Things to Know Before Joining AirBNB


The sharing economy is in its infancy in America, and around the world. People with time and assets are using them for their financial benefit. People with time and a vehicle are delivering clients via Uber, while people with property and an open bedroom are leasing it overnight to clients via AirBNB. It seems to be an easy way to make some extra money. Sometimes it’s money ‘on the side’, and sometimes it is a legitimate business. Either way there are expectations and liabilities that potential property owners should be aware of.

Many municipalities are struggling to react to the phenomenon of the sharing economy, especially with regard to AirBNB. Are they legitimate businesses? Should they be legitimate businesses? How can they be regulated? How can regulations be enforced? These questions, and many more, need to be addressed in small towns and big cities everywhere.

Most municipalities have zoning ordinances in place which define residential, commercial, and industrial zones and what can be done within these zones. Many neighborhoods are located in single family dwelling zones. Occupancy by more than a single family unit is prohibited by law. Separating a dwelling into multi family units or a commercial business requires permission from the local government that usually demands a public hearing. Neighbors within 300 feet, or more, are notified of the proposed zoning change for a special land use permit. The property owner, the neighbors, and the zoning board have a discussion to allow or disallow any changes.

Separating a single family home (or a multi-family home) into an AirBNB property is allowing a commercial operation in a residential zone. Neighbors are mostly concerned with traffic, parking, and activity. Regular bed and breakfast properties (B&Bs) have always needed a special land use permit to run that business in a residential zone. Permission is usually granted after improvements are made to make the home safe, neighborhood friendly, and compliant with building codes. Many AirBNB properties bypass the zoning board and just rent their spare rooms to overnight guests.

These are the main issues with AirBNB properties:

  • Parking
  • Absentee owners
  • Adequate water and sanitary sewer services
  • Electrical and safety standards
  • Bathing and lavatory facilities
  • Signage
  • Meals being served
  • Principle residence tax exemptions
  • Earned income
  • Collecting and reporting use tax
  • Appropriate homeowners insurance

Parking is a big issue in many neighborhoods. Neighboring property owners do not want their limited street parking spaces taken by non-residents, or otherwise clear streets crowded with curbside parking. To handle this, many cities require off-street parking for each rentable room, plus 2 spaces for the property owner. It is good to be a considerate neighbor.

Occasionally, tenants rent rooms (or whole houses) and throw big parties when the property owner is not present. This can create a nuisance in the neighborhood and could cause damage to the property. Owner occupancy while the property is leased is a good way to curtail any unauthorized use.

Many homes are not suited for the amount of water usage required by an unusual number of adults under one roof. Water flow, hot water availability, and sewer usage are legitimate concerns for home owners and their guests. An inspection for appropriate service is necessary and appropriate to avoid plumbing problems.

Many older homes have quirky electrical service, inadequate hand rails on staircases, and insufficient building code compliance. For the safety of guests, any non-conforming issues need to be identified by a professional, and corrected.

Many homes have just a bath and a half, or two full bathrooms. For the comfort of the home owner and the guests, separate and private bath facilities are expected. Properties without sufficient bathroom facilities are usually denied.

Appropriate signage is necessary to define the property being leased, while not being a nuisance to the neighbors. Strangers in a new town want to easily find the property they are renting, while the neighbors do not want to be bothered by travelers knocking on the wrong door. Additionally, local homeowners with their property for sale need to make potential buyers aware that there is a special use property in the neighborhood that may affect their decision to buy.

B&B means bed and breakfast. Breakfast may be served to overnight guests. Appropriate safe serving of food must be learned and practiced.

Be aware that valuable homestead tax credits may be lost if the home is not 100% residential.

Any income from overnight guests should be claimed. Know that the income will affect your property value and you will be taxed accordingly. Taking money ‘under the table’ when renting space on a nightly basis could subject the property owner to violations that could include fines and other repercussions.

Use tax needs to be collected and reported to the appropriate municipalities. That could include state, county, city, CVB, and other taxes. Collecting these taxes requires being assigned a federal tax identification number for reporting any income received and corresponding taxes due. Also note that any income acquired through a third party may be recorded with an annual 1099 income tax form. Additionally note that direct deposits may be recorded as income by your bank with an annual 1099 income tax form.

