The Age of Sharing is here, and it’s a phenomenon that’s expected to grow from $15 billion in 2014 to $335 billion by 2025, with services such as home-sharing and maintenance platforms being a big part of that equation. Many homeowners have seen big economic benefits over the years from home-sharing platforms like Airbnb, but if you’re thinking about jumping in to get a piece of that pie, there are a few things you should consider first.
Know Your Regulations
Not all cities see the home-sharing phenomenon as a win-win. Many municipalities are passing new regulations that are often designed to curb its growth. Before signing up for a service like Airbnb, you should find out a few things. Does your city have a framework for short-term rentals? Are there any legal restrictions? How expensive is licensing?
This is critically important, because ignoring licensing regulations can be very costly. In Portland, Oregon for example, the city implemented fines of $1,000-$5,000 per violation for home-sharing operators. In 2017, it collected over $70,000 in fines and fees from a single operator who was found to be in violation of the city’s regulations.
Know Where You Live
Cities are made up of distinct neighborhoods, and people are proud of where they live, so, you'll want to think carefully about the impact of a short-term rental on your neighbors before moving forward with your plans. Will the locals have to compete with guests for on-street parking? Will they feel less secure with strangers coming in and out?
You don't need to get permission before renting rooms, but as a courtesy, you'll want to let anyone impacted by your decision in on your plans. You'll also want to establish clear house rules and expectations, especially about noise or late-night outdoor socializing, for your guests.
Know Your Coverage
You’ll hear horror stories in the news regularly about a home-sharing rental gone bad. In London, a short-term renter threw a party for 100 people, unbeknownst to the homeowner, during which floorboards were ripped and a television pulled off a wall. In another widely-reported example, a short-term rental unit was used as a pop-up brothel. Stories about experiences as bad as these are extremely rare; however, they serve to remind us about the financial and legal risks for hosts who allow strangers into their home. It's important to make sure you have the appropriate coverage if you don't already have it.
Home-sharing companies such as Airbnb or HomeAway offer basic insurance coverage, but what they offer may not be enough, or could be severely limited by exclusions. Your best option is to ask your insurance provider about the nature of the protection, liability coverage and deductible. For example, if you're renting out rooms at your primary residence, short-term, on a regular basis, it may be considered a home-based business, and you could be denied coverage.
By Tim Harris