Airbnb Property Management: An Alternative Accounting Method You Need to Know

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Why should you read this guide?

Airbnb property management is an increasingly lucrative industry. Additionally, many jurisdictions do not require licensing or strict trust accounting rules for managing short-term stays on behalf of owners. In this guide, we present an alternative accounting method for those in Airbnb property management who do not use a trust account. In this case, rather than using a trust account, all funds are directly collected from Airbnb and declared as income by the property management company. From there, a portion is paid out to owners as a direct cost.

Although this method of accounting may not be considered the most conventional, it is widely used for two main reasons. First, it’s vastly simpler than trust accounting as it only requires a third of the data entry and training necessary to maintain. Second, the property manager can claim a higher income, which is useful for requesting a business loan. Therefore, if there’s no trust accounting requirements in your jurisdiction, you may want to consider this straight-forward accounting method.

DISCLAIMER: If you are operating in a jurisdiction that has legal requirements for Airbnb property managers to use a trust account, the accounting method discussed in this guide is not for you. There are plenty of jurisdictions that consider property managers as custodians with a fiduciary responsibility to the property owner, which requires a more comprehensive trust accounting method.

NOTE: In this guide, we only cover income accounting, not costs. For a guide about Airbnb costs and chart of accounts to consider, check out this guide instead: Airbnb Costs and Chart of Accounts to Consider

What you’ll get from this guide?

In this guide, you’ll learn how to implement and automate this method of accounting for Airbnb property management using QuickBooks.

  1. A template for QuickBooks with detailed chart of accounts
  2. Learn how to automate Airbnb property management accounting with Bnbtally
  3. Execute common transaction workflows in QuickBooks
  4. Generate monthly owner statements and reports for your clients

Cash Flow Diagram

Who should not read this guide?

There are other business models that may be more suitable in your particular scenario, which are covered better in the following guides:


Airbnb Property Management: QuickBooks Chart of Accounts for Airbnb Income

Here we’ll describe our chart of accounts template in great detail. This is presented in the same structure as we’d create in QuickBooks, with parent categories and their respective sub-categories as follows:

Account Codes

No. AccountType
24000Rental LiabilityLiability
24100Rental Liability: Airbnb Owner Funds PayableLiability
24200Rental Liability: Airbnb Custom Taxes PayableLiability
42000Rental RevenueRevenue
42100Rental Revenue: Airbnb Income – Accommodation FareRevenue
42200Rental Revenue: Airbnb Income – Cleaning FeeRevenue
42300Rental Revenue: Airbnb Income – Resolution AdjustmentRevenue
42400Rental Revenue: Airbnb Refund – Accommodation FareRevenue
42500Rental Revenue: Airbnb Refund – Cleaning FeeRevenue
42600Rental Revenue: Airbnb Refund – Resolution AdjustmentRevenue
51000Rental CostsCost of Service
51100Rental Costs: Airbnb Service FeeCost of Service
51200Rental Costs: Airbnb Amounts Due to OwnerCost of Service
61100Airbnb Tax WithholdingsExpense

NOTE: In this guide, we only cover income accounting, not costs. For a guide about Airbnb costs and chart of accounts to consider, check out this guide instead: Airbnb Costs and Chart of Accounts to Consider

Detailed Explanation of Accounts

Click to expand and learn more about any particular account.

Rental Liability

24000 – Rental Liability – This is a parent account with child accounts that account for rental liabilities.

24100 – Rental Liability: Airbnb Owner Funds Payable – This account tracks Airbnb funds payable to owners. This is for property management businesses that do not use a trust account to manage funds.

24200 – Rental Liability: Airbnb Custom Taxes Payable – This represents all Custom Taxes collected from Airbnb and payable to a tax authority.

Rental Revenue

42000 – Rental Revenue – This is a parent account with child accounts that account for rental revenue.

42100 – Rental Revenue: Airbnb Income – Accommodation Fare – This account tracks the accommodation fare portion of each Airbnb reservation. The accommodation fare is equal to the number of nights multiplied by the average nightly rate of each reservation.

42200 – Rental Revenue: Airbnb Income – Cleaning Fee – This account tracks the cleaning fee portion of each Airbnb reservation.

42300 – Rental Revenue: Airbnb Income – Resolution Adjustment – This account tracks any resolution adjustments collected from Airbnb.

42400 – Rental Revenue:Airbnb Refund – Accommodation Fare – This account tracks accommodation fare refunds executed by Airbnb..