Homeowner must be aware that their regular insurance may not cover paying guests. Commercial liability insurance may be required to cover tenants temporarily living in your home. An appropriate amount of insurance for slips and falls, and unforeseen mishaps may be suggested or required.

These are the main issues that any property operating as a B&B needs to be aware of. AirBNBs and other nightly or vacation rental properties do not always think about the requirements involved in becoming a legitimate commercial business in a residential zone. They also may not be aware of the tax implications–both collecting and reporting. It is best to know your responsibilities before a surprise comes from your local government, law enforcement agency, or tax service.


Published in: on April 22, 2016 at 12:07 am  Comments (1)  
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Example of Health Care in a Privatized Single Payer System

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We were visiting our son in South Korea when we noticed an eye infection in their newborn son. We took him to Cheju General Hospital in Jeju–without an appointment–where we found a room full of people waiting to see a doctor. At 10:57 AM, we took a number. We had #475, and looked at the board to see that #424 was currently being served. With 51 people ahead of us, we assumed this was going to be an all-day affair–after all, we were not in America.

At 11:23, our number was called. We checked-in and discovered that the newborn was not yet registered on my son’s insurance policy, so we would have to pay full price for the doctor visit. The baby’s vitals were taken and we were escorted to a hallway with about a dozen doors. A door opened, our name was called, and we immediately met with the doctor. An assistant was in the room. We assume she was there to take notes on a desktop computer. The doctor inspected the condition, prescribed medication, and wished us well.

We picked up the prescription at the hospital, paid our bill, and left the hospital at 12:46 PM. It took us 49 minutes and cost us $15 to get quality walk-in health care at a busy hospital in Korea. My son informed me that South Korea has a privatized single payer system. In this system, insurance is funded from a single insurance pool run by the state. Single payer health insurance collects all medical fees, and then pays for all services, through a “single” source.

If South Korea can provide quality health care quickly, effectively, and inexpensively, we need to learn something from their system to make ours quicker, better, and cheaper.

Sauder Village Quilt Show

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Sauder Village in Archbold Ohio hosts an annual Quilt Show that goes through May 6 this year. My wife, Lori Venturini, is a quilter who has found much inspiration in attending this event. Over 400 quilts on display show many different  styles and designs. Some quilts are very simple, some extremely complicated, some are colorful, all were works of art. Sauder Village is just an hour away from Munro House in Jonesville MI and is a pleasant day trip to enjoy the show or to attend the working 19th century village.

Published in: on May 4, 2012 at 2:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Michigan B&B Spa Day in Jonesville

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A spa day at a Michigan B&B was enjoyed by 6 women at the Munro House in Jonesville. Their getaway was planned with a single phone call. The package was booked and the Munro House took care of all the details. 2 dinners and a lunch plus a manicure, pedicure, facial, and massage for each lady, along with 2 nights bed and breakfast was scheduled. All the girls had to do was show up. The agenda was set. All of the details were covered, and the ladies had a very good time.

All Inclusive Wedding in Michigan for $1,000

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The all-inclusive Thousand Dollar Wedding© is available every day at the Munro House B&B in Jonesville MI. For $1,000, the wedding couple gets the location, the wedding officiant, flowers for the bride and groom, a custom wedding cake, a cake reception for up to 20 guests, and 2 nights bed and breakfast in any available room for the newlyweds.  The $1,000 wedding at Munro House does not require an affiliation with any church, and is preferred over waiting in line with criminals and litigants at the court house. The entire wedding can be arranged and confirmed in a single phone call 1-800-320-3792 or a personal visit to Munro House B&B in Jonesville. The package is ideal for 1st, 2nd, 3rd weddings or renewal of vows. The price is right and all the details are covered. Hors d’oeuvers are also available for an additional charge.

