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How to Airbnb your home: tips from the superhosts

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Whether you’re looking to earn extra cash or fancy an alternative to renting your spare room or property, Airbnb could be just the ticket.

  • Make some extra cash from renting a room or property on Airbnb 
  • Research local listings on Airbnb to get to grips with being a host
  • Check with your home insurance, mortgage providers and local regulations

How to Airbnb your home: tips from the superhosts

With the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) affecting the way we live, work and socialise, it’s fair to assume that holidaying will look a little different for a while too, with many of us choosing to holiday closer to home this year. This increase in holidaymakers taking a low key ‘staycation’ over an all-inclusive trip abroad, opens up an opportunity to Airbnb your home. 

LV= home insurance can cover you if you choose to Airbnb your home, so you can rent out one or two bedrooms to a maximum of four guests for up to 60 days per year. We’ll cover you for loss or damage caused by your paying guests but we won’t cover the belongings of your paying guests. Remember, you need to let us know that you plan on renting a room and you must be there the entire duration of your guests’ stay for your cover to be valid.  So, if you’re thinking of turning your home into an Airbnb this year, let’s take a look at what’s what…

‘A decade ago the idea of staying in someone’s home while on holiday or travelling for work would have been completely alien,’ says James McClure, general manager of Airbnb in Northern Europe. But since its launch in the UK in 2009, Airbnb has boomed, and according to the company’s fast facts page, there are over 7 million Airbnb listings across over 100,000 cities worldwide.

How to get started on Airbnb

It’s free to list your home, room or space (shepherd’s huts, boats and even windmills are available). Start by checking out the competition – how other local homes are marketed, the images they use and the nightly rate. Airbnb will help you with pricing, descriptions and photographs. Have a good tidy up, put away clutter and make your home look as it will when your guests arrive.

For hosts, Airbnb takes a 3% fee, while guests are charged up to 20% on their bookings, including a cleaning and service fee, and money changes hands securely. 

Does your home insurance cover Airbnb?

Before you ‘go live’, it’s important to check your home insurance, inform your mortgage provider and research local regulations (in London, for example, hosting is limited to 90 days per year). If you’re in a leasehold property, also check with your landlord/leaseholder. 

‘Always tell your insurance company if you plan to put your home on Airbnb,’ recommends Jacqui Carter, household underwriter with LV=. ‘Firstly, they may not cover you if you decide to use it for that purpose, and you don’t want to find that out after you need to make a claim that won’t be paid. Secondly, if they do cover that type of use there will most likely be additional terms that you’ll need to follow, or need to know, such as a reduced number of bedrooms can be used and that the guests’ contents aren’t covered.’

 

LV= has started offering Airbnb cover to home insurance customers. Remember; LV= won’t insure you for renting out your entire property on Air BnB. So, to be eligible, you have to agree to the following terms:

  • The property continues to be your main home where you normally live
  • Rooms in your home won’t be rented out for more than 60 days a year
  • There will be no more than four guests staying at any one time 
  • No more than two bedrooms will be used by guests

‘We’ll cover loss and damage caused by paying guests, so if they were to throw a party which resulted in damage or vandalised the property in any way this is covered,’ says Jacqui.

‘We won’t cover theft or attempted theft while there are guests staying, unless there is proof of force or violence to break into the home. We also won’t cover any items belonging to the guests, for example, if there was a water leak that ruined the guests’ luggage they brought with them.’

Get ready for your guests

There’s quite a lot to do behind the scenes when you rent your home, including:

  • tidying up all clutter, cleaning the house from top to bottom
  • making room in your fridge and food cupboards for your visitors
  • leaving out fresh towels and ironing linen, as well as basics such as soap and loo roll

The premise of Airbnb is to try to help your guests feel comfortable in your home and have as good a time in your home town as possible.

‘Nowadays, we no longer want to rely on pamphlets and search engines: we want real people giving us real tips. We want to get under the skin of a destination while enjoying the comfort of a place that feels like home,’ says Airbnb’s James McClure. 

I rent my own house in Lymington, Hampshire, and I leave a folder of leaflets for local attractions, an Ordnance Survey map, a timetable for the local ferry to the Isle of Wight, and a sheet of notes on my favourite walks, pubs, cafés and restaurants, as well as taxi numbers and details of the local hospital.

The summer months and weekends get busy, so when guests book I ask if they’d like any restaurant reservations and let them know the secret local’s ‘back route’ into town to avoid heavy traffic.

Rent a room, your whole house or an annexe

According to the Airbnb fun facts page, over 2 million people are staying in an Airbnb on an average night. 

Chef and mum of two-year-old twins, Andrea Barnett runs The Burrows B&B from a three-room annexe to her home in Braunton, Devon and most guests come via her Airbnb listing.‘It’s the perfect solution as a part-time job because I can work it around being a full-time mum and it gives me flexibility,’ says Andrea. ‘I chat to guests online first and make sure our property is the right one for them and help them with anything they need before they arrive – plus it is very secure.’ 

How can I ‘vet’ who is staying?

Hosts and guests are rated on each visit, so if you find a guest has been difficult to communicate or hasn’t left your home as you’d like, you can give honest feedback after their visit – but remember they will be doing the same to you. Your guests will rate you on value for money, among other factors, so hosts must be mindful of what their property is really worth.

Single mum and part-time travel journalist Nicola Hall rents a house in Fulham when she is away on work trips or holiday with her son.

‘It helps bring in some extra income while I’m away,’ she says. ‘Although it’s a fair bit of work preparing the house, it feels good to know it is being lived in by nice people who I have contact with, not left empty.’

Become a ‘Superhost’

If you go above and beyond for your guests, Airbnb will grant you ‘Superhost’ status, which gives guests quality assurance on their stay. Among the criteria on which you’ll be judged are value for money, cleanliness, speed of communication, whether you cancel any bookings and how often you rent your home.

Superhosts not only earn more money (from more bookings), but they receive priority placement on Airbnb.com and are searchable via a dedicated ‘Superhost’ filter. 

Declare your earnings

One final word of advice: you must declare your earnings to Inland Revenue. Airbnb makes calculating your income easy within the site, but it’s best to consult an accountant regarding how much tax, if any, you must pay.

In the UK there is tax relief on renting one room in your house, but the rules — and interpretation of them — differs when you rent a whole house or an annex/area within your property.

All in all, Airbnb is a fun, flexible and rewarding way to meet new people and earn some extra money from your home – just be sure you’ve got the time to prep your property and make your guests feel welcome.

 

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