Whether you own or rent an apartment, there's a question I get asked often: can you Airbnb an apartment?
For many apartment owners, Airbnb can be an attractive option to earn extra side income. Some hosts can make around $4,000 per apartment on Airbnb. If you subtract $2,000 in rent and utilities, you're looking at $2,000 profit per month. But, this number can vary depending on your location, occupancy rate, and room quality.
It might seem super easy getting started on Airbnb, but it's not. Being a successful host takes more than listing your apartment on Airbnb. You have to prepare your apartment beforehand and turn it into a place where guests want to stay.
In this article, you'll learn the right way to turn your apartment into an Airbnb.
Can You Airbnb an Apartment?
And it doesn't matter whether you own, rent or neither.
Before throwing your apartment on Airbnb, you should do a little research to see if becoming a host is something worth doing. It'd be super unfortunate to invest a bunch of time and money into your apartment and have it not pay off.
Your number of potential guests is correlated with your apartment's location. An apartment in Manhattan is going to get more bookings, on average, than an apartment in Cooperstown. The more demand an area has for an Airbnb, the higher your earning potential.
But, this is not to say that you can't be successful if you're based in a small town.
Want to start making subletting on Airbnb?
Know the Rules
Local Laws and Regulations: Is Airbnb Legal?
It's on you to know what the local laws are and if you can legally host on Airbnb.
Some cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco only allow hosts to rent out their primary residences. These cities also place restrictions on the number of nights you can rent for. Other cities such as Dallas and Indianapolis have no such Airbnb regulations.
Depending on where you live, you may be required to apply for a license or pay a fee. It all depends on what your local regulations are.
You should take the time to understand them to prevent facing unwanted fines.
Of course, local laws are ever-changing, so be sure to stay updated on any potential changes.
Leases and Landlords: Can You Airbnb if You Rent?
If you rent your apartment, you're subject to your lease's stipulations. Because most leases prohibit subletting, you'll have to ask your landlord for permission. But, if you own your apartment, you won't have to worry about this.
While you could host on Airbnb without chatting with your landlord, it's not advisable. If your landlord finds out, you may be fined or even evicted.
A woman was renting her apartment on Airbnb to help pay off her husband's medical bills. She didn't have her landlord's consent and was later evicted and forced to pay a $185,000 fine.
These are serious consequences. You should always make sure you're following the rules when hosting on Airbnb.
Airbnb Host Requirements: What Do You Need to Do?
According to Airbnb, they require hosts to:
- Be responsive. You should reply to all booking inquiries and reservation requests within 24 hours. While this isn't a hard limit, you shouldn't take longer than a day to respond.
- Accept reservation requests. When you can, you should accept requests from guests. A host that continuously rejects requests may receive fewer bookings in the future.
- Avoid cancellations. While cancelling on a guest may be unavoidable, Airbnb takes cancellations very seriously. Guests rely on you not cancelling because their travel plans depend on staying in your Airbnb. If you have a history of cancellations, Airbnb will penalize you.
- Maintain a high overall rating. Quality is super important. This means having a great space accompanied by amazing service. If your host rating falls below a certain score, Airbnb may ban you from hosting. And if you have a high host rating, you may find yourself reaching Superhost status.
- Provide essential amenities. Airbnb doesn't require you to provide amenities such as toilet paper and soap. But, doing so is strongly recommended. Would you want to stay in an apartment that doesn't have a towel or pillow?
Airbnb provides hosts with a Progress section. You can see how well you're performing compared to the average host.
A common concern of hosts is safety. You're going to be inviting strangers into your apartment.
What if they completely trash your place?
The first step in protecting yourself is having a guest screening process in place. A lot of the Airbnb horror stories could've easily been prevented if hosts had properly screened their guests.
Ready to make quick cash on Airbnb?
Get Insurance if Necessary
It's important to know that homeowner's and landlord's insurance policies won't cover you if you rent on Airbnb. Fortunately, Airbnb has Host Protection Insurance. This protects you against liability claims of up to $1,000,000.
But, depending on your situation, this may not be enough. If that's the case, you may want to consider getting additional Airbnb liability insurance.
Stay on Airbnb
Airbnb charges hosts a 3% fee on all transactions. It might be tempting to cut out the middleman and get paid in cash or PayPal to avoid that fee. But, doing so will remove Airbnb's protection. You won't be insured in case anything happens. And, you won't be able to rely on Airbnb's customer support to help you out.
