apartment airbnb

Renting out a home on a short-term basis through Airbnb or Craigslist is a great way to earn extra cash, but too often people get stuck when trying to figure out what to do with all their stuff. If you don’t know which possessions should be moved out of sight, what should be locked away and which items definitely need to be available to your guests, keep reading for some professional tips on organizing your home before the renters arrive.

1. Safeguard Your Valuables.

Whether your most valuable possession is a turn-of-the-century antique or your high school class ring, chances are you have some items in your home that you want to keep safe. The easiest strategy is to designate an area in your home that’s inaccessible to your guests and that has room for your high-value possessions.

“Install a lock on a closet or two,” advised Seana Turner, a professional organizer in Darien, CT.

If that’s not an option, consider storing important items off-site in a safe deposit box, in the home of a trusted friend, or—if you have larger valuables—in a self-storage unit.

2. Protect Your Damage-Prone Items.

Jewelry and artwork are fairly easy to lock up, but it doesn’t always make sense to move or put away certain items.

Janis Fisher Chan, a writer and editor at travelonthehouse.com, has been renting out her home for more than 15 years and faced this issue with some of her furnishings.

“We have white carpets and white furniture, and a dining room table that can be easily scratched,” she said. To prevent damage, she simply asks her guests to be careful around certain pieces of furniture and to place a cover over the table.

white carpet

Be sure to protect damage-prone items, such as white carpet.

She also requires renters to pay a large damage deposit, just in case.

“Purchase enough insurance coverage for your belongings,” said Kara Russelo Cline, a professional organizer and home stager in North Carolina.

3. Go Virtual With Important Documents.

The threat of identity theft makes it essential to protect documents like birth certificates and financial records. But it can be a huge hassle to lug these papers to a secure location every time you’re preparing for a short-term rental.

“Go virtual with your paper so you don’t have to carry it back and forth and so you can access your documents wherever you are,” professional organizer and author Donna Smallin Kuper recommended.

This might require a larger time commitment on the front end, but it will pay off by giving you greater peace of mind and more convenience on a day-to-day basis.

4. Eliminate Your Clutter. 

It’s not necessary to strip away all your home’s personal touches, but you should eliminate excess clutter. Clear away the same things you would remove before having guests over, including old magazines, mail, piles of books, baskets of laundry and empty toiletry bottles.

short-term rental

Clear off tables and other surfaces to make room for guests.

Take special care to clear off surfaces and counters to leave enough space for renters to prepare meals and set out their items, Chan said.

“They should be able to put their own things down without having to move someone else’s things aside,” she said.

5. Create Storage for Guests.

While you don’t have to hide your clothing, you might need to consolidate or pack away some items to leave room for your guests’ clothes.

“Provide some empty hangers, perhaps a luggage rack for a suitcase, and maybe an empty drawer,” Turner suggested.

Not only will this make your renters feel more at home, but Turner pointed out that they’ll be less likely to move your clothes around (and possibly misplace them) in an effort to find space for their own items.

6. Label Shelves and Drawers.

There are some household essentials, such as linens, blankets, towels and kitchen utensils, that always should be available to your guests. If your renters don’t put these items back in the right places, however, it just ends up creating more work for you.

“It is fairly easy to label the inside of your cabinets and drawers,” Turner said.

Taking this simple step not only makes it easier for tenants to find what they need, but it means you’re more likely to return home and find that everything’s exactly where it should be.

Top photo courtesy of Flickr/Jennifer Yin; bottom photo courtesy of  Flickr/Tim Regan