July 22, 2015
I was quoted in Money magazine in an article about Airbnb, Thinking About Renting a Room to Travelers? Here’s What You Need to Know. The article reads, in part,
Of all the categories shaken up by the sharing economy, few are as transformed as lodging. For travelers, ditching the hotel for Airbnb can be a more affordable way to go. And on the flip side, offering your own home or apartment to vacationers can earn you cash—$100 to $150 a night on average, according to Airbnb, much more in some popular destinations.
That can be fairly easy money. Unless something goes wrong, in which case it can be a disaster. You need to protect yourself from legal and financial risks. Here’s what home sharers should know.
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Play It Safe
Don’t just rely on the home-sharing site’s standard insurance plan, because the coverage is generally too ambiguous, says David Reiss, research director for the Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship at Brooklyn Law School. Your existing homeowners policy may cover you for a single rental of less than two weeks, but call to ask.
More than that and you’ll need to switch to a commercial policy, which covers paying guests and typically costs an additional $500 per year, says Scott Wolf of CBIZ Property & Casualty.
Or try home swapping. For a small annual fee, sites such as HomeLink and HomeExchange connect people who want to visit each other’s location; because no money changes hands, you may avoid tax and liability issues. Still, check with your insurer—and of course, you need to be extremely cautious about who you let into your house. As a rule, none of these sites conducts background checks, so do your own by Googling guests and searching their social media accounts.
“Five years from now, the laws and the insurance policies will have caught up with the sharing economy,” Reiss predicts. “For now, though, it boils down to how risk averse you are.”| Permalink