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How To Make Money With Airbnb Without Owning Property: Go From Profits To A Passive Income

May 13, 2024

How to make money with Airbnb without owning property:

  1. Rental arbitrage (subleasing)
  2. Joining a vacation rental franchise
  3. Property management
  4. Co-Hosting
  5. Hosting an Airbnb Experience
  6. Starting an Airbnb cleaning service

Airbnb is an online marketplace for short term and vacation rentals. The platform connects homeowners and travelers looking for local accommodations. According to Search Logistics, Airbnb currently has over 5 million hosts and 7.7 million active listings worldwide. The platform also has a current valuation of $113 billion. Today, Airbnb has a “20+% market share of the vacation rental industry.”

Airbnb hosts interact with guests and market their properties online. In addition to creating a listing, hosts spread the word about their business through social media posting, content creation, email marketing, and others.

Furthermore, Airbnb provides opportunities for non-property owners to make money. Mark Pierson says rental arbitrage can be “an effective way” to get started in the business. In his Quora post, the real estate investor also writes that doing research is a must. For example, it’s important to know about a location’s legal requirements and political climate.        

Meanwhile, Amanda Kelvin argues doing Airbnb without property is “not the best way to do it”. This is because non-property owners only have limited control.

Sol_Hando also says there is “a lot of shady business” among arbitrage hosts. “I started out with Airbnb arbitrage, and it's really not sustainable,” adds the Quora user. “I have since transitioned to owning my own units.”

In this article, we showcase six ways to make money with Airbnb that don't require you to own property. We'll break down the pros and cons of each model. We also show you how much money you can potentially make and how to go from profits to a passive income. Towards the end, we'll share why we think local lead generation is a better online business option.

6 Ways To Make Money With Airbnb Without Owning Property

1. Rental Arbitrage (Subleasing)

Rental arbitrage (or subleasing) is a real estate strategy where a renter offers the property for short term rentals. With this business model, anyone can be a “landlord” and make money without owning a property. On average, you can earn $1,000 to $2,000 per month from a property.  

On YouTube, Cameron and Sadie share their experience as arbitrage beginners. The couple targeted 1 bed, 1 bath apartments for their business. “We also try to provide a unique feature or something that's gonna make our listing stand out from the others,” says Sadie. In total, each unit made them about $600 in monthly profit. 

On Reddit, user u/Careless_Ant_1389 shares they have 4 units and earns $12,000 to $16,000 in profit each month. The Redditor plans to scale up and stop at 10 units.

Is rental arbitrage legal?

Rental arbitrage is legal but you’ll have to find out your location’s laws and policies about it. According to Forbes, around 97% of US cities “allow short-term rentals with or without permits.” This means “at least 3%” do not permit it in their respective areas.

Before doing Airbnb arbitrage, you need to let the property owner know about your intentions. You and your landlord should agree with every aspect and have a contract. That way, you can make sure that both parties understand their responsibilities. Also, make sure to pay rent on time and keep the place in excellent condition.

Some landlords may object to the idea of rental arbitrage. Generally, these owners dislike the risk of having guests trashing their property. So having a written agreement will help you handle these concerns. You can also highlight the benefits of having a long-term business tenant. Plus, you can sweeten the deal with profit sharing or an offer to rent more than one of their properties.

If you plan on renting out more than three, it’s best to set up an LLC. This way, you can have a legit business and be entitled to tax breaks.


Optimize your Airbnb listing. Every profile has an internal rank determined by Airbnb algorithms. The goal is to get to the top of the page and get more eyes on the property. Indicate the number of guests you can accommodate. Tell a story about the space. Highlight special features and amenities. Share past guest reviews to convince more people to check out your short-term rental.

Rental Arbitrage Pros

Rental arbitrage requires hard work but it’s a low-cost way into the Airbnb game.

Rental arbitrage can help you build a good cashflow.

