03/05/2012 07:17 am ET

Rent A Spare Room Or Empty Apartment For Cash

Welcome back to A Dollar A Day, where every day we'll dish out creative and quirky ways to save on your living expenses.

If making last month's rent was a struggle or you're a bit behind on your mortgage payments, we've found a partial solution: employ yourself as a landlord.

On Airbnb you can advertise a spare room in your home to travelers looking for a couch to crash on.

We like the social factor of the site, which allows you to gauge how reliable a potential renter will be based on how many positive reviews they've gotten from other members. The site will also tell you if a member's phone number has been verified as well as how many Facebook friends and Twitter followers a member has.

What's not so hot is Airbnb's service fee: 3 percent for hosts and 6-12 percent (!) for guests.

Roomorama is a good alternative. It's free for hosts, though it charges an 8-12 percent fee to renters.

Craigslist is a totally free way for renters to hook up with travelers looking for a place to stay, though the site has no formal vetting process and payments are made directly between hosts and guests.

Of course, by welcoming a stranger into your home, you're taking on risks. Guests may cancel at the last minute and you may be left cleaning up after them. Airbnb says they'll cover the cost of personal property lost or damaged by guests up to $50,000, so if your apartment is ransacked or overtaken by meth addicts, you'll be paid back.

Note: Rental income is not taxable if you lease for less than 15 days out of the year!

Have you used short-term rental site? We'd love to hear about your experiences.

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