Homeowners willing to rent their homes to vacationers are discovering a lucrative revenue stream. Just ask the million-plus homeowners across the globe who have signed on with online rental marketplaces Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO and others to market their properties.
The draw? You earn extra money without much legwork--your listing gets exposure to millions of travelers worldwide every month--and the traveler gains access to unique accommodations at far cheaper prices than hotels—in fact, sometimes up to 50 percent. But there are a couple of things you need to know before jumping in.
First and foremost, do your research. Each municipality has their own rules regarding short-term home rentals, and these online accommodation marketplaces refrain from any responsibility. So check out the leasing requirements in your area, and by all means seek advice from your tax accountant. Unlike hotels, which are zoned as commercial properties, vacation rentals aren't subject to bed taxes, but the IRS claims that if you rent out your home for more than a 14-day span, you are considered a landlord and are required to report your income. And more rules may be put in effect down the road, as the hotel industry continues its battle to fight these disruptors.
For many, however, short-term rentals have brought a reliable source of income and can be immensely profitable for the rule-conscious renter. If that's you, Brent Bellm, COO of HomeAway.com,recommends sprucing up your place and providing a little luxury to make your property stand out, such as including cable and Wi-Fi, free parking, and an extra-clean space, so your guests will long remember the great stay and book your place again the next time around.