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Old poster, returning to host


#1

Hello everyone! Some of you may remember me; I was an active poster here in 2016. I host in Seattle, where I rented my basement suite, marketing towards backpacker-types who would enjoy our urban chickens. Your advice was immensely helpful in getting my listening established, screening bad guests, and ensuring I was booked at near capacity in a competitive market.

I was ready to return to hosting a few months after my baby was born, but I had a great tenant in my basement who was clean, quiet, responsible, and handy, so I was in no hurry to boot her. She is moving out sometime next month, and I look forward to getting my rental up and running again.

What has changed on the AirBnb scene since 2016? Is AirBnB pushing instant book? Any new policies or regulations I should know of?

I know here in Seattle, our city council recently passed a flat tax on rooms in homes ($8 a night) and entire units ($14 a night). It’s unclear if it is on top of the 15% occupancy tax AirBnB guests already pay in our city, or replacing it. Fortunately this won’t go into effect until 2019 so I have a little bit of time to research. I’m unclear how my unit will be taxed, since it is basically a MIL apartment with a separate entrance but some shared areas. I suppose it will come down to whether I list the unit as a room-in-home or a separate unit on the AirBnB platform.

Anyhow, I was excited to come post here, and I hope you all have been well!


#2

Welcome back! I remember you.


#3

Hi K9! Thank you. Just before I left, you told me about Mister Money Mustache, and that blog changed my life.


#4

Awesome! Thanks for letting me know! I wish I could thing of something useful to tell you about Airbnb but it seems mostly the same to me and nothing pops to mind. I had my best year yet.


#5

I’m glad to hear it! Are you still boarding dogs as well?

I’m excited to get back into business and get re-established a few months before the busy summer season. I’m thinking about listing as an “entire unit” rather than “room in house” and turning on instant-book so I can charge more, but do like being able to decline local unemployed guests.


#6

Yes I am.

It seems the break helped you. You were pretty burned out when you stopped hosting. I love instant book. I’ve never had to cancel a booking so I can’t say much about that. I’ve read conflicting reports on here about it. I think if you have in your rules that no unemployed locals are permitted then you can cancel them.


#7

Hello @Xena

Welcome back.

I would make sure you read Airbnb’s Help Centre from cover to cover. They change how they work all the time and it is hard to keep up!

Also read the useful community guides and tutorials on Airbnb’s Community Centre.

Your City Council will I am sure have something on their website about how any STR regulations and tax issues might affect you.

I don’t think you could have a house rule saying ‘no unemployed locals’ as that would be seen to be discriminatory on your part, so you wouldn’t be able to decline a guest on that basis.

It is more around if a guest want to book more guests than your space allows, or breaks other house rules such as wanting to bring a child when you have said your listing isn’t suitable for children.


#8

I’m sorta “back” too, although it’s just back to hosting. Been hanging around here pretty steadily since I enjoy the advice and (usually) the banter.

We have a triplex in Central California near a university that we had been AirBnB’ing while in between renting to students. I changed jobs last August and that brought us back to So Cal, where we’re from. We deliberately bought a home with an in-law suite when we moved so we could keep doing AirBnB. Before our triplex bldg was 7 blocks from our home - now we have guests in the other end of our home. It’s definitely a difference in hosting. Our in-law suite is 3 rooms with a private entrance that is attached to our main home with a hallway next to the living room. We learned with our first guest 8 days ago that the door separating our space needed soundproofing. It was awkward tiptoeing around the first few nights while we were online researching soundproofing materials. We think we have a workable solution for now, though.

So far, so good with our new listing. We are getting constant bookings. We’re the only listing in our general area that is a private suite so I think that’s helping. I do think I prefer having guests in their private suite vs our previous setup. Definitely makes turnovers and greetings easier.

We still have the triplex in Central Calif but prefer to stay with LTR to students with that property. We do have a room open there now (a kid flunked out with the midterms) and have it on AirBnB until we get the LTR, but not excited about remote hosting, to be honest.


#9

I have two doors in the tiny hallway between the guest room and my space. That is, the door to the guest room was just the typical interior door leading in. I added a second door in the hallway in effect creating a closet that I can walk through into the guest room. I didn’t fully realize until this past fall how much sound is passing through the ductwork. It’s a very effective transmitter of sound. So you may need to consider that as well. There’s not much I can do since I want the guest room to be heated and cooled with the central system but it’s worth being aware of the issue.


#10

I was getting burned out, especially as I entered the third trimester of my pregnancy and was getting tired of moving furniture and getting down on my hands and knees to clean. I may start taking an annual break in the slow months of January and February to prevent future burnout.

Looks like AirBnB automatically checks the “InstantBook” filter in my city now, so I may give in and use it for the increased listing exposure. I’ve had good luck describing my ideal guest and attracting said guest. Limiting the maximum stay worked wonders. Learned the hard way from my first guests, who were the worst I’ve had, and stayed 3 weeks.