Prepare Yourself and Your Apartment
As an Airbnb host, you'll be competing with hundreds or even thousands of other hosts for the same guests. That's why it's crucial you have a property that stands out.
The easiest way to stand out is to style your Airbnb into something extraordinary. You can do this by making sure the property is clean and well-furnished.
A clean apartment has become a requirement for Airbnb hosts. Guests expect properties to be clean and in good shape.
In other words, a single piece of trash on the floor can ruin a guest's experience. They'll think:
If there's trash on the floor, what else is wrong with this apartment?
You don't want guests looking for what's wrong with your property. That's the most direct path to poor guest satisfaction and a negative review.
While Airbnb suggests best practices, it's advisable to go above and beyond if you want to succeed.
You should have:
- High-speed internet
- Shampoo and soap
- Toilet paper
- Coffee and/or tea
You could include:
- Breakfast and/or snacks
- Welcome gifts (e.g. a card or bottle of wine)
- Maps with local attractions highlighted
- Lists of things to do
- Streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu
- Keyless entry
There are endless possibilities for what you could add. Be creative. The best way to decide what to include is to ask yourself:
If I was a guest in my own apartment, what would I want? What's missing from here?
You never want a guest to show up and realize something's missing.
Imagine how you'd feel if it was raining and you didn't have an umbrella handy. Wouldn't it be incredible if your host provided one?
Here's a list of 63 amazing ideas you can try to make your apartment Airbnb ready.
Want a checklist you can easily follow to make sure your apartment is Airbnb ready?
At the end of the day, Airbnb is a business. You're going to have to dedicate time and money if you want to become successful. The easiest way to get into a business mindset is to develop an Airbnb business plan.
This will help you decide what kind of host you want to be. Do you only want to Airbnb your apartment when you're on vacation? Or do you have a spare room that you could list on Airbnb year-round?
List Your Apartment on Airbnb
Creating an Account
Before you can list your apartment on Airbnb, you'll need to create a free account. The first step of the sign up process is to fill out your profile. Try to be as descriptive as possible. You want to show guests that you're trustworthy.
Listing Your Apartment
The listing process is surprisingly simple. Airbnb will help you through the entire process, giving you tips on how much you should charge and how to manage your calendar.
One of the first things a guest sees is your Airbnb title. A listing with a catchy title will attract more users to click on your listing than if you had a boring title.
You want to be as descriptive and informative as possible without overwhelming guests.
Once guests click on your listing, they'll see your listing description and photos. The listing description is crucial in convincing guests to book your apartment. This section should be easy to skim and contain relevant, specific information.
The goal here is to not only describe what your apartment has but also what it'd feel like to live in your apartment.
It's important to be upfront and honest here. If your apartment has frequent issues with hot water, mention it in your description. This helps you by filtering out the guests who care about that problem.
A guest who reads that and books is going to care a lot less when the issue pops up than a guest who didn't know it was a problem. After all, it's better to meet guest expectations and get a positive review than it is to get an additional booking but a negative review.
One of the most important parts of your listing is the Airbnb photo section. If you have bad photos, you're not going to get any bookings.
While most hosts use these photos to showcase their apartment space, that's not the best way to use the photo section.
Successful hosts use these photos to paint a picture of the guest experience. For instance, if you have an outdoor pool, you could just take a photo of it. But, wouldn't it be more attractive to show the pool with floats or a thermometer in it? The floats show that you have pool accessories guests could use. The thermometer shows guests how cool and refreshing the pool is.
Be a Good Host
Having a quality apartment isn't enough anymore. You need to have an amazing property with top-notch service.
The guests of today care more about having a unique experience than just having a place to stay. Hosts can no longer rely on the list-and-wait approach.
You're going to have to invest resources into creating an outstanding guest experience.
One aspect of being a good host is being easy-to-reach. Guests should be able to get in touch with you at a moment's notice, especially if there's a problem. If you're out-of-town, it may be helpful to have an emergency contact who lives nearby. An unreachable host comes off as unprofessional and very frustrating.
Turning your apartment into an Airbnb can be a pretty great way to generate some extra side income. But, make sure you do your research beforehand to see if it's something you can see yourself doing.
Ready to make quick cash on Airbnb?