guests a welcome basket. Having a seasonal basket filled with local goodies and tips for enjoying their stay can go a long way in helping guests feel welcomed.
- Cook dinner one night. If you are renting out a portion of your home instead of the entire thing, offer to cook dinner for your renters one night. They’ll feel more welcome, and it’s a great way to get to know who is staying with you.
- Provide at-home entertainment. Most travelers won’t spend every second of every day out and about. Leaving some of your favorite books, games or movies out for guests can help them unwind after a long day of exploring. You can also leave a scrapbook of your favorite adventures, which can help renters get to know their hosts.
Protecting yourself as a host
While the vast majority of the guests you’ll host will be absolutely amazing, you need to prepare for the possibility of having some not-so-fantastic renters. Airbnb, VRBO and other reputable home share services offer hosts protection, such as liability insurance, but there are other steps you can take to ensure your personal and financial safety as a host.
- Set house rules. Be upfront with guests about what they can and cannot do while they stay at your listing.
- Keep important documents locked away in a safe. If you don’t want guests to see certain documents or have access to certain things, it’s best to keep them locked away.
- Hold or forward your mail. If you’re going to be away while guests stay at your place, it’s a good idea to hold or forward your mail so that any important, private documents don’t fall into the wrong hands.
- Choose your guests wisely. Set up your account so that you can accept and decline each reservation. That way you can screen potential guests before they officially book your listing.
The bottom line
Hosting your home or an Experience on Airbnb and similar websites can be a great way for retirees to meet new people, stay socially connected with others and make a supplemental income. As long as you take the right precautions and do what you can to provide a relaxing and safe environment for your guests, you can make hundreds to thousands of dollars in passive income to help fund your next adventure or add a cushion to your savings.
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