Cash Cow or opening a can of worms? What to consider before becoming a short-term rental host

Limitations of short term Maine rentals.

When you hear about the potential boost to your bottom line that short-term rentals can provide, it may seem like an alluring opportunity. But business experts say it's not for everyone.

Airbnb reports that hosts using the home-sharing service earned a combined $26 million dollars just in Maine last year.  The company says on average, a Maine host earned $5,900 in extra income in 2016.

But there are risks associated with the rewards of renting your home on sites like VRBO.com, HomeAway.com and Airbnb.com. "You should think about it," warns University of Southern Maine business and marketing professor, Dr. Patricia Griffin. "Do I want strangers in my house? Do I want to run the risk of strangers breaking things or stealing things?," she asks. "It's always a potential problem. Always."

Some hosting platforms, like Airbnb, provide liability insurance for hosts, but others do not. Before you consider renting your home short-term, read you homeowners insurance policy carefully and contact your agent. Policies may cover damage from a renter if you are also living in the property at the time of the rental. However, insurance agents say most policies do not cover damage if you aren't living there.

Dr. Griffin says if short-term rentals are for you, marketing is key. She says make sure you have good pictures of the property and provide amenities that you would want if you were a visitor somewhere.

Copyright 2017 WCSH


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