5 On Your Side

What to consider before listing your home for rent

Posted June 22

The online home rental business has exploded, giving vacationers access to someone else's home, whether it's at the beach or in the heart of the city.

The search for something besides a hotel created a $100 billion industry. Now, millions of people around the world list their homes for rent.

If you're thinking about turning your home into a hotel, though, here are a few things to consider first.

Websites like Airbnb, FlipKey and Homeaway make it easier than ever for homeowners to rent out their homes. That's what motivated Fred Nelson to post his Catskill, New York, vacation home online.

"I bought this as a vacation home, so the thought of renting it out to others who are looking for a vacation getaway made perfect sense," Nelson said. "That was kind of a no-brainer, to be able to list it on a site, and let other people enjoy it as well."

A survey by Consumer Reports found 75 percent of people who've never used a home rental service say they'd consider trying it.

If you plan to start renting your home, make sure it's legal.

"Vacation rentals aren't legal everywhere, so you've got to look into the local laws before you list your home," said Consumer Reports' Money Editor Lauren Lyons Cole.

In Raleigh, the subject had been debated for years. Because there are no City of Oaks ordinances for home rentals, they're essentially illegal, but for now owners aren't being fined.

To find out about your community reach out to your town or city hall. Also, call your accountant and insurance agent.

"When you're renting your home, you're essentially running a business, which means you've got to think about things like the type of insurance you need and whether or not you're going to owe taxes on the income you earn," Cole said.

As for Nelson, as long as renters keep coming, he'll keep posting online.

"I listed it maybe two weeks ago, it's booked up for the entire summer," Nelson said. "So, it can be a nice little way to supplement the income and help defray the mortgage, quite frankly."

Consumer Reports says three must-haves for making a rental home desirable are a keyless lock, a reliable coffee machine and a comfortable mattress.

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