If you have a house that’s well suited for a group and you feel comfortable with your Covid risk, there’s never been a better time to rent out your house for events.

As cities begin to re-open, families that have been stuck inside for months are itching to get out and celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and births. Producers of everything from commercials to television programs are also scrambling to find filming locations as productions revive. But many restaurants and hotels large enough to accommodate a crowd are closed, restricted — or fully booked. Private homes are being used as an alternative.

Still shut-down?

Even if your city still doesn’t allow gatherings, it can make sense to create a listing now. Why? The type of events that you’d rent a venue for are rarely planned on the fly. By creating a listing now, you can start filling your property’s dance card for later in the year.

You also have the ability to set your calendar availability to reflect your city’s restrictions. In Los Angeles, for instance, you might want to block off all of September, opening the home for bookings starting in October. If the city is still banning gatherings then, just adjust your calendar accordingly. 

Besides, when you rent your house as a venue, you have a lot of decisions to make. You get to determine what types of events you’re willing to host and you get to set the rules and rates — even variable rates, depending on the type of event. It makes sense to give yourself some time to get those details right. That will ensure that both you and your guests will have a better experience.

Good money

And when it comes to lucrative side hustles, few compare. Depending on the space and the location, you can rent out your house for events at rates ranging from $50 to $500 per hour. In other words, making your home available to host a four-hour bridal shower could pay from $200 to $2,000. Not bad for light work.

That said, there are some things you should know if you are considering whether to rent out your house.

Six options

SideHusl lists six different venues that will help you rent out your house by the hour — Giggster, Peerspace, ThisOpenSpace, Avvay, Splacer and CozyMeal. Some specialize in movie and photo shoots. Others specialize in finding hosts for corporate meetings and retreats.

All of the venues have geographic limitations. Giggster, for example, primarily operates in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Atlanta. Avvay operates in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Nashville and Portland. ThisOpenSpace books venues in Los Angeles and New York, as well as several Canadian districts.

If you happen to live near a large U.S. city, you’re likely to have more options than if you live in a smaller market. That said, suburbs that are up to 100 miles away are often considered to be part of the major metropolitan areas that these sites cover. So, most households have at least one venue where they can list their real estate.

Not Airbnb

Renting your house by the hour is nothing like renting your home through a site like Airbnb. For one thing, Airbnb renters pay the same amount whether they spend 6 hours in your home or 12. Moreover, they may leave the house with unmade beds and dishes in the sink, assuming that your house cleaning staff will pick up after them. And while you may restrict how many guests your house can accommodate, you don’t charge different rates based on how many people are in the renting party with Airbnb.

People who rent out houses for events have a completely different expectation. Here, you charge by the hour. So someone who wants to rent for 12 hours pays twice as much as someone who only needs six hours at your venue. 

You also should expect your house to be every bit as clean when guests leave as it was when they arrived. Finally, you can alter your rates based on the number of people who will be in your home — and by the type of event that’s being hosted.

Rules and rates

When you rent out your house by the hour, you call the shots with respect to house rules and rates.

You can determine what areas of your property are off-limits. In fact, if Covid makes you uncomfortable with indoor crowds, you can require that all events be held only in your outdoor spaces, for example.

You also decide the maximum number of people you’re willing to accommodate; and whether you charge more for large crowds or specific activities. 

Most sites suggest that you charge more for large groups than small ones. You might charge $100 per hour for groups of 1-15, but charge $150 per hour for groups of 16-30, for example.

Peerspace encourages you to set different rates for different types of events — meetings vs. parties vs. movie productions, too. The notion here is that some events are more intrusive than others. Where a corporate meeting might be pretty low key, a New Year’s party is not. You can charge accordingly.

Site supervision

Also unlike Airbnb, you can require that every event held in your space is supervised by a paid representative. That site representative can be you or someone that you (or the site) hires. Typical site rep fees range from $350 to $500 per day.

What does a site rep do? A professional site representative makes sure that any furniture that’s moved is returned to its proper place and that the house is left clean. If the event is a movie shoot, the site rep will also ask the director for a copy of the production insurance policy. He or she will also monitor any area you’ve restricted to make sure it remains off-limits during the event.

Of course, you can also serve as your own site representative and, if you have the right disposition for it, that may be the wisest choice. Why? You can do all the things a professional rep can do, but you can also provide help that requires intimate familiarity with your space.  For instance, if the people holding a birthday party at your home forgot matches, you might be able to help light the candles. Or a provide a needed serving spoon. Or salt. Moreover, you are the best person to resolve disputes between guests and neighbors, if any happen to arise.

Sanitation

For both your health and the health of your guests, most sites currently require rigorous cleaning protocols both before and after events. This is something you can charge extra for by adding a mandatory cleaning and sanitation fee to your listing.

Insurance

Your normal homeowner’s insurance policy is likely to restrict coverage for commercial events, however. As a result, some of the better hourly rental sites, such as Giggster and Peerspace, offer liability policies that cover you when paying guests are on your property. However, most of these policies have coverage limitations and deductibles. Some sites offer no commercial coverage at all.

Be sure to check whether the site you rent through offers coverage and what the limitations are. In some cases, you may want to buy an event policy or rider. This is relatively low-cost insurance coverage that covers just one event or day. However, if you need to buy this coverage, you can (and should) charge for it as one of the extras that you add into your fees.

Deposits

Since most insurance coverage has a deductible, you also should collect a deposit to cover any loss or breakage that’s not covered by insurance. Giggster automatically withholds a deposit equivalent to half of the rental price. Most other sites do not.

City rules

Also make sure you know whether your city or community has rules of its own. Many municipalities require permits, if you’re hosting a film shoot, for example. And most also have noise, parking and lighting restrictions.

Be sure to check with your local authorities, and, ideally, with your neighbors. You don’t want your opportunity to become your neighborhood nuisance.