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As the number of properties listed through short-term rental services like Airbnb and VRBO continues to grow, it’s natural for homeowners to wonder if they, too, can extract additional value from their home. Have an extra bedroom, guesthouse or vacation property that sits vacant most of the time? Want to rent out your condo a few weekends a year to make a bit of extra cash? No matter your specific circumstances, here are some important dos and don’ts.

Do…

Understand the time commitment
This includes answering questions for potential guests, perfecting your listing, outfitting your property for guests, helping your guests check in and out, and troubleshooting for them during their stay.

Consider your neighbours
Whether you’re living in a downtown condo building or a quiet, suburban area, your neighbours can kill your listing if you’re not careful. Be considerate when it comes to points of contention like noise and parking, set clear house rules for your listing, and be selective about the types of guests you target and to whom you ultimately rent.

Determine your target guest
Make sure your listing appeals to the type of guests most likely to book with you, and least likely to cause headaches for you and your neighbours – business travellers in downtown areas, for example.

Have the right amenities
Make sure you have the essentials – including things like smoke alarms and CO detectors, a working TV with streaming capabilities, reliable Wi-Fi, and coffee – as well as amenities that will set your listing apart from the competition.

Set clear house rules
These should not be overly restrictive, but make sure you indicate what is not allowed. Things to address include smoking, off-limit areas, quiet hours, extra guests and pets.

Don’t…

Run out of toilet paper, napkins or paper towel
This is one of the easiest ways to ruin a guest’s experience and ensure a negative review for your listing.

Get the wrong insurance
Airbnb offers free host protection insurance of up to $1 million USD, but certain things – such as property damage from pollution or mould, and intentional damage or injury – are not covered under the policy. Talk to your home insurance company about options for additional coverage.

Have no spare key(s) available
People lose things, including keys, so make sure you’re ready with a backup plan. A lockbox guests can access that contains a spare or two will go a long way towards improving your guests’ experience and making your life easier.

Drop in unannounced
People appreciate their privacy, so barging in on a guest is sure to sour their experience. Try to avoid visiting your listing during a booking unless there is an emergency.

Forget to provide towels
Just like any hotel room, clean bath towels and washcloths are a must to keep your guests happy.

Price your rental incorrectly
This requires regular monitoring and updating, as market conditions are constantly changing. Too high could mean extra vacant days, but too low could mean you’re not maximizing your earning potential. Third-party pricing companies, such as Wheelhouse, are also available for a small fee for hosts who want to eliminate most of the guesswork.