Published in: on February 27, 2012 at 11:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Thousand Dollar Wedding on Valentine’s Day in Michigan

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Another $1,000 Wedding was held at Munro House B&B in Jonesville MI on  Valentine’s Day. The typical package includes location, flowers, officiant, cake, reception for 20 people, plus 2 nights bed and breakfast for the wedding couple. The entire event can be planned, scheduled, and finalized in a single phone call. Some couples who are unaffiliated with a church end up waiting in line at the courthouse in the presence of other couples, convicts, and litigants on Valentine’s Day, or any other day. The Munro House offers a private, elegant, and affordable option for second time weddings, elopements, or young couples on a budget. The Thousand Dollar Wedding© at Munro House just might be the option many couples are seeking.

2011 Veterans Day in Jonesville MI

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Military Holidays are a big deal in Jonesville Michigan. Veterans Day 2011 marked the rededication of the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Memorial in Carl Fast Park. Over 600 people were in attendance from this village of 2,400.  The G.A.R. Statue was erected in 1912 and honored soldiers from the American Civil War. The Jonesville American Legion funded a project to reposition the statue on a new stone base and flank it with a new American Flag display. The rededication was attended by local students, village residents, and guests of the Munro House B&B. The Munro House gave away all its rooms for free to Veterans and current Active Duty Military personnel as a “thank you” for their service. The international B&Bs for Vets program was very well-received at this Michigan B&B.

Published in: on November 19, 2011 at 5:53 pm  Comments (1)  
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Michigan Lake to Lake Bed and Breakfast Conference

The Michigan Lake to Lake Bed and Breakfast Association held its annual B&B conference in Muskegon Michigan. Vendors, industry leaders, and scores of innkeepers were in attendance for the 3 day event. Conference topics included google analytics, facebook, hospitality, laundry, the state of the industry, B&Bs for Vets program, Asian Carp threat, breakfast, and food photography.

Slideshow chronicles Business Meeting, Networking, Better Way to Stay Campaign,  Food Photography, Harbor View

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Published in: on October 29, 2011 at 8:45 pm  Comments (3)  
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Vacation to Seoul South Korea – Day 10 – The End

Our final day was February 3. It was also New Years Day in South Korea and almost everything was closed. The streets were empty as we strolled our city observing the quietness and remembering the bustle of our previous week here. Restaurants, bars, grocery stores, and coffee shops had all taken the day off.  Our hotel accepted our payment, we grabbed a bite to eat at the local convenience store, and took the shuttle to the airport because we knew that everything there would be open.

We had about 6 hours to spare, so we had our final meal at a Korean restaurant at the airport. We both chose to have bibim bap. The little black cauldron filled with meat, rice, and veggies came steaming to our table. Its contents were deftly pinched by our dextrous fingers wielding chopsticks for the final time. We had a delicious side order of seaweed soup and a tall thin 8 ounce can of Coca Cola. It was all very satisfying–especially the ability to use the chopsticks.

Our experience here was wonderful. We found the people to be polite and the food to be excellent. Mass transit was very modern and easy to use. There was a lot to see and do despite it being the middle of winter. Communication was the biggest obstacle, but we made it through every situation without a hitch.

Our son loves it here. He has a good job with good pay and good benefits. The internet keeps him connected with family and friends in the States. He knows many other teachers who are sharing his experience in different schools throughout this foreign land. He would like to continue to teach here or he could move on to teach in another country if the opportunity arises. Only time will tell.

We had a bit of trepidation over our travel plans because it was snowing back in Michigan. The entire Midwest was in a state of emergency as we read reports of O’Hare Airport in Chicago recording the most single day snowfall in history. My biggest fear was having our flight cancelled because the Detroit Airport was closed. My second biggest fear was having to dig my truck out of a 10 foot snow drift with my bare hands. Neither of these things happened as our flight was smooth and actually arrived early, and our truck pulled right out of its outdoor parking slot without an issue.

The 90 minute drive home from the airport was uneventful. It was good to be away on vacation, but it was better to be home. Our house and our guests were well cared for during our absence and many future reservations were taken to keep us busy over the next 6 weeks. We will visit Chris again, wherever he may be, and we will take on the adventure with the spirit we so enjoy.

