When my roommate proposed and moved out, we listed our spare bedroom on AirBnB. Suffice it to say, I was pretty skeptical. Strangers in my home, all the time? Is that even safe? Is it legal?
The short answer is yes, home-sharing is still legal in New York City (although operating entire AirBnB "ghost hotels" is not). And while there are many AirBnB horror stories out there, everyone we talked to seemed to have had positive experiences - I'd even rented an AirBnB myself, and had only great experiences. The allure of cheaper rent finally convinced me to give it a try, and it's honestly been a great decision.
We've met some incredible people from around the world, like the illustrator who drew a full-page Spider-Man cartoon in our guestbook. Or the German couple who became such good friends, they sent us a houseplant to say thank you. But for every handful of guests, there's always a few that just don't get it.
Don't be like them. If you're thinking of renting an AirBnB sometime soon, here's our top five ways to be a great AirBnB guest, from a seasoned host who's experienced just about everything...Yes, these examples really happened to me!
Don't use your host's personal items
If you're renting a room in someone's home, standard protocol is that you have free rein over your room, and can use the common areas. Check your AirBnB listing for specifics, but expect to be provided with towels and to have access to the fridge and basic kitchen utensils. This does not mean you can eat your host's food, use their bathroom products, or wear their clothes. No, you cannot eat my leftovers. No, you cannot borrow my grandmother's vintage fur coat in the hall closet. No, you cannot try on my shoes. You are a guest in their home, not my sister! So, use your best judgement, and if you're unsure, just ask.
Respect quiet times
Do you want to be woken up to a screaming argument at 4:30 in the morning? Neither does your host. While you may feel it necessary to celebrate the life of Avicii by blasting EDM for hours at a time (may he rest in peace), your host might not feel the same affinity for heart-thumping beats on a weeknight. All AirBnB rentals will include designated quiet hours within the listing, and usually ask that you keep the noise level down after 10 or 11 at night and before 6 or 7 in the morning. Be a respectful guest, and save your noisy activities for daylight hours, or outside the AirBnB.
Respect everyone's space (don't leave your stuff around)
Your host should have provided plenty of space for you to unpack and hang out in your room. And while you're usually welcome to relax in the common spaces, remember what mama always told you; pick up after yourself! Your host doesn't want to see your dirty retainer lounging on the bathroom sink, nor do they want to come home from work to find a pile of your clothes in the kitchen. Keep your things contained to your room and everyone will be happy.
Check out at checkout
Don't make your host hunt you down. If checkout time is 11am, that means you're expected to be out the door and on your way by 11am. If that doesn't happen, your host has the right to ask you to leave so they can clean and prepare the room for their next guest. Don't make them have that awkward conversation. Be considerate; don't take advantage of your host by overstaying your welcome. Be prepared to leave on time.
Communicate and read instructions
Life happens! Your host will usually understand if you need to use some of their toothpaste, make a phone call in the living room after quiet hours, or borrow an umbrella. The important thing is to familiarize yourself with their expectations by actually reading the house rules on the AirBnB listing. Communicate any unforeseen issues with your host. Just like borrowing your sister's clothing, it's almost always okay as long as you ask first. It can never hurt to ask!
At the end of the day, this boils down to the golden rule; treat your AirBnB the way you'd want friends to treat your apartment. Your hosts probably live in the space as their primary residence, and need to continue about their lives while you're staying there. Be a respectful guest and you just might walk away with an incredible home stay, and some new friends!