Renting out your home via the sharing economy has quickly become a popular way to earn some extra money, but opening up your home and belongings to people you don't know is not without risks.
As of June this year there were 115 thousand listings for Aussie homes on AirBnB alone.
It's clear that the sharing economy works for many hosts and guests.
But it's not without risks as there have been stories of guests damaging properties and leaving hosts exposed to out of pocket expenses for repairs and maintenance.
If you want to avoid being stung there some very simple steps you can take as a host to minimise your risk and ensure the experience is pleasant for both you and your guests.
Use the platform to thoroughly screen potential guests.
Read their ratings and reviews on the platform.
You might also want to check out their social media profiles such as their Instagram account or their Facebook profile to see if they are who they say they are and to get some insight as to the type of guest they’re likely to be.
Stay on the platform
Only communicate using the relevant platform.
If you make any arrangements outside of the website, you may no longer be protected by any platform guarantees or insurance.
If a potential guest requests to make contact or any arrangements outside of your platform, this should raise alarm bells and you should reconsider your decision to accept the booking.
House rules are important.
As the host, it's your right to set boundaries and make them known beforehand to your guests.
Clearly outline any prohibitions, restricted areas, and specific instructions in your description.
Keep a printed copy on the fridge as a reminder for your guests.
Keep valuables locked up
Don’t leave any valuables lying around – items such as jewellery and cash should be locked away or removed.
While platform guarantees may offer some protection against theft, the claims process may be lengthy requiring lots of proof, such as receipts and police reports, which is probably the last thing you’d want to be worrying about.
Kelly from Manly was surprised at what items were taken from her property.
"Over two seperate rentals I lost a new swimming costume, a fleece and a pair of shoes. Towels also went missing. The total cost was over $600, but I didn't have receipts for any of them because I'd had them for a while - it was pretty disappointing, and I didn't take a bond."
Take a security bond
Make it mandatory that guests have a security deposit/bond via the platform.
But remember, a bond is not a bullet-proof guarantee against loss.
For example, AirBnB hosts must prove the damage has been caused and AirBnB staff will make a decision about how much of the bond they can claim, which may not come close to covering the whole amount.
Plus if guests deny the damage, then it can be hard to prove they caused it.
Have additional insurance
It's important to know what cover your have – most sharing economy platforms offer some form of guarantee for hosts.
If you think that's not enough, then consider taking out insurance that's specifically for short term rentals.
ShareCover is a product that has been designed with hosts in mind, so you can get cover for events such as theft, damage and liability and only pay for the nights that your guests stay.