Published in: on February 6, 2011 at 3:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Vacation to Seoul South Korea – Day 9 – The DMZ

It was the most beautiful winter day to end the Korean calendar year. Today, February 2, was Korean New Year’s Eve and the temperature was above freezing all day. It was a great day to take a tour of the DMZ (De-Militarized Zone).

But first, a brief recent history of Korea: The Joseon Dynasty ended Korean Monarchy in the early 20th century. The last king of Korea died without an heir while the Japanese overtook and occupied the country. Korea was under Japanese control until the end of World War II. Basically, Korea was 2 uneducated states not knowing how to rule themselves when they gained their independence. North Korea was influenced by the Communist Russians and Chinese, South Korea was influenced by the Capitalist Axis Powers. Both states co-existed for about 5 years when the North invaded the South trying to force them into Communism. This started the Korean War that lasted for three years with Super Powers supporting both sides. The war never really ended: an armistice was declared and the 2 states were separated into North and South by a line that roughly follows the 38th parallel. A fenced-in de-militarized zone running 2 kilometers in each direction from the line was declared a “no man’s land” separating the countries whose borders are heavily guarded on each side. The people of both countries hope for reunification, but the Monarchy of the North refuses to relinquish their power.

The DMZ has become a tourist attraction for people traveling in South Korea. It is an educational tour that teaches about this country’s history, the horrors of war, and the dream of reunification.  There are many areas where cameras are not allowed so photos of the more interesting stops are unavailable.

Our group of about 20 English speaking people from around the world were picked up at various locations around Seoul and hosted by a Korean woman named Angel. Our first stop was at the Freedom Bridge where thousands of POWs (Prisoners of War) from the Korean War were exchanged and brought home. A rusted steam locomotive riddled with bullet holes was salvaged from the waters of the DMZ and put on display as a relic and reminder of the war. There are countless ribbons attached to the fence surrounding the area containing messages of peace for the near future.  We moved on to a gallery where a film of the war was shown.

We continued on to tour the “third tunnel”. During the 1970’s, 80’s, and 90’s, four tunnels were discovered. They apparently were infiltration tunnels that could allow tens of thousands of North Koreans to invade the South in just an hour. The tunnels were discovered by accident, and only the third tunnel is open for public tours. The tour begins with a surrender of recording devices, the wearing of hard hats, and a half mile walk down an 11 degree sloped tunnel. This leads to the actual tunnel that the North Koreans had dug for the invasion. I had to stoop throughout the additional half mile walk to near the 38th parallel. The air here is in short supply and the constant stooping makes it a bit of an uncomfortable journey. After a quick look around, the trek through the low ceiling cave began and finished with a half mile hike back up the 11 degree incline.

The next stop was the Dora Observatory. This is an area where some civilization in North Korea can be seen with the naked eye. Photography from here is limited to be taken from behind a line that is just far enough behind the lookout wall to make photos poor at best. We were surprised to learn that electricity is in such short supply in the North, that a factory needs to be powered from the South.

We moved on to a train station at Dorasan that is hardly ever used. The South Koreans have constructed a modern facility that they hope will one day be the gateway into North Korea. One day, when the countries are reunited, some of the infrastructure that will allow for a smooth reunification will already be in place in the South. After 60 years of Communism versus Capitalism, the two countries are as different in technology as Silicon Valley and the Amish.  It is said that about 2,000 Northerners defect to the South via water routes every year. Because of their inferior education, qualified jobs are unavailable and many resort to a life of thievery or prostitution.

The ride home was made very interesting by an in-depth conversation with Angel, our host. She gave us great insight and understanding of the Korean culture. She was very candid with her responses to personal, political, and economic questions. It is time spent with people like Angel that makes foreign travel such a delight.

We finished the night with a shrimp burger and cheese fries from the local Lotteria. Getting wasted on soju during the Korean New Year on the night before our flight home did not seem like a very good idea, so we watched some NCIS at the hotel and prayed that the snow would stop to allow us to travel safely on our way home during one of the biggest snow storms ever to hit the USA. I also don’t want to miss the Super Bowl. Go Pack GO!

Paju G&G = Good and Great

Published in: on February 2, 2011 at 9:23 am  Leave a Comment  
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