Airbnb is often deemed the staple company for booking short-term rentals when traveling, providing visitors with a more “homey” and affordable stay than a traditional hotel, and providing homeowners with extra income. In fact, there is an average of two million people staying at an Airbnb home on any given night, resulting in over $41 billion dollars earned by Airbnb hosts.
While Airbnb has taken the world by storm, unclear rules and an unregulated presence poses issues related to legality, safety, and liability. Before you sign up for another short-term rental through Airbnb or put your house on the site, consider these 5 facts:
1. Airbnb has a loose background check system
While Airbnb claims to check criminal record databases, they also admit there are gaps in coverage provided by public records searches and online databases. Consider consulting Airbnb guides to see what other pertinent information you should research before renting out your home to a stranger.
2. Airbnb does not conduct inspections of all listings
This year, Airbnb started a new upscale program called “Airbnb Plus” which contrary to standard listings, does require an in-person walkthrough from Airbnb. By avoiding inspections, Airbnb cannot be held liable for any injury or death that may occur on a property. Airbnb lists safety tips for both guests and hosts but fails to have any property standards or requirements for homeowners. While it may look one way online, it could look different in person; if you are looking to book a rental, be sure to read reviews!
3. Rules and regulations for short-term rentals can be complex
Don’t let your guests get kicked out of your place! Conduct research to ensure your Airbnb home is in accordance with the rules. There are many regulations to consider when looking to rent out your home or place of residence on Airbnb. You must not only consider zoning rules, permit and/or license requirements, and applicable taxes, but also consult with your Homeowner Association (HOA) and/or landlord. Short-term homestay rentals are somewhat new and often lead to confusion for what can be allowed.
4. While there are some initiatives to help, Airbnb does not handle liability suits
Unfortunately, you’re on your own! Airbnb allows hosts to request security deposits as well as provides hosts with damage protection of up to $1 million in damages under the Host Guarantee. This being said, it is not considered insurance. If you are a guest, consider buying travelers’ insurance.
5. You waive your right to sue Airbnb
In order to use Airbnb’s service, you must waive your right to sue, join a class-action lawsuit, or join a class-action arbitration.
Airbnb has morphed into one of the biggest travel brands, and in its process, has radically transformed what it means to travel. With over 4.5 million properties in over 80,000 cities, Airbnb will be a player in the travel industry for years to come. But before you book or rent your home, consider these five facts to help prepare you for your next Airbnb stay or guest booking.