#11

Hi Xena!! Congrats on the baby!! Motherhood is the best. I am glad you are back! Didn’t you tell us you work from home? That’s what I did when I had my twins.

Sadly the things that have changed with Air seem to really favor guests. No surprise there! :laughing::laughing:

But since you know the basics already stick to them, I would advise… such as strict policy and (for me) no IB. Get tax in cash. Make sure you have a license and list the number on the tax and regulation page.

Was your tenant a student? I am anxious to hear how you compare Airbnb to your long term renting. I think I have a similar set up, only mine is a garden level apartment. We don’t have basements in Hawaii.

Good luck and keep us posted!!! :heart_eyes::heart_eyes:


#12

Also do please consider a cleaner.

The last thing you need with a little one is to have to do that extra cleaning yourself !!!


#13

Instead of saying no unemployed locals (Helsi has a point about discrimination) just wording what you do want is better. If I were an unemployed local I would never tell. I’d also never stay with someone who didn’t want me. I’d find a way to book the place I wanted and then if I found one I’d like to stay at longer I’d discuss with the host.


#14

Yes, correct… be really careful about how you “exclude” someone. I would vet them really carefully if possible. Since you have a baby now, I just personally would not go on IB. But that is me.

I would never ever accept someone local. I take other islands but there is really no reason for someone local to book here unless they could not find housing through traditional channels. But I would never say so in the listing.


#15

Can I ask what your solution was? I think we need to do the same, but everything I’ve found online suggests either rebuilding the door completely or ugly looking solutions.


#16

Thank you, Kona! I work from home two days a week, and on campus three days a week currently. I’m a lecturer at a public university, though currently looking for new jobs in my field because my contract is ending. My tenant was a friend, and that worked out well. I used to have three roommate-tenants when I bought the house in 2010 (I was in graduate school at the time) and gradually went down to one, then AirBnB, then back to a roommate-tenant. We should have charged more in the early days; we had some bottom-of-the-barrel roommates. Once we raised rent and had fewer roommates, we attracted better folks.

I’ll try going with IB and see how I’m doing. I didn’t use it before and had no problem staying booked because I have a sleeper-sofa and a lot of groups of 3-4 young people stayed with us.

@Helsi hiring a cleaner is a good idea, but would probably eat into my profit too much.

One thing I do want to do differently this time is open a credit card just for AirBnB expenses, so I can have an easier time keeping track of what it costs me to run when it comes times to write off business expenses on my taxes.


#17

Welcome back Xena!

Off hand…not sure of the timeline of recent changes and if they took effect while you were still hosting:

Under age of two are free unless stated in house rules that they will be charged. I expect this “allowance” will eventually disappear

Emotional support dogs (not limited to actual service dogs) are allowed with no charge, nor notification required. Of course there are exceptions if it causes issues with a shared space…but something to def. read up on. You can easily google the policy on that.

Guests can do split group payments (not sure if this is for all properties currently) and have 72 hours to make payment or booking is automatically cancelled. Have no idea if there is time limit on this. For example, if the booking comes in at 80 hours before check in…is this still allowed?

Not sure of how the recent testing of guests being able to have 48 hours to cancel if reservation is made 14 days in advance. I believe this optional or they were just doing an A/B test.

Take another look at cancellation policies and how some guests will not lose their service fee. Less “skin in the game” for guests, and encourages guests to do a “book and hold” while they still shop around.

In some areas, if there are enough “instant book” properties…“request to book” properties will not be shown by default.

Overall…now that Air has rounded up enough hosts, they are trying to push for everyone to become more hotel like.

Hopefully you do not get any unemployed locals! :wink:


#18

We bought this from Amazon:

We had this type of “barn door” made for the door that leads to the AirBnB suite:
http://barndoorsmoreinc.com/4th-gallery/5420914 Probably other doors would be more practical.

Although the door looks great, the sound was a problem. I wanted to glue or screw the soundproofing material to the guest-side of the door but the DH insisted we just jam it into the doorway instead. We hung the same stuff on our side of the door, clipped to the bar that the door rolls on. Not beautiful, but it can all be taken down when we’re not AirBnB’ing the suite.

Editing to add: We also figured out a great way to enjoy TV when there’s a guest on the other side of the wall. We have a Roku on the TV so we downloaded the Roku app - it turns your cell phone into a Roku remote complete with the ability to listen to TV thru your cell earphones.


#19

Ugh - will keep that in mind!. Thanks for the tip. We can’t shut ours off either as they also heat/cool the suite.


#20

Zena, nice to see you back. We’ve lost so many great posters since I’ve been on here so it’s wonderful when one returns. Wishing you many pleasant hosting experiences!


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