How to create a standout rental space


We get it. Your home is your sanctuary. So, the idea of listing your place for rent can be a daunting one for most people. However, it’s worth having a look at the advantages of renting out your entire home or just part of it, depending on your living situation. 

If you’re willing to give it a shot, either for short or long-term stays, the chances are you could make some serious extra income. Once you’ve made the decision to rent out your space, whether it’s through Airbnb, HomeAway or another rental site, it’s time to figure out how to make it stand out in a crowd of online listings. 

There are plenty of things to do before your first guest arrives. Here’s a quick guide on how to get started and really maximize your earning potential.


Plan out your rental space


Staying in someone’s home, rather than in impersonal hotel or B&B, is a deciding factor for many guests. However, for the homeowner, it can create a dilemma about how many personal items to leave out and what to store away.  

One idea is to put personal items in a safe deposit box or rent an off-site storage space. If you need to leave valuable items on-property, find a way to lock them up in a dedicated closet or separate room that only you have access to. You’ll want to leave some personal touches so guests don’t feel like they are in a hotel. While guests appreciate amenities like Wifi or towels, most are looking forward to living like a local and will enjoy the quirks and comfort of your house.

Cleanliness is key. It can make or break a visit. Clean spaces make guests feel comfortable from the moment they arrive and show your commitment to making them feel welcome. Remember that guests can rate cleaning in their review; even if they don’t mention it specifically, a less-than-five-star rating could indicate that a bit more polish is needed.

Equip your home for guests


Let’s start with the basics: the bed. A comfortable bed with good pillows and high-quality sheets is a must. Add a pillowtop mattress topper and provide extra pillows and blankets to make it look and feel cozy and inviting. Guests who can’t sleep because of an uncomfortable bed aren’t going to leave a good review.

The bathroom should be stocked with extra toilet paper, tissues, a cleaning wand and a plunger. Personal care items should include staples — shampoo, conditioner and soap. None of this stuff needs to be high-end; everyday drugstore products are totally fine. Buying the amenities you’ll want to have on hand all the time in bulk will save you some money. 

Most guests will appreciate a welcome basket on arrival, but this doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Depending on the time of day, this might include cereals, water, cakes or a bottle of wine.

Sort out utilities and appliances


Repair, replace and renew where necessary. Think hotel standards, because that is what people are paying for when they rent a place, even for a night or two. 

Walkthrough your home as if you were a guest and ask yourself what you would like to see in the space if you were visiting. Are the plug sockets easy to find? Are they functioning? An iron and ironing board, hairdryer and umbrella are all popular and add to the overall experience. 

Thoughtful — but practical — touches, such as lamps by the beds and places to unwind, are a good idea for the space. And don’t forget to leave the Wi-Fi code! Not having a high-speed internet connection is a deal-breaker for many guests today.

Make it safe


Have a look around the space critically and with an eye toward safety. Are there any potential hazards, such as loose steps or exposed wires? Other hazards? Ensure all of these are fixed before you advertise for your first guest. 

While it may seem like the expenses are mounting during the preparation phase, it’s worth front-loading a lot of these costs to make sure you don’t have to pay further down the line. Other essentials include smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers as appropriate. These should all be functioning properly and the batteries checked on a regular basis. It’s always a good idea to have a well-stocked first-aid kit handy and easily accessible to the guests. 

Set the scene with photos


When it comes to creating your listing, photos are everything so be sure to use high-quality photos. Highlight what’s unique about your place - it will allow people to consider what gives you the edge and why they should choose you over other hosts. 

It’s also a good idea to include a photo or two of the surrounding area or some landmarks that are close by. Hiring a photographer for a one-off shoot could give you a competitive advantage here. Airbnb offers a free professional photographer to come and take photos of your apartment. An added bonus of using the site’s photographer is that then your photos and apartment are verified, which will result in more bookings. 

If you decide to take the photos yourself, make the most of your camera by standing in a corner of the room (pick the one with the most interesting view of the space) and lean yourself as much as possible into the wall. If possible, take advantage of openings into adjacent rooms and step just outside the room to get a wider shot. Avoid holding your camera too high and tilting down. Instead, hold the camera at about 5 feet off the ground and hold it level.

Encourage good feedback


When you take the time to make your space clean, comfortable and easy for your guests to enjoy, they will sing your praises in their reviews. Reviews are a great tool for both hosts and guests as they help users share their experiences with others. 

Additionally, leaving reviews for people encourages them to reciprocate by leaving their own commentary about their experience with you and your home. Often, once guests arrive back home and even though they have had a great experience, they may forget that they have an opportunity to express this on the site. Yet when they are reminded through your review submission, it will help jog their memory to comment about your place. 

Positive reviews also give you more exposure: your name and profile will appear more often, which allows potential renters to become familiar with your position as a host.