Can You Turn Your Vacation Home into an Airbnb?

Are you the proud owner of a vacation home? If so, you may be wondering if it's legal to rent it out to vacationers using online rental services such as Airbnb or VRBO. The answer depends on several factors, including the location of your home, the type of home you own, and how long you rent it. Additionally, if you rent (rather than own) your home, lease or rental restrictions may also come into play. Unfortunately, legal restrictions on short-term rentals can be confusing and vary from place to place. In addition, short-term rental websites offer minimal help to potential hosts to understand or comply with these laws.

When I was planning my first solo trip and looking for a vacation rental, I was drawn to the photos of a property in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. The Internal Revenue Service (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. Vacation rentals come in all shapes and sizes, from mobile homes and treehouses to mansions and villas, so make sure you know what you're getting. After a period of decreased travel due to the pandemic, demand for short-term vacation rentals is increasing again. While there are many vacation rental services available, TJ Clark, co-founder and president of TurnKey Vacation Rentals, recommends sticking with those that have a strong track record.

It's best to hire a cleaning company or employee who has experience cleaning hotels or vacation rentals; this type of cleaning has different challenges than traditional household cleaning. One of the most important decisions that vacation home owners face is whether to rent their property when they're away. Repp suggests that first-time renters may feel more comfortable in a hotel setting, so it might be a good idea to ease 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, Clark advises. Last year, people using the Vacasa platform booked vacations that were an average of 400 miles from their homes.

As I discovered through my own experience, vacation rental homes vary widely in terms of facilities, location, host interactions, and pricing.

Cathleen Testa
Cathleen Testa

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