Renting your property on sites like Airbnb can be a great way to make extra money. However, some risks come with home-sharing, so it's important to research and think carefully before taking the plunge.
Not only could your guests cause damage to your home, but you may also be liable for any injuries or damage that occurs to someone else's property during a stay. When renting out your home, it's essential to be aware of possible liabilities, such as the following:
Facing Personal Injury Lawsuits
The potential of a lawsuit is a serious threat; even if you have done everything possible to secure your home, it is possible that a guest could claim they have been hurt, gotten sick, or lost something while there. Taking care of such a legal issue can be costly in terms of money and time, regardless of the case's merits.
The best way to protect yourself from potential harm is to ensure you're adequately insured. Airbnb provides liability insurance of up to $1 million to provide additional protection; however, it is recommended that you purchase your insurance for more comprehensive coverage.
The Airbnb terms of service include a number of disclaimers and other information that shift responsibility away from Airbnb and onto you as the homeowner. To use the website's protection, hosts must meet numerous requirements listed in the website's fine print. The fine print was so long that it took up more than 70 pages when copied and pasted into a word-processing program.
Damaging Another’s Property
If a visitor to your home causes damage to another person's property, you could be responsible for the costs. This is particularly important in multi-unit buildings, where a fire or flood could cause severe injury or extensive damage.
In cases where the amount of money that Airbnb provides as insurance coverage is not enough, getting additional insurance with a higher coverage limit is best to ensure you are appropriately protected.
When using a home-sharing service, you should look into potential guests before renting your property. For example, Airbnb allows hosts to post comments from previous guests, which you should read before agreeing to rent your space.
Breaking the Law
Some states, cities, and towns have specific rules and regulations concerning renting dwellings. If you are not present during the rental and the guest does not have access to the entire living space, you may be in violation of these regulations. Breaking the law could result in hefty fines.
If you make an agreement that goes against a law in your area, it may not be enforced. Airbnb requires those providing a service to ensure they follow local regulations. Renting out your home through Airbnb might be allowed, but you should still check the local laws first to make sure. If you choose to do it without confirming this, your neighbors may report you if they see people coming and going from your home, especially if there is a lot of noise or disturbance.
In some areas, Airbnb will collect the occupancy tax for you. In other places, you'll have to take care of it yourself. Airbnb hosts must provide their taxpayer information, and those who made more than $20 thousand from their rental activity could receive a tax document from the platform at the end of the year. Federal and state income taxes have to be paid on the total amount you earned.
If you're considering renting out your home via Airbnb, it is crucial to be aware of the risks that come with it. Consider the potential drawbacks, and if you still decide to proceed, do your best to protect yourself from potential liabilities.
Do your research and understand your area's laws and regulations related to home rental. You should also be aware of any taxes you may be responsible for and any agreements you signed when renting the home. Finally, make sure you read and understand the terms and conditions of the website you are using for home-sharing.
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