42500 – Rental Revenue: Airbnb Refund – Cleaning Fee – This account tracks cleaning fee refunds executed by Airbnb.

42600 – Rental Revenue: Airbnb Refund – Resolution Adjustment – This account tracks resolution adjustment refunds executed by Airbnb.

Rental Costs

51000 – Rental Costs – This is a parent account with child accounts that account for rental costs.

51100 – Rental Costs: Airbnb Service Fee – This account tracks service fee costs from Airbnb for each reservation, which is subtracted from the income.

51200 – Rental Costs: Airbnb Amounts Due to Owner – This account tracks amounts paid to owners as a cost to the business. This account is for property management businesses that do not use a trust account to manage funds.

61100 – Airbnb Tax Withholdings – This account tracks any taxes withheld by Airbnb for income tax obligations. This is very rare and usually due to the Airbnb account holder lacking tax identification information. Ideally, this account should not contain any balance and is seldom (if ever) used. To avoid income tax withholdings from Airbnb, be sure to update your Airbnb account with your tax identification information and verify your account.

Accounts not included in this template

For the scope of this guide, we’re mainly focused on Airbnb revenue recognition. It is important to point out that our template does not include many general accounts. We also make reference to some accounts not include in this particular template, which we’ll list here:

  • 11000 – Airbnb Payment Clearing Account – This account is created by Bnbtally but is not included in this template in particular. This account is used to apply payments to Airbnb invoices upon the day the Airbnb reservation payout is posted. Payouts can take 3-5 days (or longer) to arrive in the bank account after posted from Airbnb. Monies owed are held in this clearing account until the payouts are received in the bank. This account also helps to automate the reconciliation process in QuickBooks.
  • 1XXXX – Operations Bank Account – This is your business operations bank account set up with your financial institution. It’s a cash asset account to facilitate your Airbnb property management company’s day-to-day business operations.
  • 4XXXX – Billable Expenses Income – This is a general account for capturing income received for the payment of billable expenses by owners, which may include a markup.
  • 7XXXX – Billable Expenses – This is a general account for tracking billable expenses for any owners.

Quick Setup Steps

Here’s how to import the above chart of accounts template. All of the accounts discussed in this article can be imported into QuickBooks automatically using Bnbtally’s setup tools. Here’s how to access this utility…

  1. If you haven’t already, Sign Up to Bnbtally. It includes free use of this template.
  2. Once registered, go to the Connections manager in Bnbtally. Connect your Airbnb account, connect your QuickBooks Online account and then create a connection between the two.
  3. Within the Connection settings, select “Set Up QuickBooks”
  4. This is the QuickBooks setup utility, from here, select the tab “Airbnb Property Management Alternative Accounting Method” to import the template from this article.

How to Automate Airbnb Property Management Accounting

Every reservation received from Airbnb can be reconciled automatically – in great detail – using Bnbtally. Furthermore, all owner payouts can be split and allocated on-the-fly. In this section, we’ll discuss Bnbtally, it’s approach to automating Airbnb reservation accounting and their presets offered for property management under this accounting method, which use the chart of accounts discussed above.

Bnbtally connects Airbnb to QuickBooks and processes accounting data for each reservation. In Bnbtally, you’re able to set specific accounting rules for each listing. When a reservation is received from Airbnb, Bnbtally can create an invoice automatically in QuickBooks Online with all allocations processed, including Airbnb collections, property management commissions, cleaning fee allocations and any other split needed.

Bnbtally Listing Presets

In Bnbtally, once you’ve connected your Airbnb & QuickBooks account, you’ll then be guided to set up the accounting rules for each listing. When you select to edit the rules for a particular listing, Bnbtally will provide presets from our chart of accounts template, which can be loaded to facilitate a quick setup. These presets can be broken down into two main groups: Lines 1-6 and Lines 7-10.

Explanation of Preset Lines

Click to expand and learn more about each preset.

