Hosting an Airbnb can be a great way for retirees to generate income after they stop working. According to an Airbnb survey, the typical host in the U.S. earned over $13,800 in 2021, representing an increase of 85 percent over 2019.

Hosting home sharing experiences using websites like Airbnb and Vrbo (Vacation Rental By Owner) is easier and safer than ever, and there are some great benefits to hosting while in retirement. New Airbnb hosts earned a total of $1.8 billion in 2021, and as Airbnb host incomes are rising, seniors can get in on the action.

Hosts can choose to rent out their entire home or individual guest rooms. This makes hosting a great option for retirees – whether you’re looking to meet new people, rent out a vacation home that goes unused most of the year or make some extra cash while you’re having your own adventures.

Retirement is a great time to become an Airbnb host

Retirement is one of the best times to take advantage of Airbnb and VRBO services. By hosting, you can make some extra cash on top of your fixed income while helping travelers make the most of their experiences. Retirees can even fund their own vacation by using a travel reward cards alongside the money made from renting out their home.

Seniors claim the number one reason they host is for financial gain. Other reasons include staying socially connected, meeting new people and keeping active. Airbnb even explains that many senior hosts “now say that the social benefits have contributed to a renewed sense of purpose.”

The benefits of hosting are substantial, but how do you get started?

Becoming an Airbnb home-sharing host

If you’re curious about how to become an Airbnb host or Vrbo host, signing up is relatively simple. All you have to do is go through their online process for listing your home. You’ll answer questions about your home and why guests would like it, choose your availability, set house rules, list your rent prices and more.

The process is easy to navigate on both sites, and both companies offer dedicated support teams to help answer any questions, 24/7.

How much can you earn on Airbnb?

The price of a listing is entirely up to the host. Both Airbnb and Vrbo have pricing tools that help first-time hosts determine the average listing prices of experiences similar to theirs. Furthermore, both services work on a commission-based system, meaning there is no up-front cost to setting up an account and listing your home on their sites.

Preparing your home for Airbnb

Both Airbnb and Vrbohave expectations for hosts, though these expectations are mainly just common courtesy requests.

  • If you become a host, you should be able to respond to questions or reservation requests within 24 hours.
  • Provide accurate listing details.
  • Try not to cancel guest reservations without reason.
  • Treat guests with respect.
  • Provide basic amenities to guests, including toilet paper, soap, linens, sheets, towels and pillows.
  • Perform basic cleaning services and turnover (replace linens and clear out trash) between guests.

If you are unable to provide cleaning services yourself, you can always add a cleaning fee to your listing price that covers the cost of a professional cleaning service.

Other factors to consider as a home sharing host

While it doesn’t cost anything to list a property, there are some associated costs with getting your home or rental property host-ready.

Security measures

While reputable home-sharing services hold their users to a high standard of behavior – many offer liability insurance to cover theft or damage charges – you should still lock away important documents and expensive items. It’s also a good idea to get a lockbox installed for safe and easy check-in.

Home Owners Association (HOA) requirements

If your home or rental has an HOA agreement, there might be specific rules on minimum or maximum stay requirements, parking, number of guests allowed and more. You may not be able to rent out your home, condo or apartment, depending on these specific restrictions. HOAs are only permitted to have a certain number of units rented within a certain development. Always check with your HOA before you list a home on Airbnb.

If you’re unable to rent out your home because of an HOA restriction, Airbnb offers another option for hosting. You can sign up to host an Experience, which is where locals can host activities to help travelers make the most of their trips.

Cleaning services

As discussed above, one of the host expectations of all reputable home-sharing services is a good turnover process and cleaning between stays. If you’re able to clean, this is a relatively low cost to take into consideration. However, if there’s a reason why you cannot provide these services yourself, you’ll need to make arrangements with a third-party cleaning or maid service.

Most guests are willing to pay extra if it means the space they’re renting is sparkling clean, so you should consider adding this expense to your listing price. If you’re up front with guests about why the cost of your rental is higher than others, most will be understanding and have no qualms about paying extra.

Tax implications for home-share hosts

Renting property is considered part of your yearly income in the eyes of the IRS. Depending on the home sharing service you used to rent out your home, you might receive a Form 1099-K (Payment Card and Third Party Network Transactions) or an earnings summary that reports the gross amount of rent earned during the calendar year.

You’ll need to declare any income on your tax filings for each year. H&R Block has a guide on how to report Airbnb hosting income on your taxes.

Social Security implications for retiree Airbnb hosts

Retirees living off a fixed income will need to pay special attention to how much supplemental income hosting adds to their taxes, as well as what type of rental their home counts as. If you earn too much income, it could put Social Security disability benefits in jeopardy.

If you aren’t performing any work on the property or you use a third-party service to clean and make repairs, you can report your income to the IRS as passive income on Schedule E, Supplemental Income and Loss. Social Security doesn’t include passive income to determine benefits.

However, if you are personally performing upkeep on your property, your income is classified as self-employment. Income over certain thresholds can prevent you from qualifying for Social Security benefits.

Other tips for hosting on Airbnb

The happier renters are with their stay, the more likely they are to leave a positive review. The more positive reviews your property earns, the more travelers will justify paying a higher fee to stay at your property. So you can maximize your potential earnings by helping your renters have the best possible stay.

Here are a few easy ways to take your rental listing over the top:

  • Post great photos of your listing. A picture is worth a thousand words, and great photos of your home can be the difference between someone booking your rental or passing it over for someone else’s. Most smartphones can take great photos, but you can research tips on how to make your phone photos shine.
  • Give guests a welcome basket. Having a seasonal basket filled with local goodies and tips for enjoying their stay can go a long way in helping guests feel welcomed.
  • Cook dinner one night. If you are renting out a portion of your home instead of the entire thing, offer to cook dinner for your renters one night. They’ll feel more welcome, and it’s a great way to get to know who is staying with you.
  • Provide at-home entertainment. Most travelers won’t spend every second of every day out and about. Leaving some of your favorite books, games or movies out for guests can help them unwind after a long day of exploring. You can also leave a scrapbook of your favorite adventures, which can help renters get to know their hosts.

Protecting yourself as an Airbnb host

While the vast majority of the guests you’ll host will be absolutely amazing, you need to prepare for the possibility of having some not-so-fantastic renters. Airbnb, Vrbo and other reputable home share services offer hosts protection, such as liability insurance, but you can take other steps to ensure your personal and financial safety as a host.

  • Set house rules. Be upfront with guests about what they can and cannot do while they stay at your listing.
  • Keep important documents locked away. If you don’t want guests to see certain documents or have access to certain things, it’s best to keep them locked away.
  • Hold or forward your mail. If you’re going to be away while guests stay at your place, it’s a good idea to hold or forward your mail so that any important, private documents don’t fall into the wrong hands.
  • Choose your guests wisely. Set up your account so that you can accept and decline each reservation. That way you can screen potential guests before they officially book your listing.

Bottom line

Hosting your home or leading an Experience on Airbnb and similar websites can be a great way for retirees to meet new people, stay socially connected with others and make supplemental income. As long as you take the right precautions and do what you can to provide a relaxing and safe environment for your guests, you can make hundreds to thousands of dollars in passive income to help fund your next adventure or add a cushion to your savings.

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