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6 Ways to Make Money on Airbnb Without Owning Property

Updated: Jun 13

Affiliate Marketing Disclosure

This post is part of a series designed to help student loan borrowers (and anybody else!) increase their income through new side hustles.

Since its arrival in the fall of 2008, Airbnb has revolutionized the way that we travel and experience new cities, states, and countries. In less than a decade and a half, the company has become the world's largest travel site for booking home/condo/apartment stays for travelers.

According to the Airbnb website, there are now over 5.6 million listings on the site. And for those with the financial means to buy and rent properties, the platform can be a great way to make a hefty side income.

And while many of us don't have a property to rent out, it is still possible to make money through Airbnb.

What is Airbnb?

Airbnb is an online marketplace platform and app that allows users to book stays in homes and other lodging types across the world. Competing primarily with hotels and Vrbo, Airbnb offers travelers the opportunity to find unique accommodations off the beaten path.

For those with property, the platform offers the opportunity to make some extra money by listing your home for others to book. You can rent your own home or just a private bedroom, and get paid per night that you book.

All Airbnb listings are vetted, and detailed processes are undertaken to assure guest safety.

How to make money on Airbnb

Generally, you make money on Airbnb by renting out some or all of your home, second property, etc. And millions of Americans and people around the world do it because it is easy, secure, and monitored by a reputable company.

Plus - if someone told you that you could make money off your house on nights when you wouldn't be there anyway, wouldn't you at least consider it?

But - what if someone told you that, to make money on Airbnb, you don't actually need to be a property owner?

More: Check out these unique side hustle ideas this year!

1. Property manage Airbnb listings in your area

Many Airbnb owners own multiple properties, oftentimes in a different part of the country and world from where they live. This makes it impossible for property owners to keep an eye on their listings every day, week, or even month.

Marketing yourself as an Airbnb property manager can earn you 20% or more of the nightly going rate for each night the property is occupied.

You'll be responsible for tasks such as:

  1. Listing and managing the property

  2. Communicate with guests

  3. Perform customer service duties as needed

  4. Clean and prepare the property for the next occupants

  5. Complete landscaping and complete maintenance as required

Remember - you need to price your services based on the amount of work you're expecting to put in.

To get started, we recommend you do some research on the various management companies in your area and get an idea as to what services they provide, and at what cost.

2. Rental arbitrage

Let us be clear. There are risks to this strategy, and it is not an option we think you should consider without first getting the property owner's permission. But another potential way to make money is for you to rent a home or apartment in your area from a landlord (not an Airbnb listing), and then list it on the site.

This idea, known as subletting or rental arbitrage, is common among millennials in cities like Boston, but since you've signed a contract, you should always make sure you remain in compliance with it.

Think of it as rental arbitrage. You don't own property or any of the overhead, but you are able to collect some rent anyway.

If your landlord won't go along with subletting the property, you can try offering them a piece of whatever profits you may earn. Just realize that you may be demonstrating to your landlord that their property can sustain a higher rent price.

3. Become an Airbnb co-host

You may also opt to become an Airbnb co-host. Co-hosting is similar to being a property or rental manager, except your duties will generally be less strenuous. By definition, your job is to serve as the host's assistant.

This may involve things such as meeting guests at check-in and check-out, arranging for property cleaning and maintenance, purchasing and stocking any complimentary items such as spices or toiletries, and otherwise communicating with guests.

If you were really new to the Airbnb world, this can be a great way to get introduced to the business model. And while you won't make as much money as if you are managing the property, you may be able to take on more properties as a co-host.

Still, co-hosts can generally charge 10% or more of the nightly revenue for their services.

4. Start an Airbnb cleaning business

You may also consider starting a cleaning business in an area with large numbers of Airbnb rentals. Your start-up expenses can be very low, and your business can become very profitable once you build relationships with local property owners.

To get started, you'll want to check any insurance and licensing requirements in your area and conduct some market research. Use this checklist to help you get started:

  1. Do you need to be insured?

  2. Do you need any state/county licensing?

  3. What services does your competition provide?

  4. What does your competition charge?

Starting an Airbnb cleaning service may be right up your alley!