Rental arbitrage allows you to scale fast. You just need to follow local requirements and find landlords who agree to your terms. After that, you can list multiple properties on the Airbnb platform.

Rental Arbitrage Cons

Rental arbitrage means you have little to no control over the property.

Rental arbitrage heavily relies on travel trends and seasonal peaks. These factors can affect your earnings. It may also mean paying a full rent even during months with zero or few bookings.

Rental arbitrage means you need to observe Airbnb regulations. Violations can lead to account suspension on the platform.

Potential Earnings:

You can earn $3,000 month or more in rental arbitrage. Others earn higher or lower, depending on their approach to the business model. Plus, it's possible to get from 1 to 5 properties quickly. Then you can save and reinvest your money and roll it into more rentals or buy property.

Tips For Making More Money:

Consider subletting corporate housing on Airbnb. This is the strategy of Dr. Chau Ong, who teaches the Beyond BnB Secrets course. With this, you're specifically targeting traveling employees. Your goal is to provide an environment that encourages work and vacation. Corporate housing often enjoy higher occupancy rate and higher earnings.

2. Joining a Vacation Rental Franchise

Joining a vacation rental franchise gets you in the Airbnb industry without much heavy lifting. You can get a special license from a franchise owner by paying a fee. You can then find clients faster by using the brand’s resources. As a franchisee, you get to manage short-term rental properties on your own terms. You also get to reap the benefits of operating under a well-established brand.   

One Reddit user shares how they experienced initial struggles in vacation rental management. Eventually, taking the franchise route helped them gain knowledge and industry growth.

According to Statista, the vacation rentals market in the US is set to hit $19.77 billion in 2024. Experts also anticipate it will reach $21.11 billion by 2028, with an annual growth rate of 1.65%.

Vacation Rental Franchise Pros

Vacation rental franchise allows you to run daily operations the way you want. Plus you get access to a pre-existing customer base. 

Vacation rental franchise lets you leverage brand loyalty. You enjoy access to resources and software that are proven effective.

Vacation rental franchise is scalable with the potential for a higher gross income. This is particularly true, especially if you choose a profitable location.

Vacation Rental Franchise Cons

Becoming a franchisee requires a significant financial investment. This typically ranges between $15,000 to over $100,000, depending on the franchise.

You can get locked into contracts. Plus there are often additional fees (such as annual fees, which is around 5% of your revenue).

It's not 100% consistent and you could lose revenue during slow months.

Potential Earnings:

A vacation rental franchisee can earn up to $100,000 per month. To succeed, you need to be willing to scale, have a good location, a real estate strategy, and a generous contract.

Tips For Making More Money:

You need to stand out from the competition to boost your profits. So add sizzle features to your listing to get more Airbnb bookings by:

  • Using high quality images and videos
  • Offering specific amenities included with the rental (like bicycles, paddleboards, surfboards, etc.)
  • Bringing local experiences to your Airbnb guests
  • You can also use incentives like gift cards to get people to leave reviews. By offering extras, you prove that you're taking care of your guests and are giving them the best experience possible.

3. Property Management

Property management is another option for non-property owners to earn from Airbnb. As a property manager, you ensure the short term rental property runs according to the owner's instructions. In exchange, they pay you a fee.

Some of your duties and responsibilities include: 

✅ Overseeing finances (property expenses, bills)
✅ Handling guest communication (responding to guest inquiries and concerns)
✅ Managing property maintenance (housekeeping, repairs)
✅ Facilitating guest experience (screening guests, facilitating arrivals and departures)
✅ Higher percentage of site visitors converted into qualified leads

To be an Airbnb property manager, you just need to find someone who has an Airbnb but doesn't want to deal with routine management tasks. But you don't pay for expenses like mortgage, taxes, or rent payments.

While it can be an advantage, experience is not a requirement in property management. Of course, you'll have to invest time to learn and grow in this industry. You can even scale faster and earn more if you can connect with an Airbnb owner who has multiple listings.

