Vacating for vacation? Rent out your place

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Want to recoup your losses from that sweet spring break trip you’re about to take? One easy way is to list your apartment for rent during the monolith known as South by Southwest. Here are a few tips to help you through the process, and yo put some of that margarita money back in your pocket.

1. Check with your landlord first

One way to find out if this is an option for you is to look at your lease. “Read over your lease in case there is something in the special provision or ‘guest’ section that prohibits you from having guests,” advises Rachel Ford, property manager of West Campus Living.  If you are unsure, contact management to see what your options are.

2. Take some photos and create a listing

Once you’ve received the green light, set up a listing on a rental site like Airbnb or Craigslist. Put in a little effort and make your place look as nice as possible — photos and presentation matter to strangers coming halfway across the country to crash at an unknown pad. 

3. Check local rates and be competitive

There are a lot of people who are desperate for a place to stay during SXSW, and are willing to shell out major bucks for a roof over their heads. Look at other local listings to get a feel for what the going rates are in your neighborhood.  You may see places going for more than $300 per night, but be realistic. Don’t ask for major money if you’ve got a one bedroom apartment a few miles away from downtown  — you’ll likely end up with no takers.  Adding a surcharge for extra guests is fair game on most listing sites, so if you’re cool with lots of guests, you might find yourself raking in a lot of paper. 

4. Protect yourself and your stuff, just in case

Although sites like Airbnb have insurance policies in place to protect renters, it is a good idea to have a back up plan. Take valuables to a friend’s house and look into affordable renters’ insurance policies. Many go for as little as $5 per month. Ford suggests taking a refundable cash deposit and holding a Skype interview to get a feel for your guests, so you can enjoy your vacation worry-free. 

5. Enjoy

You’ve done a good deed by opening up your home to those hungry for free food, music and those sweet tote bags you’ve been collecting since 2009. Reap those karmic and monetary benefits and enjoy your break — it’s going to be all-systems-go once you get back.