The New York Times reports on websites that connect budget-sensitive travelers with locals willing to share their space for a short duration. The site is called AirBnB.com and the NYT describes it as a "cross between CouchSurfing.org and the vacation rentals section of Craigslist." Sure: great idea. Until a psycho comes along.
To be fair, the article doesn't describe any wrongdoings from the sites or people involved. But you have to ask yourself: is it really safe to open your apartment to perfect strangers in exchange for a tiny fee?
C'mon - don't Law & Order: Special Victims Unit re-runs teach anything?
Here are some things to consider before you assume that nice holiday-ing Brit won't ransack your apartment.
Women Should Think Twice About Men
Evil-doing is evenly split between the sexes, but ladies, why invite potential trouble inside your apartment? If you're renting a room, rent it just to another woman. (But perhaps not this lady.)
Might Work Better if You Don't Live Alone
Roommates aren't required to watch your back, but, unless you're the roommate from hell, chances are good they'll keep an eye out for you. So, if you're in it together, it might be worth it to rent out your conveniently-located apartment. (Just be sure you're both fine with short-term stranger stays...otherwise, sooo uncool.)
Lock Up the Valuables
Trust everyone; but hide the silverware. Or the jewelry. Or what-not.
On the Up-and-Up? Maybe.
Chances are your landlord won't take kindly to the idea of unknown people staying in his or her apartment. If the frugal travelers are disruptive, your neighbors might not like it, either. So: consider limiting the amount of short-term stays in your apartment so you don't raise any flags.
Really eager to rent something out? Try making scratch from your parking space instead.