How an Airbnb Host Made $15 Million in One Year

Some Airbnb landlords use the system to rake in millions

A handful of Airbnb hosts are turning the vacation rental site into a super lucrative gig. At least two landlords brought in more than $15 million each last year, Airbnb analysts AirDNA told the Telegraph. And no, these aren’t crazy castles with moats pulling in monstrous rental rates.

Rather, these landlords represent a growing trend of management companies and groups making regular home rentals into big business. The highest-earning landlord rents 881 different properties, and the second-highest earner rents 504 properties. AirDNA says 35 percent of landlords are now management companies rather than individual people renting out extra bedrooms or apartments.

“Airbnb is no longer a community just for individuals renting out their space or properties on their own,” AirDNA CEO Scott Shatford told the Telegraph. Those two highest earners manage hundreds of properties in London and in Bali, two popular vacation destinations.

Shatford said regular people wanting to stay in an Airbnb rather than a hotel might be confused about who they’re really renting from.

“It’s not a good trend for people who use Airbnb for unique accommodation as an alternative for a traditional hotel. These people want to meet people, and for them it’s getting harder and harder to decipher what is a corporate rental hotel against the one where Jane is going to meet you at the door and tell you all about the cool things to do in town.”

bali photo
Getty Images | Ulet Ifansasti

Airbnb, though, has pushed back against analyses like this.

“The vast majority of Airbnb hosts are regular people who share their homes—typically their greatest expense—to boost their income and support their families,” the company told the Telegraph. “The Airbnb model is unique and empowers regular people, boosts local communities and is subject to local tax.”

Want to try your hand at running more lucrative vacation rentals? AirDNA told Forbes landlords make the most money in Barcelona, Prague, Montreal, Osaka and Los Angeles. Daily rental fees in those cities range from $67 to $144, on average. Unfortunately, though, three-quarters of all Airbnb listings bring in less than $10,000

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