Our findings

In the spirit of journalistic integrity, we decided to test out this idea in our local Connecticut market. A quick Google search in our area for "Airbnb cleaning businesses," for example, yielded a few search results for businesses in the area.

Airbnb cleaning businesses in Connecticut

We did a deep dive into a couple of the companies listed above, and we found that the market is somewhat split into individuals with side hustles and larger companies like Merry Maids trying to enter the rental market.

Our number one piece of advice is to create a profile on a site called Turnoverbnb. The site will allow you to see cleaning requests and bid on jobs in your area!

5. Become an Airbnb photographer

6. Copywrite listing descriptions

Let's take the next two together. Have you ever looked at a beautiful Airbnb listing and wondered who put it together? Similarly, have you ever read a listing's description and thought, "This is the home from home I want to stay at?"

That's because, in many instances, owners hire professionals to handle photography and descriptions and assure that they are as appealing as possible for prospective renters.

Notice for a second the way this description appeals to all of your senses, emotions, and desires. It is a celebrity chef's house, is beautiful year-round, is on a lake, has amazing amenities, and has ample indoor and outdoor space.

An Airbnb listing description

The only remaining question is - who wouldn't want to stay there?

Airbnb rental arbitrage

We already started to mention the idea of Airbnb rental arbitrage, but feel like it can be an extremely lucrative strategy on its own. For this reason, we're going to elaborate more on this idea. Again, you'll need to make sure that it is not explicitly written out in your rental agreement that you cannot sublet your rental.

If you're okay to proceed, you will want to check on other local laws, statutes, and regulations in your area, since some cities have begun to institute new laws that limit the number of nights per year that a rental can be offered to tourists. Other cities levy a tourist tax that you should be aware of.

You may need to convince your landlord to allow you to rent out the space. You are not powerless to counter their concerns, which are likely to center around noise complaints, the risk of damage, and other factors too.

But once you're successful in doing so, it is time to make some money.

Making money

To make money, you will need to have renters. This is a fact. To maximize the nights your Airbnb is occupied by people other than yourself, consider these following tips:

  • Do market research to learn what your nightly cost should be

  • Determine whether your location can support your price point

Start-up costs

After your path to revenue is clearer, you'll need to consider your start-up costs, those associated with getting your apartment/house to the point where it can begin to generate you some revenue.

My advice here is to overestimate. Projects like these are notorious for runnnig over budget and take longer than you think they will or should. As a starting point, most Airbnb's offer basic amenities, including:

  1. Furnishings

  2. Towels

  3. Furnished rooms and beds

  4. Some toiletry items

  5. Kitchenware, plates, etc.

  6. WiFi

It is also wise to get an insurance policy in case something happens. After this, you'll be ready to list your rental on the Airbnb/Vrbo platforms.

Here is a more complete guide to Airbnb rental arbitrage here.


There are plenty of ways to make money off the Airbnb platform, regardless of whether you actually own properties or not. And who knows, maybe if you save your earnings, you'll be able to jump into the rental market for yourself sooner than you think.

Try these other side hustles

Reselling concert tickets for money

Advertising with Wrapify

Flipping liquidation pallets

Starting a pressure washing business

Affiliate marketing disclosure is a student loan research and education website provided by Grow Your Green LLC. is not a student loan lender.

We're passionate about teaching and guiding people to a better personal finance situation. To do this, we create an enormous amount of content, which takes time, resources, and money.

In order to write about and offer these products and services for you, we utilize affiliate marketing and link to certain products and services. If you click on, subscribe, to purchase on these links then we may be paid a small commission. These are at no cost to you, but by earning small commissions, are able to help us keep our website active.

We manually review all products and services that we think are of high quality and value to you.

About Nathan Zarcaro

Nathan Zarcaro is the founder of The Student Debt Destroyer and is passionate about personal finance related causes.  A 2018 graduate of Providence College's Liberal Arts Honors Program, Nathan studied Finance, and worked for one of the world's largest asset management firms before starting his own consulting practice.  In his free time, Nathan enjoys playing golf and traveling with his wife Brigid.

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