To AirBnB or not to AirBnB?

I’ve heard the arguments against AirBnB – that they’re not reinvesting in the communities where they operate, that they’re pulling the rental market apart.

That said, our family wants to do some travel this summer… and if I’m not going to be in my house, why not offset the cost of my trips around BC? And provide a fun and funky place for another family to stay?

This isn’t a decision to be made lightly. Based on my research, I’m going to be a host I need to look out for:

Theft. Yes AirBnB offers funds to hosts whose items are lost or damaged. However, theft of personal items like artwork or other irrecplaceables is a concern.

Identity Theft. In most homes there is enough of a papertrail for an ID thief to put together a profile and go from there.

Noise and Nuisance. My neighbours might not appreciate it if I have noisy or naughty guests.

Voiding my Insurance. Before I move forward, it’s highly likely I’ll have to switch to a company like Square One who specialize in homeowners with short-term rentals.

So if I’m going to move forward, it’s not a matter of just vacating my house. I’m compiling a little ‘home protection’ checklist.

Here goes:

  1. Read, and re-read any insurance policies.
  2. Have someone pick up my mail.
  3. Put all valuables (irreplaceable items) in a storage locker.
  4. Take photos of the house and items of value being left for guest use (e.g. the TV).
  5. Remove all medications and other personal items.
  6. Find care for my dog.

Plus, as a hospitality professional, I’ll need to get my home guest ready. Before anyone stays I would need to:

  1. Remake all beds with new, clean, and segregated ‘guest bedding’.
  2. Do the same with all bathroom linens.
  3. Deep clean the house.
  4. Remove all perishable food from the fridge and kitchen cupboards and organize these with clear instructions for use.
  5. De-clutter items like children’s toys.
  6. Make items like a first aid kit and fresh batteries for smoke detectors and the thermostat readily available.
  7. Provide operational instructions for the TV and other electronics.
  8. Make a list of other pertinent info (e.g. how to use the washer and dryer).
  9. Create a welcome package with this info, local maps and other relevant data.
  10. Explore other welcome items such as a bottle of local wine or some snacks.

Most of this would take a lot of work to establish but I’m sure I could develop some efficiencies and systems.

In the meantime, how am I going to do my part for tourism in Vancouver? I know Tourism Vancouver is touting the extension of the hotel tax to AirBnB operators, and I’m all for it … but how will this be collected?

Alright, fellow tourism nerds. How is this sounding? Should we go for it? Is it worth it? Stay tuned to find out what I decide …

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