making a fortune off airbnb
Under new city rules, anyone can turn their home into a part-time hotel. Here’s who’s doing it and how much they’re making
Paul and Meg moved into this fourbedroom, sevenbathroom modern home with their infant daughter last July. But the place often sat empty, because they’re out of town at least 15 weekends a year, spending time at family cottages in Collingwood or Muskoka.
After a few friends who crashed at their place last summer raved about the experience, Paul and Meg listed the house on Airbnb and set out to make it even more appealing. They turned the backyard into a multifunctional rubber sports court (it’s got space for ball hockey and basketball, with nets for badminton in the summer) and installed a hot tub and gas-burning firepit on the roof—all to further entice potential renters.
Now, they’re overwhelmed with requests. They’ve started refusing rentals of fewer than five days to curb demand.
linda had wanted to own a Victorian home since she was in her 20s. She opened her antique store, Putti Fine Furnishings, in Rosedale in 1994. A few years later, she finally bought her dream house. She and her husband, Martin Dwyer, spent years filling it with an eclectic assortment of art, furniture and decor.
About three years ago, after Martin’s death, the home started to seem too big—and too expensive— for one person. Eventually, Linda decided to Airbnb the space. “It was the perfect solution for me, since I wasn’t ready to give up my house,” she says. She lives there parttime, when she’s not travelling to England to visit family and stock up on items for the shop. Her second-ever guest, a 20-something guy who stayed with seven friends for Caribana, trashed the place, but Airbnb paid for the damage. So far, the rest of her renters have been more considerate.
last spring, tullio bought a threebedroom, 19thcentury row house to use as his bachelor pad. He travels a lot—he regularly visits family in Italy, and likes to go on hunting and fishing adventures—so he renovated with Airbnbing in mind. To him, that meant making the place look stylish, but not investing in super-expensive furnishings and art, in case of unruly visitors. To charm guests, he gave the bedrooms themes. There’s a 1980s room, with pop-art posters and geometric decor, and an underwater room, with blue furnishings and a trio of aquatic-themed sculptures hanging on the wall.
After a few months and $120,000 in upgrades, including a full basement renovation and the installation of some new tile flooring, Tullio was ready to rent. Because he lives by himself, he doesn’t have to do much decluttering before guests arrive.
Jeff and Jil bought their home, a 1,300-square-foot, two-bedroom unit in the Wrigley Lofts, about four years ago. Among their additions: a rainfall showerhead, new kitchen cabinetry, an ethanol fireplace and a ceiling bicycle rack. In 2015, Jeff convinced Jil to list their place on Airbnb when they embarked on one of their frequent backpacking excursions.
Jil initially wasn’t thrilled to be renting out their home, so Jeff assured her safety would be his priority. For their first few renters, he secured his entire booze collection and any item of value in a locker they hid in the closet. Now, he screens potential guests by asking a ton of questions before he’ll rent to them.
At the moment, to avoid the hassles associated with extended stays, they rent the space mostly for day-long photo shoots.
Meg Ryley and her husband, Paul Peterson, make about $60,000 per year renting out their Leaside home
Linda removed a few of her favourite objects before renting her house but left most of the space intact.
Her favourite things on the main floor are the framed dried plants that surround the fireplace. She found them in the south of France.
The home has original stainedglass windows from the 1800s.
The daybeds are from Oly Studio. A drunk bridesmaid renter once flung herself onto one to get in on a photo op and broke it.
She has a key to a drawer in the bathroom and another to a locked closet where she keeps a few clothes.
He keeps the freezer stocked with pizzas for guests to eat in a pinch. He’ll also sometimes leave some moose meat for them to sample.
There are Bose speakers on all three floors.
The loft is his bedroom, and it’s where he keeps personal belongings, like his clothes and artwork his daughter made.
The 1980s room is Tullio’s favourite. It has a trundle bed.
A Nova Scotian artist carved the coffee table from an enormous tree trunk.
They built or restored most of the furniture themselves, and added rustic pieces of decor and subtly nautical touches, like this oar.
All they did for guests was buy an extra set of sheets and towels for them to use.
They don’t lock anything away when they have guests. “If we have people stay, we trust them to treat it like their home,” Jeff says.