Lines 1-6: All amounts received by Airbnb are 100% allocated as revenue

This group of lines allocates 100% of all income from Airbnb as revenue to the business. This includes the accommodation fare, cleaning fee, Airbnb service fee (subtracted), any resolution adjustments, custom taxes (optional) and tax withholdings (if they exist)

Airbnb Price Item%Account
Accommodation Fare100%42100 – Rental Revenue: Airbnb Income – Accommodation Fare
Cleaning Fee100%42200 – Rental Revenue: Airbnb Income – Cleaning Fee
Airbnb Service Fee100%51100 – Rental Costs: Airbnb Service Fee
Resolution Adjustment100%42300 – Rental Revenue: Airbnb Income – Resolution Adjustment
Custom Taxes100%24200 – Rental Liability: Airbnb Custom Taxes Payable
Tax Withholdings100%61100 – Airbnb Tax Withholdings

This group of lines allocates 80% of the accommodation fare to the owner, it also allocates 80% of the Airbnb service fee, which is subtracted from the amounts owed to the owner.

Airbnb Price Item%Account
Accommodation Fare-80%51200 – Rental Costs: Airbnb Amounts Due to Owner
Accommodation Fare80%24100 – Rental Liability: Airbnb Owner Funds Payable
Airbnb Service Fee-80%51200 – Rental Costs: Airbnb Amounts Due to Owner
Airbnb Service Fee80%24100 – Rental Liability: Airbnb Owner Funds Payable
Example Reservation

Let’s say you have Bnbtally set up for this listing using the preset settings above. Let’s say Airbnb sends a payout for a current reservation with the following itinerary price items:

  • Accommodation Fare: $2000
  • Cleaning Fee: $300
  • Airbnb Service Fee: -$60
  • Airbnb Transient Occupancy Taxes: $200
  • Reservation Total: $2440

First, Bnbtally accounts for all the income received by Airbnb, separating out each price item. The total amount to be received from Airbnb for this reservation is $2440, which is allocated to the Airbnb Payment Clearing Account to be later reconciled against the resulting bank deposit.

AccountDebitCredit
42100 – Rental Revenue: Airbnb Income – Accommodation Fare$2000
42200 – Rental Revenue: Airbnb Income – Cleaning Fee$300
51100 – Rental Costs: Airbnb Service Fee$60
24200 – Rental Liability: Airbnb Custom Taxes Payable$200
11000 – Airbnb Payment Clearing Account (Asset)$2440

Next, Bnbtally calculates 80% of the Accommodation Fare ($2000 * 80% = $1600) and marks it as a cost payable to the owner. Then, Bnbtally calculates 80% of the Airbnb Service Fee (-$60 * 80% = -$48), subtracts this amount from the cost and removes it from what’s owed to the owner:

AccountDebitCredit
51200 – Rental Costs: Airbnb Amounts Due to Owner$1600
24100 – Rental Liability: Airbnb Owner Funds Payable$1600
51200 – Rental Costs: Airbnb Amounts Due to Owner$48
24100 – Rental Liability: Airbnb Owner Funds Payable$48

Finally, on the date the reservation payout is received from Airbnb into your Operations Bank Account (3-5 days later), a bank rule in QuickBooks can automatically reconcile the amount back to the Airbnb Payment Clearing Account:

AccountDebitCredit
1XXXX – Operations Bank Account$2440
11000 – Airbnb Payment Clearing Account (Asset)$2440

Set Invoice Customer & Class Categories

Finally, in your Bnbtally listing rules, we recommend to set the owner as the customer of the invoice. We also recommend to set the class category of each line item as “Owner Name: Listing Address” which means you should create two class categories in QuickBooks for this listing, one class category for the owner (set as the parent class) and the other class category for the listing address (set as the sub-class).

Automate Additional Bills & Invoices (Optional)

With Bnbtally, you’re also able to automate the creation of additional bills and invoices for each reservation. Consider the following:

  • Create a bill to set payouts payable to the property owner for each reservation.
  • Create a bill to set amounts payable to a tax authority for each reservation.
  • Create a bill to set amounts payable to a cleaning service for turnover of each reservation.
  • Create additional invoice to set amounts receivable by any third party for each reservation.

Quick Setup Steps

All of the above settings can be quickly set up using Bnbtally’s presets for your listings. Here’s how to set up these presets…

  1. If you haven’t already, Sign Up to Bnbtally.
  2. After logging into Bnbtally, set up your connections, then go to Listing Rules.
  3. Select any listing you’d like to automate that hasn’t already been set up.
  4. Upon selection, a popup will display, select “Load Presets”.
  5. In the next menu, select “Airbnb Property Management Alternative Accounting Method”.

From here, presets will be loaded as your listing accounting rules and you can edit as needed.


Airbnb Property Management: Common Transaction Workflows in QuickBooks

In this section, we describe the common transaction workflows as needed for Airbnb property management.

