Sharing your home with guests.

These hosts truly put the “share” in home-sharing, but they are the most vulnerable of the short-term rental industry.

Airbnb hosts who share space in a home they also occupy face many tough questions as they reopen in the wake of the pandemic. This sector of the short-term rental market has been particularly hard hit by Covid-19.

Keith Freedman is the owner and founder of HostWell and an Airbnb superhost who shares rooms in his San Francisco apartment and shares common areas with those guests. He, like many hosts who share their homes, often depend on this revenue to defray rent or their mortgages.

I asked Keith to share his plan for reopening his home to guests.

While this will be a very personal decision for many, when will you feel comfortable sharing your space once again?

“This is a very tough and personal question.  The real answer is, “when there is a vaccine,” however, my landlord doesn’t share that opinion.   The necessity of the income at some point overcomes the safety concerns and where this threshold is will be different for each person.   In my case, I plan to more judiciously screen guests.  Make sure they’ve been and intend to continue following safety protocols to mitigate their risk.  Since, in this case, our risks become shared and we’re only as safe as the least safe among us.   If they’ll wear masks in public as is required by local laws and will not take unnecessary risks, then I will welcome them into my home.  If they seem resistant to safety protocols, then I might suggest they stay in a private space for their and My safety.”

How will this vital segment of the home-share industry change in the near future?

“I believe there will be increased interest in cleaning.   Currently many home share hosts rely on the turnover cleanings to address common areas.   It may be necessary for hosts to do a daily sanitization of common area surfaces.”

What precautions will you take to ensure your safety and the health of your guest?

“Air movement is key.  Putting fans in common areas can reduce the risks of sharing airborne pathogens.  In my case, I have a long central hallway so having a fan at one end should move air enough that if one person walks through, any viral particles will be dissipated before the next person walks the same hallway.

I’ve also installed a touch-less hand sanitizer in the shared bathroom and have hand sanitizer dispensers in the kitchen along with pouches of to go hand sanitizer for guests to carry around if they wish.”

Can guests and hosts safely share bathroom facilities?

“The CDC hasn’t indicated safety concerns from shared bathing facilities.  In my case, I have a timer/humidistat on the bathroom fan so it continues to run after someone is finished showering.  This will help evacuate the airborne particles.   Viruses are destroyed by soap, so the shower should be safe.  The concerns would be the toilet and sink areas.  I feel a solution here is to have disinfectant wipes and ask guests to wipe down bathroom fixtures after use.

I also have a touch-less bathroom trashcan so people can dispose of wipes without touching the surface.   The can I have also heat seals the trash bag when it’s time to empty it so neither I nor the cleaner has to come in contact with the contents.”

Is there anything you’d like to add in closing?

“Shared home hosting has often been something people have done out of need.  While it can be quite fulfilling, it’s not something most people would do for free.  The normal risks of shared space hosting are increased, but they can be managed by making sure guests (and hosts) take a few extra precautions to keep the people they’re sharing space with safe.”