What you don’t know about renting your house or room

Renting a room out to stranger? Trying to make some cash on the side? Or, are you renting a room from a stranger to save some bucks? Either way, you’d better think it through before you do it. Here’s the stuff you need to know (for both renter and reenter).

The latest cool thing in hospitality is people renting out their houses, cottages, apartments, condos and even boats. And that’s great. But, it’s not like you sit back and just rake in the money.

First of all, check line 17 on the cherished IRS 1040 form: Rental Real Estate. The government (Federal, state, city and county) are all your partners (isn’t that special). And trust me, they are not doing the laundry or fixing that toilet.

Then there is the hard part, you are responsible for that space, and if you are not on call 24/7, you need to have someone who is to deal with everything from lost keys to no hot water, from smoke detectors going off to no Wi-Fi. Stuff happens, as they say. All the freaking time.

If you’re set on listing your apartment, think through a few of these questions:

  • Who is really cleaning the place (and are they washing those sheets every time?)?
  • What if the water-heater pilot goes out? Soundsational Amazing Grace Deck2

Sometimes it’s good to talk about this stuff. To take a peek behind the curtain, under the rug and behind the bedpost.

Gail Mandel, the CEO of Wyndham Vacation Rentals, will be glad to talk with you about this growing trend or rentals and what people (mostly women, they are the majority of the vacation planners and family chief fun officers) should do and ask before they close the door, pull down the sheets and and turn out the lights. If you want to hear about the good, bad and ugly of the sharing economy (as it relates to where you sleep, shower and let your hair down) you may want to chat with her. Gail brings the perspective of professionally managed rentals, which offers solutions to the problems mentioned above.

Look, there are some really great and cool accommodation rentals companies out there. We know that. But we also know what we tell our family, friends, neighbors and colleagues to ask before they go that route (with us or anyone else). And we’ll tell you, too.

1. Be your own private investigator
Check online maps to make sure the property address is legitimate and use the satellite view to see if the property matches the listing description.
2. Pay Securely and verify availability
Avoid rentals that demand payment via wire transfers or pre-paid cash cards. Insist on paying via credit card or PayPal so you have recourse to get your money back. It’s also important to find a vacation rental site that has real-time availability calendars to avoid the possibility of double-bookings.
3.  Rent from a Reputable Source 
Search for properties on established listing sites and book with names you recognize like well- known hospitality companies or local real estate and vacation rental management companies that have been servicing their communities for years. According to a new nationwide survey, conducted by Kelton Global, nearly 70% of 1,000 vacationers surveyed who have tried both ways, prefer renting a vacation home from a professional manager, over renting directly from an owner.
4. Buyer Beware – Fraudulent listings often offer aggressively low prices to attract would-be renters. If something doesn’t feel right or the deal seems too good to be true, proceed with caution.
5. Ask about On-site Customer Service 
What if your stove breaks in your rental and you just bough hundreds of dollars of food? Even worse, what if the person you booked with lives across the country and can’t be reached? Guests should ask whether there’s a local team on hand to take care of any issues that may arise.

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