Should I Start a Bed & Breakfast or Just Rent out My Suite?

Do you have an unused suite available in your home? If so, you may have looked at renting out that extra space in order to help to generate income.

Most of us know the pros of renting out a suite — long-term tenancy generates a consistent source of supplementary income, the suite requires minimal time and attention when occupied, and it provides the opportunity to get to know people as they come into your home.

However, for some, the preferable option may be to run a bed and breakfast in that extra space! This option is not one that seems obvious to many property owners, but in Start & Run a Bed & Breakfast, Monica and Richard Taylor lay out the basics of running a bed and breakfast and present it as a strong alternative to long-term rentals.


While renting is an excellent and well-known source of income,renting out a suite will only bring in a few hundred dollars a month renting out a suite will only bring in a few hundred dollars a month — not nearly enough to pay all the bills! The income generated from a singular room or suite is merely supplementary.

While ideal for full-time employees, the retired homeowner will not find much recompense in a long-term rental arrangement. A bed and breakfast, however, sees a rotation of customers — each lodger typically stays only a few nights and pays per night stayed. Depending on the quality of the suite and the services offered, a bed and breakfast might charge up to three figures per night!

A popular bed and breakfast can generate in a few days what a landlord generates in a month. However, the bed and breakfast owner may encounter a reduction in customers during the summer months. The seasonal nature of such businesses may not be ideal for anyone looking for steady, consistent income supplementation.


Of course, with a daily rotation of customers comes daily labour.

A bed and breakfast requires its owners to put in time for cooking and cleaning each day it hosts a guest, and also requires extra time to be set aside for marketing, bookkeeping, and many other administrative aspects of running a business!

The very words “bed and breakfast” illuminate a fundamental difference between renting and lodging: the provision of food.

For a bed and breakfast, breakfast must be made for guests following each night they stay. This can be both complex and costly, each guest may want breakfast at a different time each dayas guests may have allergies or simply picky tastes. Several breakfast options must be made available — and given that all people operate differently, each guest may want breakfast at a different time each day. This is a problem that can be easily avoided by providing a window of time in which guests must appear for breakfast each morning, but nonetheless, there is a time commitment required to cook for your guests each morning.

Further, the bed and breakfast owner must clean the suite after a guest’s departure — before the arrival of the next guest! This involves changing the bed, cleaning surfaces, vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom, and so forth — and, often, it must be done quickly! Of course, neither of these are concerns for landlords. Unless it is a homestay arrangement, tenants would typically be expected to cook for themselves and clean up their own suite.

The amount of time involved in running a bed and breakfast makes it not an ideal arrangement for a full-time working professional. In addition, a bed and breakfast is a small business — which means that to be successful, it has to be marketed, smooth in operation, and well-kept financially. Administrative duties require additional time on a weekly or monthly basis in order to keep the business running.

Social Considerations

As with any situation where you invite new persons into your home, you run the risk of giving up privacy — both yours and that of your family.

Renting out a suite entails less interaction between landlord and tenant; apart from a monthly cheque, it’s possible that a landlord and tenant will see each other very rarely! With a bed and breakfast, however, the owner is playing host; getting the guests organized; socializing; having them in your home; and making them breakfast the following day.

For some, this is desirable! If you are a “people person,” a bed and breakfast might provide a fantastic way to meet someone new almost daily. However, if you are a very private person and prefer to keep to yourself, it may be very irksome to introduce a new guest to your home on a near-daily basis.

Conclusion: Rental or B&B Suite?

Some people are very well suited to running a bed and breakfast; others make much more natural landlords. If you’re a “people person” who enjoys meeting people daily, appreciates the strong income associated with daily customers, and have the time to spend on a small business, a bed and breakfast is a wonderful option!

For the more private and/or professional individual, renting out that extra space is an excellent way to generate consistent, supplementary income without running oneself into the ground with daily responsibilities.

Aboutstart-bed-and-breakfast-cover Monica and Richard Taylor owned and operated a successful bed and breakfast for more than 14 years. The Taylors also served on their town’s bed and breakfast bylaw review committee and are active in promoting the concept of B & B in North America.

The book they wrote to help others enter the business, Start & Run a Bed & Breakfast has been in print for many years and is now in its fourth edition. You can learn more about the book, read the table of contents, and view sample content in our Web store.

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