Paying Owners

A common transaction workflow to identify is paying Owners. The amount that needs to be paid to each owner can be found in the balance sheet by filtering the class for each owner. The amount can be found under “24100 – Rental Liability: Airbnb Owner Funds Payable”.

Example Transaction

You, the Airbnb property management company, are holding funds under “24100 – Rental Liability: Airbnb Owner Funds Payable” account in the amount of $20,000 for the owner, Kim Sorreno, for the listing 462 Atlas Way. You’d like to pay this amount to the owner as a result of a month-end report.

First, you’ll need to send the owner the money via bank transfer, ACH, check or other means. Once the transfer is posted and complete, reconcile the outgoing transaction from the Operations Bank Account using the following entry:

DebitCreditClass Category
1XXXX – Operations Bank Account (Asset)$20,000Kim Sorreno: 462 Atlas Way
24100 – Rental Liability: Airbnb Owner Funds Payable$20,000Kim Sorreno: 462 Atlas Way

1. Find the amount to pay

The amount that needs to be paid to each owner can be found in the balance sheet. Filtering the balance sheet by the class for each owner, look up the total amount under “24100 – Rental Liability: Airbnb Owner Funds Payable”.

2. Create Bill

VendorCategoryDescriptionClass
Kim Sorreno24100 – Rental Liability: Airbnb Owner Funds Payable“Owner Payout”Kim Sorreno: 462 Atlas Way
  • Set Vendor to the name of the owner
  • Set Category to “24100 – Rental Liability: Airbnb Owner Funds Payable”
  • Set Description to “Owner Payout”
  • Set Amount to the balance found in Step 1.
  • Set Class to owner’s name and listing

3. Transfer the amount from your operations bank account to the owner

Once you’ve verified the amount, go to your bank and send the money via bank transfer, ACH, check or other means.

4. Reconcile trust bank account amount with bill

Reconcile the bill with the bank feed in QuickBooks

Paying Expenses on Behalf of Owners

In many cases you’ll likely purchase items for the owner’s properties from your operations bank account, especially for smaller maintenance issues that need to be fixed quickly. If this is in your agreement, you can make the purchase directly from your operations bank account and then reconcile the bank line to subtract from the amount owed to the owner under “51200 – Rental Costs: Airbnb Amounts Due to Owner”.

Example

A property owned by Kim Sorreno needs a bathroom faucet to be replaced by a professional plumber. The service costs a total of $200 and needs to be rectified quickly as there are guests checking in later in the day. You also charge a 10% markup for allocating funds and handling these kinds of issues for the owner.

First, you’ll need to pay the plumbing company from your Operations Bank Account either via bank transfer, ACH, check, Venmo or other means. Once the transaction is posted and complete, record the outgoing transaction from your Operations Bank Account using the following entry:

DebitCreditClass Category
1XXXX – Operations Bank Account (Asset)$200Kim Sorreno: 462 Atlas Way
7XXXX – Billable Expenses (Expense)$200Kim Sorreno: 462 Atlas Way

Next, make an entry to deduct the amounts from the amount you owe the owner under “51200 – Rental Costs: Airbnb Amounts Due to Owner”. Include a 10% markup for coordinating & funding the service, and allocate it to your billable expenses income account. Use the following entry:

DebitCreditClass Category
51200 – Rental Costs: Airbnb Amounts Due to Owner$220Kim Sorreno: 462 Atlas Way
4XXXX – Billable Expenses Income (Revenue)$220Kim Sorreno: 462 Atlas Way

1. After paying the service provider, categorize and reconcile the transaction in your operations bank feed

PayeeCategoryDescriptionAmountClass
Plumber Pro7XXXX – Billable Expenses (Expense) “Billable Expense: Bathroom Faucet Replaced”$200Kim Sorreno: 462 Atlas Way

2. Create a Journal Entry

Include a 10% markup ($220 total)

AccountDebitCreditDescriptionNameClass
51200 – Rental Costs: Airbnb Amounts Due to Owner $220“Billable Expense: Bathroom Faucet Replaced”Kim SorrenoKim Sorreno: 462 Atlas Way
4XXXX – Billable Expenses Income (Revenue) $220“Billable Expense: Bathroom Faucet Replaced”Kim SorrenoKim Sorreno: 462 Atlas Way

Remitting Custom Taxes

In many jurisdictions, Airbnb will collect taxes and remit to local tax authorities on the owner’s behalf. However, you can opt to collect these taxes from Airbnb and remit them directly. If you’re using Bnbtally, the Custom Taxes line item found in our presets will take care of the allocation of custom taxes for each reservation. This section is about paying the local tax authorities the amounts owed.

