If you have a spare room or plan to spend some time traveling this summer, you may be tempted to list your home or apartment on a site like AirBnb or HomeAway. After all, New England is gorgeous this time of year, and who couldn’t use a bit of extra cash for spaces you aren’t currently using? But, before you post an ad, there are a few things you should know:
- You should eliminate any hazards before you put up your ad.
Have a board in your deck that keeps popping up? Step railing a little rickety? Correcting these before allowing renters can make your home safer and reduce your potential liability.
- Your renter’s insurance may not cover damages that occur while you are renting your place out.
Most policies do not cover commercial activities. AirBnb has a policy known as “Host Protection Insurance,” which will be your primary insurance when renting your home or apartment out. Contact your insurer to find out whether short-term rentals are an issue with your policy.
- These services’ screening processes are not perfect.
People tend to be nicer than normal when leaving reviews for people who have paid to rent their homes. Scan reviews thoroughly for any complaints and also check the potential renter’s connected social media accounts. Googling their name and their home state can also help you with screening.
- Any valuables should go in a locked and private room.
If you put jewelry, electronics and other items in a bedroom or closet and lock it, you reduce the chances of a theft during your guests’ stay. If you don’t have a place in your home that feels safe, consider leaving items with a neighbor instead. You should also have someone pick up your mail to ensure that nothing goes missing.
- Be clear in your rules about what is and is not allowed.
Home rental sites allow you to set up common sense rules in your profile. It may be advisable to ban smoking, parties and pets to reduce potential for damage to your home. You can also set up security deposit requirements to cover any damage that may occur. Be sure to report any violations to protect future hosts.
As with any endeavor to make extra cash, due diligence is key. By being selective with renters and doing what you can to secure your property in advance, you can reduce the chance of problems and allow others to enjoy your New England home at the same time.