Property Management Pros

With property management, you don't need to invest any capital.

You have a flexible role as a property manager. This gives you the opportunity to learn important aspects of the business firsthand. 

You can build your network as you meet guests and service providers all the time.

Property Management Cons

Property management will usually require you to work during weekends and holidays.

Finding Airbnb hosts who want your service can be a challenge.

Your operations rely on your Airbnb host. You can lose earnings if they suddenly fire you.  

Potential Earnings:

Property managers make approximately 10% to 20% of the property's nightly rate. Some property managers earn $1,000 to $5,000 per month.

Tips For Making More Money:

Learn to use property management software like Buildium or SimplifyEm. These tools help you automate processes, such as maintenance cycles and accounting. With this, you can scale your short-term rental business faster.

4. Co-Hosting

Co-hosting can be another option for non-property owners wanting to make money via Airbnb. Not all Airbnb hosts have the time to manage their properties. This is where co-hosts come in. These are trusted individuals or professionals who manage listings, respond to guest messages, provide property tours, and do other tasks.    

REAL System Airbnb coach Jorge Contreras describes co-hosting as the “easiest way to start an Airbnb business.” He explains some “accidental Airbnb hosts” later get overwhelmed by the business model. They realize they don’t have the time to do all the work and, thus, can’t maximize their property’s earning potential. “Co-hosting is the process where you manage other people's Airbnbs,” says Jorge. “In exchange, you get a percentage of all the revenue.” 

Jorge also adds that this strategy does not require any money. “All you need to do is take over the business, manage it, and implement a system on the back end,” he points out. Jorge recommends checking out free Facebook groups to find co-hosting opportunities. This can be done by typing 'short-term rental host' plus the city’s name. “Every major city has one to four groups where you can connect with existing hosts who could use some help,” he says.

Cohost Pros

You don't need any upfront capital or a license to start.

The hours are flexible.

You can manage multiple properties at once.

Cohost Cons

Income is unpredictable. Your earnings rely on the number of Airbnb bookings you get each month.

Revenue isn’t as high as you would make as an Airbnb host.

It can be challenging to find listings that are looking for a co-host.

Potential Earnings:

Airbnb co-hosts can earn 10% to 30% of the listing price per night. In some locations, top co-hosts make up to 40%.

Tips For Making More Money:

Consider creating a website with a direct booking option to avoid Airbnb and other OTA fees. You can also get more brand exposure. Automating your systems with third-party tools like Wheelhouse or Hospitable can also be a great help.


Investing in an Airbnb course may be a good idea if you want to learn about the business. For example, Jorge Contreras’ REAL System teaches students how to earn 6 figures in Airbnb without spending a dime. The course covers a wide array of subjects, including arbitrage, co-hosting, and more.

5. Hosting an Airbnb Experience

Hosting an Airbnb Experience can be a unique way to make money from Airbnb without owning a property. Basically, Airbnb Experiences are guided tours you can offer to your customers. There is a growing demand for unique travel experiences and you can meet that need. You know the best spots and activities in your location. These may include physical activities (such as yoga in the park or trail running), local museum tours, or even local cuisine tours (wine and cheese tasting, etc).  

Alternatively, you can also offer Online Experiences. According to the Airbnb site, these are “live special events hosted by experts entirely over Zoom.”

Hosting an Airbnb Experience Pros

Airbnb promotes your services to its users. 

You make money while having fun. 

You get to meet new people.

Hosting an Airbnb Experience Cons

You rely on Airbnb to promote your Experience (plus they take a 20% cut).

Some tourists prefer booking with travel agencies and tour guides. You’ll need plenty of 5-star reviews to gain people’s trust.

Creating unique Experiences can be a challenge. This can take a lot of research on your end. 

Potential Earnings:

You can charge per person or a flat rate. Your earnings depend on the number of experiences you run. But keep in mind that Airbnb takes 20% of the total price. So use a profit margin calculator tool to subtract your expenses. Doing this helps ensure you're making a profit. 

