So you live in Toronto, home of the CN Tower, Casa Loma, the Distillery District and the Royal Ontario Museum. Home of NBA Finals champions, the Toronto Raptors!
Have you thought about becoming an Airbnb host? Show visitors some of that famous Canadian hospitality! C’mon, you’re from the home of Drake — and poutine!
Thousands of Airbnb hosts list places in and around Toronto, according to data from the home sharing platform.
“During the summer months — June, July and August — we get a lot of tourists,” says Rahim Lalani, a 30-year-old Airbnb Superhost. “But a lot of other things here are seasonal — big conferences, sporting events, an international film festival every September.”
Between attractions like the Toronto Zoo and annual events like the Toronto Jazz Festival, there’s often a high demand for space.
In a region that’s so expensive to live in, home sharing can be a great way to supplement your income. If you’re curious to see how much money you could make by listing your Toronto space, follow our step-by-step guide to set up a listing in the Toronto area.
How to Create the Best Airbnb Listing in Toronto
Before becoming an Airbnb host, you’ll want to check your local laws and prepare your space for guests. (We’ll get into that later.) Creating a listing itself is simple, but you’ll want to put some thought into it, so your space stands out from all the others.
We’ll walk you through the process, plus share some pro tips from Lalani, who lists his downtown Toronto condo whenever he goes out of town. He’s been hosting for five years.
Answer Some Quick Questions About Your Space/Amenities
In this first part of setting up your listing, you’ll answer some basic questions about your space, which could be anything — an apartment, an extra bedroom or house, a campsite, yurt or even an RV, depending on your local laws.
Basic questions in this section include the number of guests your space can accommodate and the included amenities.
If you don’t have an entire place, list your spare room.
Set the Scene With Photos
Toronto’s Distillery District includes condos, apartments, shops, art galleries, restaurants and bars. Getty Images
With Airbnb listings, photos are everything.
“Use high-quality photos that show off not just the regular things that most people capture — the bedroom, the bathroom. Highlight what’s unique about your specific place,” Lalani advises. “Think about why people are going to choose you over all the other hosts in Toronto. What gives you that edge?”
The platform offers some basic photo tips, which include utilizing natural light, avoiding flash and shooting in landscape mode from the corners of rooms, so you add perspective.
Think about what makes your space and your location appealing, and illustrate those elements through photos. You might also include photos of the surrounding neighborhood and nearby tourist attractions.
Write a Description
Once you hook people with your photos, continue to lead them through your listing with the description.
Here, you’ll be able to highlight what makes your space unique. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at other Airbnb listings in your area to see what other hosts highlight.
After you host several guests, you’ll get to know your audience, so you can lean into that.
“Ask yourself, what’s the type of experience that you want to give people? Then build your listing and your profile around that experience,” Lalani says.
Maybe you’re just offering a cheap price to travelers who don’t care about the amenities and just want a place to sleep. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as guests know what to expect.
Name Your Listing
This might seem like a small task, but naming your listing is just as important as nailing your photos. Airbnb urges hosts to create a title that highlights what’s unique about the space.
Toronto hosts often include their specific neighborhood in their listing. You’ll see lots of listings with names like “Bright Downtown Studio” or “Suite in Entertainment District.”
“Think about the headline — what’s going to capture someone’s attention in five seconds?” Lalani says. “Your listing will appear with thousands of others. If the copy isn’t catchy and the pictures aren’t attractive, you have no chance of getting someone to your page.”
Set House Rules
Airbnb has a set list of rules you can opt into if you’d like them included in your listing. A few of these include: suitable for pets, smoking not allowed, and events or parties not allowed. You also have the option to write in additional rules.
Lalani, who only lists his condo when he’s going out of town, requires a minimum stay of two nights.
“I don’t do one-night stays because they’re just not worth my time,” he says.
Set up Your Calendar
Taking time to set up your calendar is important, because if you cancel on your guests, Airbnb will charge you a penalty fee.
A few questions you’ll answer include:
- How often do you want to have guests?
- How much notice do you need before a guest arrives?
- When can guests check in?
- How far in advance can guests book?
- How long can guests stay?
You’ll be able to adjust these settings as you go, so you can find out what works best for you.
Price Your Space
Airbnb has a Smart Pricing tool, which you can opt into to automatically adjust the price of your listing according to demand. For example, when the demand spikes during Toronto Beer Week every November, Airbnb will likely increase the price of your listing automatically.
You can set price minimums and maximums, so your listing won’t dip below a certain amount or spike to something unrealistic. Although Airbnb will suggest these amounts when you’re signing up, Lalani urges new hosts to do their own research.
Here are a few tips to help you determine these numbers:
- Consider your expenses, i.e. utilities, cleaning and any maintenance requirements.
- Be realistic.
- Search other Airbnb listings in your area and price just below those.
When you’re starting out, you’ll want to price your place lower, so you can get guests in and accumulate reviews, which will help increase bookings in the long run.
Lalani says he’s able to charge considerably more per night for his downtown condo during high season or for special events.
Note Your Local Laws
Yorkville is an upscale shopping and dining area of downtown Toronto. Getty Images
You’re almost done setting up your listing! Now Airbnb will remind you to familiarize yourself with your local laws.
Toronto passed regulations that are likely to take effect in the fall of 2019. The regulations allow for primary residences to be used as short-term rentals so long as they comply with a registration process and are rented out no more than 180 nights per year.You also have to pay a 4% tax on your rental income.
In addition to hosting laws, you’ll also want to check with your homeowners association or landlord to make sure short-term rentals are permitted.
Also note that short-term rentals could invalidate some homeowner’s insurance, so check these policies with your provider.
As you start booking guests, you’ll also want to keep tabs on expenses and revenue for tax purposes.
Remember to take advantage of tax deductions. Because you’ll have guests staying in your space, check with a tax advisor to see what you might be able to deduct as a business expense.
Ready to Give This Whole Hosting Thing a Try?
How are you feeling? Like we said, listing your place on Airbnb is simple — but it does require some creativity and strategy. The good news is you can adjust or change your information and settings at any time, so you’re not locked into anything permanently.
Lalani’s favorite part of hosting has been all the interesting people he’s met.
“I get to meet some really awesome people,” he says. “That’s definitely one of the reasons I keep hosting — the chance to meet people from all over the world.”
Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.