Over the past thirteen months, Braden and I have lived almost exclusively in Airbnbs or similar vacation rentals. We’ve stayed in some great rentals and some… adequate ones. We’ve been lucky to avoid any major issues, but the tiny annoyances have been many – from broken towel racks, to poorly equipped kitchens, noisy neighbors, and challenging parking situations.
With over 365 Airbnb-nights under our belts, I wanted to put together my thoughts on what we look for in a rental and what owners should do to equip their units in a way that makes it attractive to longer-term renters.
It’s been obvious in some places that the owner hasn’t ever spent a night in the place, because they’re missing a few essentials – such as the place we rented for our week-long stay in Charleston. What use is a kitchen if there’s no baking sheet, spatula, or can opener? No one travels with their own can opener.
Most of our apartments have been surface-level fine, but before too long we would run into this kind of frustration. Like the water pressure at our place in Pittsburgh was ridiculously low, and the maintenance guy could not figure out a fix. The wifi was also a major problem in PGH. Here in Minneapolis they have awful flickering lights because they’ve fitted energy efficient light bulbs on to dimmer switches. Charleston and Salt Lake City were both lacking a can opener. Numerous places didn’t have a broom and dust pan… it’s not something you’d miss during a short stay, but after a few days you need to sweep something up!
None of these things are considered amenities so they’re not included on a checklist when owners are setting up their Airbnb profile. Plus, a lot of Airbnb users seem reluctant to leave anything less than a 4 or 5 star review – so they review the neighborhood instead of saying anything negative about the apartment itself. “Great location! Walking distance to an ice cream shop. 5 stars.” Read: I saw a mouse in the kitchen once.
I’ve put together a list of commonly-forgotten items that every Airbnb needs, based on what has been missing in several of our rentals over the last year.
Kitchen: Aside from the obvious (plates, cups, silverware, coffee mugs, cereal bowls, and pots & pans) these are the basic kitchen tools that tenants need for a longer stay.
- Can opener!
- Baking sheet
- Mixing bowl
- Measuring cup and spoons
- Serving spoon and/or spatula
- Casserole dish
- Bedside table with lamp
- Outlets so you can plug your phone in next to the bed
- Towel rack or hooks
- 2 sets of keys – or a smart lock with code
- Smoke detectors! Please have smoke detectors.
- Cleaning supplies (broom and dustpan, all-purpose spray)
- Lights that work in every room
- Window coverings
Video: the shower situation in our Pittsburgh apartment. It was never clear whether it was a problem with the city water supply or the building’s plumbing.
Some other constructive feedback from a long-term Airbnb renter:
Do a deep cleaning every now and then. A lot of places are described as “sparkling clean” when they are not. It looks clean for the first 10 minutes after you walk in, but then you notice the grimy cabinets and doors, dusty window blinds, etc. We haven’t encountered anything truly disgusting, but I have spent a lot of time mopping bathroom floors, replacing mildewed shower curtains, and wiping greasy kitchen surfaces. It grates a little in light of the $100+ cleaning fees that many Airbnb listings tack on. If I were running an Airbnb, I would spring for a deep cleaning at least a couple times a year.
Clear out miscellaneous junk. Make sure there’s some space in the cabinets and closets. This hasn’t been a big problem in most places, but at our place in Montreal, there was a ton of storage space… which was completely filled with junk (old tourism brochures, useless kitchen gadgets, etc.). We were there for two months – it would have been nice to put some of our own stuff away in those cabinets.
Don’t cheap out on the Wifi plan. Don’t try to share one wifi setup between multiple apartments or (yikes) the whole building. Charge more if you need to – just don’t try to save money by skimping on this essential.