Tips For Making More Money:

The goal is to build your brand so you can make lots of money. To do this, you’ll need to create a unique Airbnb Experience to gain attention online. Once you're successful with one Experience, you can start offering multiple Experiences. You can then outsource by hiring co-hosts and assistants to accommodate more customers. 


Airbnb Experiences can be a good starting point. However, you can also offer your services on different platforms. Post content on Instagram and TikTok. Join Trip Advisor. Offer customized tours and make deals with local businesses. Reach out to local dating apps or community partners to increase your market base.

6. Starting an Airbnb Cleaning Service

Airbnb cleaning services are in high demand in the short term rental industry. Hosts often rely on professional cleaning services to keep their places tidy before and after accommodating guests. This type of business has a lot of earning potential, especially if there are plenty of Airbnb properties in your area.

Some of your responsibilities as an Airbnb cleaning service provider are:  

✅ Changing linens
✅ Washing & putting away dishes
✅ Cleaning bathrooms
✅ Sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming floors
✅ Checking that appliances are clean and functional

✅ Taking out the garbage

There are many ways to market your cleaning business. Nadia Martinez of Janitorial Leads Pro recommends building a website, using social media, and sending targeted emails. Nadia also adds it’s a good idea to utilize local listing platforms (Google My Business, Trip Advisor, and Yelp) and attend networking events, among others.

Airbnb Cleaning Service Pros

High customer retention, plus you can choose your clientele.

Airbnb cleaning service is in-demand. Some also say it’s a recession-proof business model.

Great potential for earning, especially Uncapped income potential. 

Airbnb Cleaning Service Cons

The work can be inconsistent, with little to no notice for scheduling.

Building a team of cleaners who meet your standards can be difficult.

It's a labor-intensive job that can be very physically demanding. 

Potential Earnings:

You can make up to $100,000 per month providing cleaning services to short-term rentals. Airbnb cleaning is in constant demand. So if you can connect with a property owner with multiple listings, you can secure a steady cash flow. 

Tips For Making More Money:

Take advantage of automation software like HostTools for messaging and scheduling your cleaning crew. You can also join TurnoverBnB - a free Airbnb marketplace that allows cleaning companies to list their services.

How Can Airbnb Generate Passive Income

Airbnb can help you generate a passive income as you use automation technology. Communicating with guests and maintaining properties can be time-consuming. Automation allows you the convenience of a hands-off approach to running your business. For example, you can automate cleaning, guest check-ins and outs, maintenance, and payments.

Furthermore, you can find virtual assistants on Fiverr or Upwork to help you handle routine tasks. That way, you can focus more on other important aspects of the business.  

Why Local Lead Generation Is A Better Way To Make Money In 2024

Earning money with Airbnb without owning property can be exciting and lucrative. But it takes time to go from profits to passive income. This is why I prefer the lead generation business model. It's still real estate investing but on the internet. With lead gen, you build and rank generic websites that reach the top of Google searches. These sites work as your digital real estate that you can rent out to business owners.

Since you’re creating websites for service-based industries in specific locations, there's always a demand for your services. Once you're at the top of the SERPs, your sites get a ton of traffic and leads.


Because your property is virtual, it takes less time to become passive. Take this website above, for example. I built this site in about 10 hours and got it to the top of Google in around 3 months. Now that it's generating leads and doesn't need a ton of maintenance. Moreover, it's been making me $2,000 per month since 2015. Plus this site is only one of the over 80 sites I own. In total, I earn an average of $52,000 per month with local lead generation.

The good news is anyone can learn these skills, too. In fact, we have a coaching program for anyone interested in building their own lead generation business.

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Ippei Kanehara

$52K per month providing lead generation services to small businesses is for digital hustlers, industry leaders and online business owners.

His #1 online business recommendation in 2024, is to build your own lead generation business.

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