Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts for AirBNB Short-Stay Landlords

Each business model has its own unique mode of operation, expected level of service, and acceptable rate of return.

You’ll notice, however, that only short-stay landlords have profit as a goal.

So, if you’re a home sharer or vacation rental provider, you can stop reading here. What follows is not intended for you (although you might find it interesting — so keep reading if you please).

If you’re a landlord considering a short-stay business, you should follow these “do’s” and “don’ts” to avoid costly mistakes and become more profitable than a typical landlord.

The following is for rental owners that choose to provide short-stay housing instead of traditional long-term rentals. It is intended for those who want to maximize the yield on both their time and money.


#1. Comply with local ordinances and pay your lodging taxes — if any.

Short-stay rentals have gone mainstream. Just like with eBay and Amazon, you’re not going to be able to avoid taxes. More and more cities (sometimes states) are requiring lodging taxes for stays of 30 days or less. Run a legitimate operation. Read your city ordinances carefully. And read the exceptions three or four times — opportunities hide in the exceptions. (HINT: Monthly stays and longer are typically excluded from short-term rental ordinances).

#2. Prioritize your start up expenditures.

Spend your first investment dollars on installing items that’ll help your guests feel secure. Start with upgrading your locks, bed bug proofing your beds, removing any and all odors, etc. Spend your last dollars on Martha Stewart-ing; decorating comes last.
(Buzz kill — right? It’s just that spending your budget in this order will reduce your chance of wipeout.)

#3. Compete with extended stay hotels.

Consider the world of “long-shorts,” where managers and cleaning costs don’t eat up your profit. Compete for travelers who would otherwise opt for extended stay hotels. These folks want more privacy and homey-ness than a hotel can offer. If you’re near a hospital, university, or airport, you may have a golden ticket.

#4. List your offering on multiple sites.

Start on one platform and add others over time. Consider listing with the big three commission-based sites: Airbnb, HomeAway, and TripAdvisor. Then sync the calendars so you only get inquires for available dates. It’s smart to cast a wide net to increase your exposure and minimize your vacancies. Don’t limit your platforms until you’ve had a chance to determine the pros and cons for yourself.

#5. Go after employer-sponsored business travelers.

There’s a HUGE difference between travelers who pay out of pocket and those who get reimbursed by their employers. Many traveling consultants (like myself) get a stipend to cover housing expenses. Often, the allowance is based on Government Services Administration guidelines. So be mindful not to disqualify yourself by spiking your rates. From a net income perspective, these guests just might be the most lucrative long-term and frequently repeating clients you can find.


#1. Don’t compete with the home sharers on one and two-night stays.

Fast turns, what I call “short-shorts”, are games that home sharers can win. Cleaning and providing day-to-day management are their jobs.

To make any money with short-shorts, you would need to pass along your full cost of cleaning. And large cleaning fees are a major turn off to price savvy guests. That’s why you really need to set a minimum stay that pencils — and that might be four nights or more.

#2. Don’t rely on landlord best practices — many don’t apply.

If you are a seasoned landlord, you will need to change out your mental framework to be a good short-stay provider. For example:
— Fair housing laws aren’t valid in this peer-to-peer economy. You look at people’s peer reviews for quick go/no-go decisions.
— Credit checks aren’t relevant since money is collected in advance.
— Whereas having a lot of landlording experience is useful, don’t assume it’s sufficient in the short-stay world.

#3. Don’t try to earn more than 5 stars.

Once you get going, you can add some razzle dazzle. But if you’re a gadget person, stifle yourself. Don’t buy whiz bang UNLESS you can estimate a reasonable break-even date. Will that gadget really help you get more bookings at higher rates and with better reviews? Hmmm… buying a holographic TV is cool, but it won’t help you get a 10-star review when only 5 stars are possible.

#4. Don’t lose track of the climbing baseline.

Rents are escalating. It’s possible your local market rents could be higher at the end of the year than they were at the beginning. Rents can swing the other way too, so you have to check local conditions a few times a year. If the baseline exceeds your short-stay income, then sell off your furnishings and switch back to traditional landlording.

There is no shame in pivoting. After all, you’re in the short-stay business to net more income than a traditional landlord — not less.

#5. Don’t be a jerk.

Your reviews are everything in this peer-to-peer economy. Your guests will, in general, be laid back folks who want to do business directly with other nice people. So be fair, but if you need to “get someone told,” then get the resolution center involved. Airbnb has intermediaries to help you navigate crucial conversations with their referred guests. So, when needed, let Airbnb facilitate.

But whatever the case, be generous.

Your reviews equate to your wealth in the collaborative economy.

The more good reviews you have, the more others are willing to do business with you. So keep your future opportunities in mind — keep your cool.

***The Big Takeaway***

Although there are three categories of short-stay rentals, only one of them has a profitability threshold.

Following these do’s and don’ts will give you a fast track towards netting more than a traditional landlord would.

These principles are training wheels to keep you from bruising losses. Keep them on until your balance sheet shows you’re proficient. Then go on to create offerings that are nearly impossible for others to compete against. From that position, you’ll be able to maximize your asset’s cash flow.


#1.  IN-PERSON: Washington DC Main Monthly Meeting

TOPIC: “How to Create a Profitable Extended Stay AirBNB within 30 Days Using None of Your Own Money”
SPEAKER: Al Williamson

Thursday April 21st IN-PERSON
Hilton Garden Inn Tysons Corner
8301 Boone Blvd
Vienna, VA 22182
6pm to 9pm

Click here to RSVP

#2.  IN-PERSON: Full Day Training Event with Al Williamson

“How to Generate Passive AirBNB Income with or without owning rentals so you can retire in 2 years”

Saturday April 23rd IN-PERSON
Hilton Garden Inn Tysons Corner
8301 Boone Blvd
Vienna, VA 22182
9am to 4pm

Get your ticket now

#3.  IN-PERSON: Tampa Main Monthly Meeting

TOPIC: “How to Create a Profitable Extended Stay AirBNB within 30 Days Using None of Your Own Money”
SPEAKER: Al Williamson

Thursday April 28th IN-PERSON
Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore
700 North Westshore Blvd
Tampa, FL 33609
6pm to 9pm

Click here to RSVP

#4.  IN-PERSON: Sarasota Main Monthly Luncheon

TOPIC: “Supercharging your rentals with Extended-Stay AirBNB”
SPEAKER: Al Williamson

Friday April 29th IN-PERSON

Gecko’s Grill & Pub
Clark Road & Honore Ave
5585 Palmer Crossing Circle
Sarasota, FL 34233

12Noon to 2pm

Click here to RSVP

#5.  IN-PERSON: Full Day Training Event with Al Williamson

“How to Generate Passive AirBNB Income with or without owning rentals so you can retire in 2 years”

Saturday April 30th IN-PERSON
Courtyard by Marriott Sarasota/Lakewood Ranch
8305 Tourist Center Dr.
Sarasota, FL 34201
9am to 4pm

Get your ticket now

Tom Zeeb
Traction REIA
Washington DC | Tampa | Sarasota | Online

Traction REIA:
12+ Year Recipient of the National REIA “Honors of Merit”
and the “Award of Excellence”
For Best Real Estate Investor Association!

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