Example

The owner, Kim Sorreno, has a listing at 462 Atlas Way, which Airbnb is set up to receive custom taxes for all reservations. In Bnbtally, these amounts are allocated to “24200 – Rental Liability: Airbnb Custom Taxes Payable”. After running a balance sheet report on this listing in QuickBooks, you see that $1000 is owed for transient occupancy taxes.

First, you’ll need to send your payment to the tax authority either via bank transfer, ACH, check or other means. Once the transaction is posted and complete, record the outgoing transaction from the Operations Bank Account using the following entry:

DebitCreditClass Category
1XXXX – Operations Bank Account (Asset)$1,000Kim Sorreno: 462 Atlas Way
24200 – Rental Liability: Airbnb Custom Taxes Payable$1,000Kim Sorreno: 462 Atlas Way

1. Check how much exists in the Custom Taxes Payable account for the owner

The amount that needs to be paid to the tax authority can be found in the balance sheet. Filtering the balance sheet by the class for each owner, look up the total amount under “24200 – Rental Liability: Airbnb Custom Taxes Payable”.

2. Create Bill

VendorCategoryDescriptionClass
Tax Authority24200 – Rental Liability: Airbnb Custom Taxes Payable“Taxes Paid: 11% City TOT”Kim Sorreno: 462 Atlas Way
  • Set the vendor of the bill to the name of the tax authority
  • Set the Product/Service to “24200 – Rental Liability: Airbnb Custom Taxes Payable”
  • Set a detailed description, starting with “Taxes: ” and describe the tax
  • Set the class to the owner’s name and listing

3. Transfer the amount from your operations bank account to the tax authority

Send the money via bank transfer, ACH, check or other means.

4. Reconcile operations bank account statement line amount with bill

Reconcile the bill with the bank feed in QuickBooks


Monthly Owner Statements & Reports for Airbnb Property Management

Now that our data is automatically processed from Airbnb and perfectly synced into QuickBooks, once you’ve reconciled any additional expenses, it’s quite simple to produce beautiful owner statements and reports each month.

Monthly Owner Statement by Listing

This statement can be sent to owners every month. It is grouped by class, which means it is focused on displaying activity details on a per listing, per owner basis. This helps owners see their earnings, per listing, in precise detail. Each line created by Bnbtally includes a reservation code and details of the transaction. Finally, a grand total due to the owner is displayed at the bottom.

In the following example, we’re showing an owner statement for a single owner, Kim Randall:

Quick Setup Steps

Here’s how to create this Owner Statement by Listing in QuickBooks Online:

  1. In QuickBooks Online, go to Reports, select “Transaction Detail by Account”
  2. Select the report period (perhaps the previous month)
  3. Select “Customize” and select the following
    • Under “Rows/Columns” select to Group by “Class”
    • Select “Change columns” and remove all columns except “Date”, “Memo/Description” and “Amount”
    • Under “Filter” select “Distribution Account” and select only the account “Rental Liability: Airbnb Owner Funds Payable”
    • Under “Filter” select “Class” and select the owner and their respective listings you want to report
  4. Sort by “Date” ascending order
  5. Select “Run Report”

From here this statement can be saved as a custom report and re-used every month for the owner.

Profit & Loss by Customer

This report is meant for internal purposes to view side-by-side, displaying the profitability of each customer for the property management firm. This report is found under QuickBooks “Reports” as “Profit and Loss by Customer”:


Conclusion

Processing the correct numbers to pay each owner requires the highest of integrity and a streamlined accounting process. Many jurisdictions do not require trust accounting, which is why many Airbnb property management companies choose to use the method of accounting discussed in this guide. This accounting method is far simpler to implement than trust accounting, plus all Airbnb revenues are claimed as income to the property management company, which makes it easier to obtain a business loan.

Regardless, this accounting method provides a great deal of transparency to owners. But more importantly, it provides you – the Airbnb property management company – a great deal of transparency into the success of your business.

We hope that you’ve received great value from this guide as you build your firm. To begin automating your Airbnb accounting, check the link below:

Finally, there are other business models that are not covered in this guide but are covered better in the following guides. Be sure to check these out :

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