Warning! Don't depend on Airbnb!

I just read this on another thread. A host lost out on 2600 euros because of a last minute cancellation.

In reply @sandy2 commented that she lost out on 2 months income due to licensing laws changing in her city.

While I am empathetic to those who depend on airbnb income, I “cringe” when I think of the the many disruptions that can occur. This cringing isn’t a condemnation of the person dependent on the income, it’s an “I feel your pain” sort of thing.

Here are some of the ways your monthly Airbnb income can decline or disappear that are out of your control:
(There are threads throughtout this forum detailing all of these issues)

Increased competition
Natural disasters and weather (wildfires, earthquakes, hurricanes, lightning strike, floods, volcano, etc.)
Neighbors getting pissed off and making your life miserable
Host Illness or injury that result in needed to suspend hosting
STR rentals are outlawed or restricted in some way by govt or HOA
Airbnb site outages or glitches
Seasonality for your location
bedbug infestation
bad reviews
Airbnb suspension of your account
There’s a fire (or similar disaster) in your rental and your insurance doesn’t cover it.
Rental gets trashed and you’re waiting on the Airbnb resolution center
Closing for repairs or remodeling
Work on the infrastructure in your locality
Terrorism or health scares that impact travel to your area
Airbnb changes cancellation policy and refunds everyone (re: trial program in Italy)
Problems with mortgage company

Diversify income streams if you can. Have a rainy day or season fund. Buy insurance.

Can anyone think of other threats to income and strategies of mitigating the damage?

Edited to add bold print above in March 2020 to reflect Covid 19 current issue

Fortunately, I also flip houses (in between projects right now so that’s why I’m here a lot – learning bunches). While the money is awesome, I know that any and all of the above can affect my income. I would add an almost month-long vacation, which my daughter and I did this summer. Although I still had guests, I had to block a day in-between bookings to accommodate my cleaner and I paid her a bunch. Having said that – it was totally worth it. Trip of a life-time :slight_smile:

Also add HOA deciding that they are changing the rules so that STRs are no longer allowed (which is covered under your #5.


Diversification is key. I’m fortunate enough to have a career I can still manage to work and no matter where I go in the US, I will be able to work in that field no problem. But, I also have a direct sales business. I could also charge for some healing work I do. And I keep current on social media how-to’s and have bartered and been paid by businesses to teach them the basics (very basics, I’m not too tech savvy!) on how to use social media.
As to mitigating damage…just the constant struggle many of us face of trying to make sure we have enough funds in the bank to carry us should we become unemployed for a few months.


Oh yeah! My favorites are the posters who are sub-letting or doing this in violation of some law or rules and also claiming they are dependent on the income. Not a good plan!


Nope. If I have to switch to LTR, at least Airbnb has let me completely recoup what I have into the place. I’ll take a big monthly hit but I’ll have a lot less laundry :slight_smile:


I love how they get mad at US for telling they shouldn’t be subletting in violation of their lease.


Thar she blows! Hurricane Watch just issued for us. Next guest arrives Saturday. Well outside the cone of uncertainty.


STR income from Airbnb is doubtless uncertain. But the same applies to pretty much any form of income, doesn’t it? And STR income is actually more predictable than some. If you own your own house, you can rent it out. Maybe your area will past anti-STR laws, but you can still reasonably expect some form of rental. Unless you live in an area nobody wants to go to/live in.

In many jobs, your job security, and therefore your degree of income stability, is month to month. That actually strikes me as significantly more precarious. Of course, if you own your own stable business, you’re good. But how many are in that fortunate position?


I know the pattern after almost 7 years. It dies in summer. It just does. So I plan ahead. I put income away for the slow times. I use that for my expenses. You can’t do both short and long term renting so you have to make a choice.

I also run my Air on a shoestring. I wait for sales. I never pay full price for sheets, towels, dishes or anything. I get free Nest beds. :smile:

My place is budget priced. I’m not going to put 1000 count Egyptian cotton sheets on the bed and give them better than I have upstairs in my own place. Not for $79 low and $99 high.

Another thing to add to you r list Karma is repairs or remodeling. You can’t really rent when you are closed for remodeling.


I’m sure you are right for many jobs. I and my closest friends were not always changing jobs, I know a lot of people with government jobs. It’s the posters who are devastated like it never occurred to them that anything could go wrong that need to think about their options.

Another thing to add is that they could change their terms at anytime. They could raise the host rate to 6%. Right now, it’s super attractive to hosts because of this very small 3%. Think about it. That covers a lot. They find you the guests. Their platform (even with its glitches), is way better than others, as is host guarantee, even though it is not perfect. No one else has that. If you made $20,000 on your listing, you only paid them $600, which covers dealing directly with credit cards, chargebacks, and international bank charges. Really that is not bad. Even at double it is still doable.

Just sayin. The platform could change its terms to something unacceptable and you wouldn’t be able to hang on. Or Air could unlist you without giving a reason. These are all possibles.


When I started with DogVacay I paid a 15% fee and guests paid nothing. Last year they started experimenting with a guest fee of 5-9%. They didn’t tell hosts, I found out from a new customer who texted me after he went to book his dog’s stay. I was furious that I was clueless when he called to ask me about it. Now new hosts pay a 20% fee and they settled on a 7% booking fee for guests who joined the site mid 2016. There was a mighty fury about it on the DogVacay Top Host facebook page with all kinds of dire warnings. The truth is, the business keeps coming in. I’m grandfathered in to the 15% but I’ve said that I will leave if they try to raise me to 20% cut. It will be interesting to see what the market will bear.


Are US government jobs particularly secure? I know that is the case in many parts of the world.

@KKC Dusty, thank you so much for having the courage and common sense to start this thread. It had to be said and no one says it as well as you.

I updated my personal website today with exactly this in mind. Plus, I am already on VRBO. Although, I must say I do not depend on my Air money to keep a roof over my head.


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Not just US Federal jobs but also state and local. Teachers, police, firefighters, prison guards, military service members and all the Department of Defense jobs to support them. My friends in the private sectors switch jobs more often. Entrepreneurship like Airbnb is the riskiest because there’s no safety net if it fails.

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Thanks for your kind words, but I don’t think it takes much courage. LOL. If I had vacation property I would definitely have my own website. I’ve thought about doing one for my dog boarding and leaving DogVacay behind. They are taking 15% from me and 7% from my new guests.

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Do most goverment positions all have a set payscale, where you don’t have to beg and beg for a raise? I know there is most likely a range for each position.

But you know how in the private sector you could be making $30,000 less than a co-worker doing the exact same job - and you might even being doing it better?? Is it the same office politics in government sector? I know a couple people in government jobs and they seem to be very happy, making great money. And lots of time off.

That is great for you, that you are so prepared. I was not.
Now I will be. I took advice’s from you and other Host
close to heart.

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I worked as a financial planner for a while. The best advise I would give people is yes you should diversify, but also to save, regardless of where the income happens to come from.

AND if you don’t save during the best of times, when exactly would you be able to? The way, the only way to do this is to always live ‘below your means’ during the best of times, which will allow you to save in the first place.


We had six lovely years with TWO full-time, government salaries. Saved one. Lived on the other. Only reason we have anything.