Can a vacation home be an airbnb?

Owning a vacation home isn't just your own personal escape route from the real world. Is it legal to rent your home to vacationers using online rental services such as Airbnb or VRBO? It depends on several factors, such as the location of your home, the type of home you own, and how long you rent it. And if you rent (don't own) your home, lease or rental restrictions are also an issue. Unfortunately, legal restrictions on short-term rentals are not uniform and can be confusing.

In addition, short-term rental websites currently offer minimal help to potential hosts to understand or comply with these laws. It was my first time booking a vacation rental on a solo trip, and I had turned down offers to stay at friends' houses because I was so fascinated by the photos of this property I found in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. The IRS determines the tax treatment of a vacation home based on the number of days it is personally used and the number of days rented. Like hotels, vacation rentals vary in quality and amenities, from mobile homes and treehouses to mansions and villas, so know what you've signed up for.

After a hiatus during the beginning of the pandemic that abruptly stopped travel, demand for short-term vacation rentals is increasing again. While there is a wide range of vacation rental services, Clark advises sticking to those with a strong track record. It's best to hire a cleaning company or employee who has experience cleaning hotels or vacation rentals, who has different challenges than traditional household cleaning. One of the most important decisions that vacation home owners face, after deciding where to buy one, is whether to rent it during times when they are away.

Repp says she often sees first-timers who seem to be more comfortable in a hotel, so it might be a good idea to easily get into the vacation rental experience. Be sure to review the location description of your vacation rental and how close it is to the attractions you want to visit, TJ Clark, co-founder and president of TurnKey Vacation Rentals, tells Travel+ Leisure. Last year, people using the Vacasa platform booked vacations that, on average, were about 400 miles from their homes. As I discovered through this experience, vacation rental homes vary widely, not only in facilities and location, but also in host interactions and pricing.

Cathleen Testa
Cathleen Testa

Typical travel ninja. Hardcore food enthusiast. Evil webaholic. Avid internet expert. Unapologetic social mediaholic.