Lessons from an Astoria man who made $18,000 on Airbnb--legally

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Airbnb has been in the news a lot lately, what with New York State's attorney general battling the company in court and the site vowing to become a legal hotel and start paying city and state taxes.

Still, plenty of apartment-dwelling hosts who rent out their spare bedrooms are staying within the boundaries of the law--as in the case of Michael Naess, a 37-year-old Astoria bachelor profiled by the New York Times

Naess is living in the apartment at the same time as his paying guests, with all areas of the apartment accessible to said guest. That means he's legally profiting off Airbnb, even filing 1099 tax forms, and gaining an international assortment of friends in the process. Oh yeah, he's also made almost $18,000 renting the unfancy second bedroom of his two-bedroom condo for $85 a night.

So, in Naess' eyes, what does it take to be a stellar Airbnb host?

  • To make foreign guests feel more at home, try streaming their local radio and TV stations.
  • Consider requiring a minimum stay, maybe two nights, and offer a discount if people book for a week or a month.
  • Set clear ground rules, e.g. no smoking or late-night parties.
  • Consider leaving a snack basket in the guest room with granola bars, nuts, and so on.
  • Tape a city subway map to the wall or leave one in the room for guests to consult.
  • Don't be afraid to use Google Translate when things get complicated with your non-anglophone guests.

Tempted to follow in Naess's foosteps?  Click here for more great hosting tips--such as, being totally honest about how many stairs your guests will have to climb to reach your apartment. 


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