Airbnb is an online marketplace that allows people to rent or sell lodging. Users all over the world have jumped on board.
The public can advertise spaces available for a short stay and in turn, Airbnb allows customers to rent out those spaces, which could be available anywhere from a couple of days to a month. There are literally hundreds of thousands of available spaces, from apartments and houses to castles, treehouses and boats. More than 34,000 cities boast 550,000 rooms globally.
In 2007, cofounders and roommates Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia couldn’t afford rent for their San Francisco apartment. Thus, they created a website and offered to rent out space in their apartment; they got three people — and an idea was born. Five years later, the company is nearly worth a $10 billion.
Here are the steps to our Airbnb guide.
Joining Airbnb is free for everyone, whether you’re looking to sell or rent a space. You can either create a login and account with your email address, or you can connect Airbnb to your Facebook or Google+ account.
There are many ways to fill out your profile. However, there are different requirements for both renters and hosts:
Hosts: You must add a profile picture. There are also various verification options, which help prove to potential guests that Airbnb has vetted your account and proven your legitimacy. You can verify your phone number via the steps provided on Airbnb’s site. You can also verify your ID, which means you’ve provided Airbnb with a verified email address, phone number, profile picture and ID.
Guests: In some instances, guests may be required to have a verified ID. If you’re making a last-minute reservation, you’ll have to get verified. Airbnb also randomly samples users and asks them to verify their IDs.
Guests and hosts can also write and receive reviews, which are limited to 500 words. If you wish, you can post a response to a review. For hosts, the response will show up under a listing; it’ll show up under a profile for a guest.
How to rent
After you log in, go to Airbnb’s homepage. It will prompt you to search for a location, a beginning and end date, and the number of guests looking for lodging.
The site will then pull up all the available listings. If available, you can further specify your requests, such as looking for an entire apartment, a single room or a shared room, as well as maximum and minimum pricing.
Once you see a space that interests you, there are a few options for the next step:
Add it to your wish list: This is helpful if you like the place, but aren’t sure yet if it’s the one. It’ll get saved onto your wish list so you can revisit it.
Contact host: This option allows you to reach out to the host with any questions or concerns. If want more information about the space from your host, feel free to contact him or her.
Request to book: If you’re set on a place, you can make a request to the host to book it for you. That automatically takes you to the payment page, on which you put down your credit card information and can also write the host a little message about yourself.
If you see a place that seems sketchy, you can flag it. This will alert Airbnb moderators, who can check up on the space.
How to sell
Once you have an account set up, you can go to the homepage and select “List Your Space,” located in the upper righthand corner. It will prompt you to specify space details, such as the home and room type (for example, an apartment with one available room), as well as location and how many people you’re willing to accommodate.
Now it’s time to fill out the details. From there, you can set up pricing per night, write an overview of the space, list amenities and add photos.
For those lacking photography skills, Airbnb has a team of photographers who will come and snap professional pics of your space, free of charge. Anyone with a verified email address and phone number is eligible, though the service isn’t always available.
Once someone sees your space and decides to rent it, you’ll have total control of guest approval.
Payment and expected fees
Pricing at Airbnb is completely conducted by the hosts. The payment options vary, but theyinclude major credit, debit and prepaid cards, PayPal, and Google Wallet.
Here are the fees you can expect as a guest:
Security deposit: Guests will have to pay a security deposit, which is set by the host. That’s to help cover incidents incurred during a stay, such as a broken item or unreturned key.
Service fee: Airbnb charges guests a 6% – 12% fee whenever they book a service.
Cleaning fee: Hosts have the option of charging this in order to clean their space for a guest.
Here are the fees you can expect as a host:
Service fee: Airbnb charges hosts a 3% fee for services rendered on its site. It will be taken out of the reservation subtotal.
Hosts can receive their final payment in a variety of ways: ACH/direct deposit, bank transfer or international wire, PayPal, Western Union, Payoneer, or mailed check.
There are quite a few cities up in arms about Airbnb’s casual approach to the travel industry. The State of New York is against Airbnb because it enables people to make money without paying hotel taxes. In addition, landlords do not want to be held liable for incidents that occur from people who are not legally tied to the home.
In addition, New York lawmakers say using Airbnb could be in conflict with your leasing agreement, and is contributing to the rising cost of living in New York City. San Francisco, Montreal, Berlin and other major cities are on the same bandwagon.
There have also been a fair number of crimes in Airbnb-rented spaces. According to Fox News, here are a few notable ones:
A woman rented a home in Oakland, California, but turned out to be a meth addict. She trashed the house and stole the homeowner’s birth certificate.
A San Francisco woman renting out her apartment came back to find it totally wrecked. Her camera, iPod, laptop and external backup drive were stolen, her kitchen was destroyed, and furniture had been creepily rearranged.
Two women in Stockholm who rented out their apartment for one month came home to find out it had been used as a brothel.
Airbnb does not conduct background checks on anyone who uses the service. However, there are millions of people who have successfully used the site as both guests and hosts. It’s important to utilize the reviews and responses offered by the site. Airbnb also has an incredibly detailed help center, which can guide you as you use the site for the first time.
Do you have any airBnB stories to share?
This article has been adapted and originally appeared on Mashable.