Last week we covered some of the crucial basics—being sure your city, village or building permits you to host paying guests; finding out if you have adequate insurance coverage; and deciding what to charge per night, week or month. This week we continue with more about getting into this part of the sharing economy. Our focus points include: the niceties to have on hand such as fresh linens and towels, taking good photos of your home’s exterior and rooms to post to attract guests, filling out a questionnaire about your home in the same way you might fill out a statement about yourself for online dating, and deciding on your house rules—no red wine or pets, for example. It’s your castle, and you’ve got the keys. Read on for more:
1. Consider some additional niceties of good hosting. Is there a full-length mirror for guests’ use, some good books and magazines to read, a welcome bottle of wine or fresh bagels, milk and juice for their enjoyment? Is everything super clean? Did you leave a typed list of area sights, restaurants, and amenities such as a library, bookstore, movie theater? If you want to be really helpful, list names of providers such as your favorite hairdresser, doctor, pharmacy that are close by.
2. Decide house rules. It’s your castle. No red wine drinking except at the dining room table or on the porch, no kids under the age of 10, no pets at all, no parties and no loud noises. In other words, they can’t invite their 50 best friends and hire a jazz band to play. Also, determine when you want guests to arrive and leave—come by noon and leave by 1 p.m. on the designated days. Share whether you insist doors be locked every time they enter and exit. Write up your rules and post them or send them via email in advance to the guests coming so they can plan accordingly.
3. Take photos of the exterior and all the rooms inside to attract guests. Be sure photos are high-res. Fill out the questionnaire of the company you’re using to rent out your home, citing your home’s best features, and then add what’s nice about where you live—a block from a subway stop or steps from the town’s coffee shop where everyone stops by each morning. Add a catchy heading such as “Come visit our version of paradise.”
4. Carefully read the requests of those who want to come. Decide if you want to host them in your home. You don’t want to discriminate—it’s against the law, but you also have some say. If you don’t want to have a group of college kids whom you feel won’t be respectful of your digs, you can decline. But know that you never really know until guests come. And those twentysomethings may be better behaved than a group of sixtysomethings. Deciding can be more art and gut instinct than science. If too many want to come—eight when you only can sleep four, decline politely and explain you limit the number of guests per night. Be reasonable since too many “nos” can hurt your ratings.
5. Respond quickly when guests make a request. It, too, factors into your rating. After guests come, be sure to rate them but know that they get to rate you since it’s the sharing economy! Also know that the more good or great reviews you get the better you’ll fare in getting more guests.
6. Pack away your ego. Some won’t like your home or location—not enough closets, too much pollen outdoors in your area or a too-crowded refrigerator, but then again some may swoon! But don’t quit your day job even though some do and buy up a second or third property to rent or even a small apartment building. In the end, remember you’re not out to make new best friends but earn some—or a lot—of extra income. And you should.
7. Be a good neighbor. Everyone’s now part of the sharing economy, even if they don’t want to share their own home. It’s kind to let your neighbors know that strangers will be renting, if you live in a single-family or town-home neighborhood. If you’re in a multifamily building that permits rentals and you’re going to have a frequent stream of paying guests show up, let these neighbors know, too. And remind your guests to be respectful of your neighbors by keeping their noise down, not hosting parties, bringing a jazz band into the backyard, and certainly not letting any trash that might pile up.
Next up: Part 3 of 3 — “So You Want to Rent Out Your Home: Here’s How to Present Your Home to Welcome Guests”