Families throughout the Tampa Bay area can make major money by listing even just one bedroom in their home as a short-term rental, real estate experts say.
Events like Gasparilla, The National Championship and every convention under the sun are all drawing people to the bay area.
That's letting some people like Natalia Gago, an Ybor City resident, cash in big.
"I'm a school teacher, and I'm a single mom so I always have to be very frugal," Gago said.
She rents out two bedrooms in her own home as vacation rentals. She also owns an additional home that serves exclusively as a short-term rental on the website AirBNB.
Gago is brining in more than $2,000 a month with all the properties combined. Gago said there is such a demand for rooms here in the Tampa Bay area, she is almost always booked.
"I don't want to live on loans and AirBNB helps me to be totally cash," she said.
Pat Floyd is an AirBNB host and investor. He owns a property in Seminole Heights that he lists on the short-term rental site.
"For the national championship, I got $400 a night," Floyd said.
Frank Albert, a local realtor who specializes in short-term rentals, said there is a growing need for inexpensive options close to Downtown and popular neighborhoods across the Tampa Bay area.
"Being able to stay in someone's home that's fully furnished and ready to go, and sometimes, people even cook you breakfast, for 30, 40 bucks a night, it's a pretty good deal," Albert said.
So how do they do it and how can you get started?
First, there are the basics. You need to choose your short-term rental company where you can list your property. Many of the larger, well-known companies include Vacation Rental By Owner, which is part of HomeAway, as well as AirBNB.
Then, you must decide if you'd like to list your entire home or just a bedroom in your home or property. Some also choose to rent out mother-in-law suites or backyard cottages.
You can then choose the price per night, whether you'd like a minimum night stay, and if you will charge a cleaning fee or a security deposit.
Not everyone can become a host. It depends on where you live.
"Every HOA has different policies on what they do and don't allow," Albert said. "Some require you do an application and process for each renter."
Many apartment and condo complexes do not allow short-term rental agreements either.
Safety can be a concern as well. Sites like AirBNB and HomeAway/VRBO carefully screen both guests and hosts. They also have guaranteed insurance policies for hosts.
But Floyd said hosts need to also go with their gut when they get a booking request and ask them questions, including why they are coming to stay in your home and how many people.
"If they're from Tampa and they want to stay here, maybe they want to party," he said. "Maybe they are up to no good."
He said if you get a bad feeling, deny the booking. You can do that whenever you don't want to host someone, he said.
But both Gago and Floyd say the short-term rental market has given them financial freedom and the ability to meet people from all over the world.