Career & Resources

Renting your Home Online: One Homeowner’s Experience

A few weekends ago my family and I met in Birmingham, AL for a few days. It’s the perfect meeting place halfway between Memphis and Pensacola. I was especially excited to pick out our AirBnb house.  I chose the “Cozy House on the Bluff”, a house described to be located in Bluff Park, atop a more mountainous area, perfect for six people, and not far from a popular mall with lots of shopping and restaurants. The weather was giving us a spring tease and the picture of a porch overlooking a large-sized backyard caught my attention and I knew I had to scoop it off the market for our fun weekend away.

We had a chance to enjoy the yard before we left.

We had a convenient check-in and once we were all settled, and noticed the especially well-kept cabinets and organized drawers, we couldn’t help but wonder more about the rental process for someone who resides in home when it’s not rented. Erica, owner of the “Cozy House on the Bluff” and native of Birmingham, AL, was kind enough to share her experience with me.

Q: What made you decide to start renting your house through AirBnb?

I try to travel frequently and often use AirBnb, Inc. myself, so I decided to start hosting to help me save for an upcoming trip to Thailand. Once I got into it, I realized I’d have the money saved in no time & could also start planning some home renovations.

Q: How long have you been renting out your home?

Not long at all! I’ve been hosting since December 2016.

Q: How often do you rent your home?

When I started to host I figured I would wait to see if it was even worth doing. Once I got the first booking they just kept coming in! Who knew a Birmingham suburb would be so popular? I rent at least every other week, but lately it’s been almost every weekend. I even have some week-long bookings coming up.

My son enjoying the hammock in the backyard.

Q: Where do you go when your place is rented out?

One of the reasons I knew I would be able to host is because I have several homing options when I have guests. I usually stay a few minutes away with family, and in some instances I have been out of town myself.

Q: What do your friends and family think about you renting out your home?

Most people I talk to think it’s a great idea. My brother-in-law is even considering renting out a room in his house to enjoy a little extra income.

Q: What are some of the strangest things people have left after their stay?

Luckily, no one has left anything strange. All I have come across so far are socks and food left in the fridge.

Q: What are some of the strangest questions people have asked or requests people have made?

I haven’t had any super strange requests, yet. Most of my guests have come to the area to see family. I do have a pending request from someone to barter services. The proposal came from photographers and they are offering pictures in exchange for two nights- I’m still undecided!

Erica’s cozy porch

Q: Have you met any interesting people through this experience? Have you ever kept in touch with any of them?

I’ve had all kinds of different guests, everyone has been very respectful, but no one I’ve kept in touch with.

Q: Are there any hidden perks to renting through AirBnb (besides the rental money) that someone may not have considered?

There are some tax write offs available (mostly items you buy for guests). I’ve had a few guests leave me gifts too!

Q: What’s the thing that worried you (or still worries you) the most about renting out your home?

There are lots of things that make me a little nervous to rent out my house. For starters, I live in a family-friendly neighborhood, so I’m always worried that guests will not be respectful of the neighborhood. My neighbors are aware that I rent out my house, so at least I’ll know if something happens. I also get worried that I’ll come home and my house will be ruined, thank god for insurance! It does bother me a bit that people sleep in my bed and I thought that might be a deal breaker, but I’ve been ok so far! It helps that I use different linens and comforters than those I provide for my guests.

My son snuggled up like a bug in the “Cozy House on the Bluff” bed.

Q: What surprised you the most about renting your home through AirBnb that you may not have known or thought about before you started?

I was surprised how easy it is. AirBnb handles all the financial components & really all the host does is accept inquiries and get the house ready. The biggest issue when I come home is doing laundry. I hate folding laundry and making beds!

Q: What you would tell someone that is interested in participating in AirBnb?

I would recommend double checking your insurance policy. I had to add a policy for short-term rentals so that guests would be covered. Also, be sure to look into tax information for your state. Alabama already takes out occupancy taxes, so I don’t have to worry about that, but that’s not always the case. I would also tell them to leave their house the way they’d expect a rental to look. I want to go somewhere that is comfortable! And somewhere that has coffee, because I don’t want to go straight to the store when I travel.

My husband and I enjoying a little coffee on the front porch.

Erica has a dog and she encourages her guests to bring their furry friends with them by making her home dog-friendly with dog toys and a backyard a dog could dream about.

Thank you Erica! I want all the drawers in my home to be as neat and tidy as the ones at her place. 

Have you used AirBnb? Would you ever consider renting out your home? 

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