Airbnb is a name you have heard before, but we have created this article, especially to tell you all you probably never knew about it.
Airbnb is an online platform created specifically to connect people who are willing to rent out their homes with other people who need accommodations in that environment.
The Airbnb service currently covers over 81,000 cities and approximately 191 countries around the globe. The company gets its name from “air mattress B&B.”
For homeowners, participating in Airbnb is a great way to make some money from their property, however with the risk that guests who use the property might do damage to it.
For the guests, on the other hand, the advantage of using the service can be relatively inexpensive housing, but with the risk that the chosen property will not be as appealing as portrayed by the listing.
A quick summary of Airbnb
This service helps travelers manage money as they can easily book an Airbnb apartment for less than the price of a hotel room.
The primary risk to the customer is that the property they get via Airbnb may not live up to their expectations (which is mostly what appears in its listing).
The number 1 risk to hosts is that their guests may do some severe damage to their houses.
What are the Advantages of Airbnb?
- Wide Selection: The hosts on Airbnb list a wide range of properties at different prices—single rooms, apartments, a suite of rooms, moored yachts, entire houses, houseboats, even a castle— depending on your budget.
- Free Listings: Hosts do not have to pay any money to the Airbnb company to list their properties. Property listings can include photographs with captions, written descriptions, and a user profile that allows potential guests to know a little about their hosts.
- With Airbnb Hosts Can Set Their Own Price: The company doesn’t fix the prices of properties they feature. It is wholly left to each host to choose how much they want to charge per night, week, or month.
- Customizable Searches: Guests can run a search on the Airbnb database—not only by location and date, but by type of property, price, amenities, and even the language of the host. They can also include keywords (like “close to the Louvre”) to narrow their search further.
- Additional Services: In the past few years, Airbnb has expanded the services it offers to include experiences and restaurants. Apart from a listing of available apartments for the dates, they plan to travel, visitors searching by location will be able to view a list of experiences, such as sightseeing and classes offered by local Airbnb hosts. There are also restaurant listings that include reviews from Airbnb hosts.
- Protections for Guests and Hosts: As a way to protect the guests, Airbnb retains custody of the guest’s payment for 24 hours after they check-in before finally releasing the funds to the host. For hosts, the company has a Host Guarantee program which provides protection for up to $1,000,000 in damages to covered host property in the rare event of damage by guest, in eligible countries.
The Disadvantages of Airbnb
- What You See May Not Be What You Get: As with many online transactions that involve buying and selling or renting, what you see isn’t always what you get. Booking accommodations with Airbnb is different from walking into a major hotel chain and booking a room. With major hotel chains, you have a reasonable assurance that what you have seen online about the property will be what you get. Individual hosts allowed to create their own listings, and some of them may be more honest than others. That isn’t exactly a problem. You can find out the truth by reading the comments of previous guests about their experiences. This can provide you with a more objective view. Always check the feedback of guests who have stayed at any Airbnb property you are interested in, just to make sure the listing is exactly what you expect it to be.
- Potential Damage: This is probably the most significant risk for Airbnb hosts, and there is no guarantee you’ll be lucky enough not to experience it. While most guest stays go without incident, there have been several stories of entire buildings being trashed by many party-goers when the innocent Airbnb hosts thought they were letting their premises out to a quiet family. But, with the Airbnb’s Host Guarantee program, which we have described above, hosts are provided some assurance, but it still may not cover everything, such as rare artwork, cash, jewelry, and pets. As expected, hosts whose homes get damaged by pets may also experience considerable inconvenience.
- Added Fees: Though it seems almost extra charges free for hosts, Airbnb imposes some additional fees (the same way hotels and other lodging providers). All guests have to pay a guest service fee of between 0% to 20% in addition to the reservation fee, to cover things like Airbnb’s customer support and others. Prices on the platform displays in the currency the guest selects provided Airbnb supports it. Banks or credit card issuers may include fees if applicable. And, while all listings are free, Airbnb also charges its hosts a service fee of at minimum 3% for every reservation, to cover the cost of processing their transaction.
- Taxes: Both Airbnb hosts and guests from the European Union, Norway, and Switzerland may be subject to a value-added tax (VAT). Also, depending on where they are, hosts may have to pay rental income taxes. To assist with the U.S. tax compliance, Airbnb makes sure to collect taxpayer information from its hosts so that they can provide an account of their earnings every year via 1099 and 1042 forms.
- It Isn’t Legal Everywhere: Before a host can list their properties on Airbnb, they must check their local zoning ordinances to ensure it is legal to rent out their properties. Airbnb hosts may also be required to get special permits or licenses before they rent out their apartments.
We hope this article has been helpful. Leave a comment below if you’d like to share your Airbnb experience to help other readers.