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What do I need to know about home sharing sites like Airbnb?

Home sharing sites like Airbnb are online services through which someone offers to rent their home or a portion of their home. Airbnb listings are popular lodging options for travelers on a budget as well as property owners seeking extra income. But before you decide to be a guest in someone's home or open your door to strangers as the host, there are some things to consider.

An Airbnb listing may be an affordable option if you want to cut lodging costs, but it could mean you have to do more research before your trip than you might for more conventional accommodations. Be specific when conducting your initial search and narrow down locations according to your budget, number of guests, length of stay, and space requirements. This will help you find a match that best suits your needs. Check the ratings and reviews carefully to determine whether the location and property work for you. Think about researching neighborhoods outside of reviews--you can't always trust their accuracy, and you want to be sure you're staying in a place that meets your expectations. Once you have a few viable options, contact your prospective hosts with any questions you might have.

During your search, be wary of scams. Make sure you're booking via a legitimate Airbnb service with verifications that you're dealing with real hosts. By using caution and common sense in the booking process, you might save yourself some trouble down the road.

If you want to rent out your property as an Airbnb host, the first thing you should do is check with your landlord or homeowners association (if applicable). It's important to know any rules that might affect you. Next, consider the costs of hosting. Can you afford to provide clean linens, towels, and other amenities to your guests? Are you able to keep up with cleaning and maintenance of your property? Are you prepared to pay possible hosting fees to your booking service? Do you have appropriate insurance coverage, or will you need to purchase more?

Don't forget that renting out your property may have tax consequences. Talk to a tax professional to learn specific details.

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, legal, or retirement advice or recommendations. The information presented here is not specific to any individual's personal circumstances. To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances. These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable — we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2020.