Making Money

Airbnb: A Guide to Hosting

Written by Kristen Grau

Learn all about Airbnb from a hosting perspective, and how a room or vacant apartment you manage can turn into thousands per month.

That vacant room in your house that’s slowly collecting dust could be making you almost $1,000 per month.

Airbnb allows you to double your home as a short-term vacation house for tourists exploring your city. You post pictures of the room or apartment you plan to list along with its amenities. Potential guests can look at prior reviews and contact you if they have any questions or concerns.

There are also long-term leasing options for landlords with free apartments. Whether you want to lend your home to an adventurous couple for just a weekend or a college student studying abroad for the summer, here’s what you need to know about making your home an Airbnb listing.

What is Airbnb?

Airbnb is like Uber for homes. If you need a place to stay, Airbnb lets you choose from different willing owners’ homes and spaces in your area. There’s an abundance of Airbnbs in major tourist cities all over the world. You can also find deals on must-do experiences in different cities on Airbnb.

If you’re not looking for a place to stay, you can use Airbnb as a way to make extra money. Airbnb guests can stumble upon your listing and if they do this enough, you can make an Airbnb host’s average monthly income of $924, according to fintech lender Earnest.

How to become an Airbnb host

There are no sign up charges for hosts – it’s free to list your home. But there are some important things to know before you make your home available to anybody worldwide.

  1. Check your local laws. Different cities have different laws on how long you can keep guests and get permission from local government via a license or permit, according to Airbnb. They also say these are policies you need to be familiar with in your area:
    • Business licenses
    • Building and housing standards
    • Zoning rules
    • Special permits
    • Taxes
  2. Consult your landlord. If you’re not the true owner of your home or apartment, your contract may have a particular policy on subletting. Always make sure becoming a Airbnb host is OK with your homeowner’s association or landlord, if necessary.
  3. Make your own pricing and rules. This requires you do research into what other Airbnb hosts in your area are charging. You can also customize your guest requirements settings. Many hosts require guests to provide an ID and agree to their house rules lined out on the listing.
  4. Meet Airbnb’s basic requirements:
    • Be responsive
    • Accept reservation requests
    • Avoid cancellations
    • Maintain a high overall rating
    • Provide essential amenities (soap, toilet paper, towels, pillows, linens)

That’s all you need to become an Airbnb host. As a host, you might earn some extra cash – but superhosts are the ones who really excel. Superhosts get more visibility, earnings and rewards. Here are the superhost requirements:

  • A 4.8 overall rating
  • A minimum of 10 stays for short-term hosts; 100 nights over three stays for long-term hosts
  • Less than 1 percent cancellation rate
  • A 90 percent response rate

Airbnb host tips

The better you’re reviewed, the more likely you are to reel in traveling guests and appear in people’s searches. And getting good reviews means going above and beyond for your guests. Regardless of what kind of space you’ve listed – a boat, a treehouse or a penthouse – the rules of being a good host apply across the board. Getting a great rating as a host on Airbnb is crucial to eventually becoming a superhost.

Airbnb Do’s

  1. Fill out Airbnb’s House Manual. This is where you explain to your guest things that make living in the house a little bit easier. That includes how to use the shower, appliances and other utilities. Instead of filling out the online House Manual Airbnb suggests, some hosts leave notes around the house.
  2. Get extras of everything. It’s important to keep as many resources as you can in the house to make it easier for your guests. Get extra snacks, extra toiletries, extra towels, extra anything they might go through quickly.
  3. Greet your guests. If you’re living on the same site as your guest, make yourself available to give a tour or answer any questions they may have. Guests won’t want you looking over their shoulder their entire stay, but offer them the opportunity to reach out to you.

Airbnb Don’ts

  1. Take poor pictures on your listing. Photos are the first thing your guest sees while scrolling through options. Even if you offer incredible amenities, they’ll never click on your listing because your photo turned them off.
  2. Be clingy with your guests. Your guests are there to relax and vacation, most likely. Use your instincts to gauge whether the party you’re hosting wants you all that present during their stay.
  3. Get their hopes up. Don’t lie on your listing about the quality of your space. Airbnb’s blog says, “Your excessively colorful property description might result in lots of initial bookings but in the long-term, you are going to get a bunch of bad reviews and cancellations. Always be honest.”

The pros and cons of Airbnb

Sharing your home with strangers can make you cash, or just a lot of time and effort. The pros and cons of hosting with Airbnb may be dependent on what kind of space you’re renting out and where you live. Everybody’s hosting experience is different.


  1. There’s more in it for you than the guest. Airbnb guests must pay 12 percent to Airbnb when they book a room, while hosts only cough up 3 percent. That makes it a lot easier for hosts to make money.
  2. Airbnb income is tax-free if you host 14 days or less in a year. This tax exemption, sometimes called the “Masters” rule was created for wealthy people to rent their homes to Masters Tournament spectators, according to Forbes. It also extends to Airbnb hosts. However much you pull in from 14 days of hosting, you’re able to keep it all.
  3. Airbnb is flexible. You can fill out a calendar and host only on days you can or want to. You can also block off dates ahead of time. Schedule as accurately as you can so you can avoid cancellations from poor planning.


  1. The extra cash isn’t guaranteed. Even if you do put a listing up, there’s no guarantee anybody will book you. Airbnb hosts in well-known, populated cities will have a bigger pool of guests than hosts in smaller cities.
  2. Responding to inquiries can be time-consuming. A lot of being a host is communicating with your guest before and during their stay. It can be time-consuming to maintain, depending on how frequently you rent out your space.
  3. You may run into high-maintenance and difficult guests. Hosts say this isn’t a vast majority, but once in a while they come across sloppy guests. This is why some hosts make it a requirement to agree to their house rules before they book.


Airbnb is a cheap and easy way to make some extra cash – if you take the right steps. Hosting can definitely be profitable if you live in the right area. If you put enough time into being a good host, good reviews and lots of cash might come your way. If you have an extra space in your room you don’t use, Airbnb might be your solution.

About the author

Kristen Grau