How to start hosting on Airbnb

Stock photo via Thailand-Property

If you are a traveller, chances are you have checked out Airbnb. And, if you haven’t, it is a great site to find a house or apartment to stay in longer term than a hotel in Thailand or elsewhere. The experience is often favoured as you can feel more at home during your chosen place to stay.

Today, Airbnb is active in more than 65,000 cities around the world, with almost 4 million listings. Here, we can help you decide if becoming a host is right for you as well as answering frequently-asked questions.

How much money can you make as an Airbnb host?

If you’re thinking about being an Airbnb host, your intention is more than likely to start it as a side job, not to start a full-fledged business. On average, hosts make $924USD per month, but the numbers can drastically vary. Some hosts even decide to buy or lease more than 1 apartment or home and rent them out full-time, earning possible 6-figure incomes.

One way to see how much you could potentially earn as a host, is by plugging in your location, the number of guests you can host, and how much of your home you are able to rent out on Airbnb’s website. This will then calculate an average number to start with.

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But, your true earning potential depends on many factors, including how much you charge for your space and how often you rent it out. How much time and money you spend on maintaining your home as a rentable space as well as how much you spend to furnish it are also factors that affect your overall earning.

Deciding on your goals for becoming a host is the first thing you should do before embarking on this experience. Some things to think about include how much you are willing to spend on your house to make it rent-worthy, as well as your responsibilities, roles and expenses.

Determining your Airbnb space

Whatever market you want to enter on Airbnb, is best decided before you start. Whether it’s a single room that shares your bathroom, a private room with its own entrance, or your entire living space, the type of space matters. Time periods also matter. For example, if you want to rent out your space only on weekends, holidays or summer months, this also needs to be taken into account.

Determine expected costs for offered amenities

Some amenities are crucial to the Airbnb experience. Such things include keyless locks for easier check-ins, a microwave, fridge, Keurig, and furniture. Regardless of how much space you intend to rent out, stocking it with the bare minimum amenities is something to factor into your overall costs.

The Airbnb platform lists towels, clean sheets, and toilet paper as must-haves. But, to get a higher rating, additional amenities are definitely worth investing. Also, you need to factor in the increase in utility bills as renting out your space will come with higher utility costs.

Get permission from appropriate governing bodies

Getting proper permission (in writing if possible) is pertinent to avoiding future problems with your landlord, or homeowner. It is a good idea to read your lease agreement and look for any provisions that detail subletting.

Depending on where you live, there may be legal restrictions to renting out your home on a short-term basis. And, unfortunately, sorting through the fine print can be a headache. But, to avoid fines or unexpected smack downs, it is best to get everything sorted before you start.

NOTE: According to Airbnb and Thailand’s Hotel Act, B.E. 2547:

“Thailand has laws and regulations that may affect short-term rentals. Please check the relevant laws and regulations for compliance, including the Hotel Act, B.E. 2547 (2004), the Building Control Act, B.E. 2522 (1979), the Public Health Act, B.E. 2535 (1992), and other relevant provincial regulations.

For example, please take note of the 2008 Ministerial Regulation under the Hotel Act, B.E. 2547 (2004), which states that short term property rentals shall not require a hotel license if:

The property has four rooms or less;
The property can accommodate a maximum of twenty guests or less; and
The rental of such property merely provides an additional source of income for the owner

However, Hosts operating property rentals under this exemption must still report their rental activity to the relevant local authorities. A failure to report is subject to significant fines and penalties.”

Research your market and set your price

Determining where you fit into the Airbnb market as a host, is another important hurdle. Using the AirDNA is great for doing market research. The site’s metrics can show how your nightly prices compare to other homes in the area, or when you might want to consider lowering or raising the prices. The days of the week and expected surges in demand are also factored in when you use the platform.

Setting the minimum number of nights that people can stay in your home also helps you determine how much costs you will need to offset. Turning over the space includes the necessary cleaning and upkeep, which could determine how many days you require a renter to stay, in order to save on such services. Extra guests or additional amenities and services is another factor to consider when determining prices.

Your profit margin goals also need to be part of your internal discussion as being a host needs to be worth it to your pocketbook.

How much you get paid for your Airbnb rental

Airbnb charges guests before their arrival and they release your money according to the payment method of your choice. Popular methods include PayPal or direct deposit, which will see the funds added 24 hours after your guests’ check in.

Host fees can range from 3% to 5%, so your guests will see a listing price that is actually higher than what you will earn. Weekly or monthly discounts, weekend or seasonal pricing, co-host payments, and VAT should also be factored into how much you expect to earn.

Hiring help to manage your Airbnb rental

Being a host can definitely be tough to manage alone. Having at least 1 other person to help you co-manage the property is a great idea. That person can ease the burden of responding to emails and daily communications or simply help physically manage the property.

Urgent issues, check-in processes, and other important routine services can all be made easier with the help of a co-host. Airbnb allows you to enlist the help of up to 3 co-hosts. But, make sure the co-hosts are well-versed on Airbnb’s Co-host Terms of Agreement.

The time investment of hosting on Airbnb

If you have everything figured out, the last thing to mull over, is if hosting is actually worth the time and effort. If you invest your time, you will get more bookings, and more reviews. And, reviews matter, as the more reviews you get, the more you will appear in searches by potential guests.

Airbnb taxes

Airbnb taxes are complicated as there is no uniform tax policy that applies. Usually hosts will have different tax policies depending on the city in which their property is located. Knowing your local tax laws is important to understand what taxes you will need to collect or pay in order to be a host.

If you city requires you to collect local taxes from your guests, you will need to let them know the exact amount BEFORE they book. To do this, you can either include the amount in the listing or not. But, if you choose not to include it in the actual listing, you will have to collect the amount from your guests when they arrive. Keep in mind that Airbnb cannot aid in tax collection or ensure that it is paid.

The percentage of tax that Airbnb takes from hosts

Airbnb usually takes 3% tax from hosts, but the percentage will be higher if you are an Airbnb Plus host. Also locations in Italy as well as a strict cancellation policy will see a higher tax being collected. Mainland China locations will also see a tax rate of 10% from hosts due to national laws.

Other costs to consider

As with almost every venture, there are always additional costs that can spring up. Furnishing, maintenance, stocking, cleaning services, co-host income, taxes, Airbnb host fees, and higher utility bills are among the additional costs to always keep in mind when planning out your earned income. And, it is recommended that you keep your profit expectations conservative, especially if you are not willing to spend huge amounts of time and energy into hosting.



Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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