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Letters  

Why I'm going with Airbnb

I have been a landlord in the Okanagan for almost seven years now. This is the first time I have ever considered Airbnb, and I think it's important that people understand what it's like to be a landlord.

My husband and I purchased our first home in West Kelowna in 2013; a foreclosure in pretty rough condition. We lived in it while renovating it, we created a separate income suite which we rented out. We sold after three years, purchased a bigger house, also a "total gut job," and did exactly the same thing. We did this four more times over four years. Buying low, putting in every spare dollar, spare minute, sweat equity, sharing our home with strangers, raising two babies and working full-time jobs.

We are not rich, but after five years we were able to purchase our "dream property" – six-acre farm, with an older farmhouse that includes a separate rental suite, right within city limits.

Every house we have purchased, we had to use the rental income to even qualify for the mortgage. We had to pay for an appraisal to determine how much rent to charge. This was always a condition of our mortgage approval. We had to charge the market rent value.

People don't seem to get this. I am not offering a tiny suite in a multi-unit building. I am not a millionaire taking advantage of the rental market. I allow pets, including large dogs. I offer a private yard, laundry and attached garage. Utilities are included.

I live and raise my family in this house. This is my home, and I have to share my space in order to afford to live here. I have worked hard to get here! I have sacrificed my time, gone without extras and luxuries, scrimped and saved every penny, to get here. I put every spare dollar, and any profit I've made into the down payment, and renovations we've done ourselves. I've worked 16-18 hour days until my fingers literally bled to save money and make improvements to the space.

I've been pretty lucky for the most part, I've had amazing tenants. Except for the past tenants, but thankfully they are moving out. So I have posted it on Facebook for the exact same amount that I have been getting for two years. I haven't increased the rent even once. Although my utilities have increased by 41 per cent this year.

This is the first time, though, that I have been relentlessly bullied over the posting. I have been called stupid, an idiot, greedy, a scammer, a crook, and worse.

I have also had a ton of interest, but I am wary of who I will rent to this time.

As a landlord, I can't just keep a damage or pet deposit if a tenant causes damage. I have to go to court and get permission from an arbitrator, which takes forever. The deposit is only half a month's rent which doesn't cover most damages. As a mother, if my tenants cause damage, or their kids hurt my kids, if they are loud at inappropriate times, or filthy, or disrespectful, I can't just give them notice to move out and find a better fit for my family. I am stuck with them, otherwise I have to give them a month's rent, or risk having them squat on the property. If they decide to basically waste the utilities, I can't just increase their rent or utility fees. I have to just pay the extra amount.

So, I am going with Airbnb. Sure, it may be a bit more work, but it's way less risk. The people who use my space have to provide ID and a credit card, pay a deposit that I can keep if there is damage, and I'm not "stuck" with bad tenants.

Daniel Smit



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