Airbnb has revolutionised the way we travel but has also created a whole new class of budding entrepreneurs; the so-called rentrepreneurs. These are ambitious property owners who have decided to top their incomes up by renting out anything from spare rooms in their houses or flats, to an entire house or any number of other spaces from caravans and yurts to wooden shacks deep in the wilderness.
The success of Airbnb is one of several disruptive technologies that have taken the internet by storm. It’s not surprising then that this brave new world comes with a lot of questions, whether about being a good host or how to get the best out of the guest experience.
This set of FAQs represents some of the most common…
How do I list my property on Airbnb?
It’s quite straightforward to sign up for an Airbnb account and then add a listing by clicking the “List My Space” button. You can upload pictures, add information about your listing and its location and choose whether to accept instant bookings or whether you prefer to vet guests by going through the booking request procedure. Once your listing is live, make sure you keep it up to date and respond to any queries as quickly as possible as fast response times boost your ranking.
How do I receive payment?
Airbnb collects payment on your behalf and strongly discourages direct cash payments. Money is held for 24 hours after check in at which point payment is transferred directly to your bank, minus Airbnb’s 3% fee, which is payable on every booking.
Is Airbnb legal?
If you have a mortgage, then it’s up to you to check the legality of listing your home on Airbnb with your lender. Many mortgage companies won’t allow Airbnb lets (at least not without incurring fees), but there is evidence that the industry is adapting to the Airbnb market. If you rent your property then you will need to contact your landlord but be warned, most leases in the UK forbid subletting. If you own your home outright, check the Planning Portal for information on change of use.
Do I need to pay taxes on my Airbnb?
Under the UK Government’s Rent a Room scheme you can earn up to £7,500 tax-free every year by letting out a room in your house. If your Airbnb listing earns you more than that amount then you will need to file a tax return with HMRC (although you can offset certain house expenses against your earnings).
How can I boost my listing?
Earning good reviews is the best way to boost your listings and there are plenty of ways you can do it that don’t cost a fortune. A basket of fruit and good tea and coffee, a bottle of wine and fresh flowers can all welcome your guests. Provide the best quality bedding and towels you can afford and always leave nice toiletries in the bathroom, Information and recommendations for your area are always appreciated and you might even consider leading an Airbnb Experience locally.
What happens if something goes wrong?
Airbnb offers a Hosts Guarantee but it’s worth reading the terms and conditions to see exactly what’s covered. The best thing to do is to check your home insurance and talk to a specialist insurer to make sure your property is protected. Because Airbnb is a community built on trust, it pays to offer as complete a profile as possible and get verified as part of your hosting experience. Use the tools that Airbnb provides to vet your guests discreetly before accepting any bookings. You can also choose from one of five graded refund policies and use the Airbnb Resolution Centre to resolve any disputes in a timely manner.
How do I book an Airbnb?
Remember that when you book through Airbnb you’re staying in someone’s home, so the first thing to do before you view any listings is to complete your profile so your host knows a little bit about you. When you find a listing you like you can either book instantly or go through the booking approval process. You can pay using major credit and debit cards and services such as PayPal.
Should I communicate with my host outside Airbnb?
No, you shouldn’t. The Airbnb management community is designed to protect both hosts and guests, so make the most of profiles and verifications and the communication tools provided. Same goes for making payments – always pay through Airbnb and never offer your hosts cash.
Do I have to pay the security deposit?
Yes, you do. This is the host’s way of protecting their property from damage. You’ll also pay a 6-12% service fee when you make your booking and you may also be asked to pay a cleaning fee. All fees should be clearly explained when you book but you’ll pay extra if you change your reservation.
Any tips for finding a good place to stay?
The first thing to do with any listing is to read it from start to finish so you know exactly what’s on offer. Some hosts will even bury a code phrase in their listings so they know you’ve read it thoroughly. Then check out the reviews and your host’s verifications and references. Get familiar with their cancellation policy too so you won’t be in for any nasty surprises. Always use Airbnb for payments and communications and if something doesn’t feel right, walk away from the booking.
Should I tip my host?
Tipping isn’t necessary but gifts like wine, chocolate and cake are always appreciated and are certainly a very good way of getting a really great review from your host.
What if I have a problem?
Communicate with your hosts as quickly as possible – nothing’s worse than telling your hosts everything is fine and then giving them a poor review about an issue you didn’t give them the chance to resolve. However, if there is a genuine problem – for example, your host asked for extra payments that weren’t mentioned at the time of booking or the accommodation is unsafe or doesn’t match up to the listing – use the Resolution Centre to settle the dispute.
Any hints on being a good guest?
An Airbnb rental isn’t like a hotel – you’re often staying in your host’s home, so don’t treat them like the concierge. Let them know if you’re likely to miss your scheduled arrival if you’re delayed and clean up after yourself by taking away any rubbish and stripping the bed. Always respect the power of the review as well; by all means, leave negative feedback if you’ve had a genuinely bad experience but don’t blame your host if there’s bad weather or you didn’t like the city you were staying in, as these are things outside of their control.
Thinking about letting your property on Airbnb?
For free impartial advice get in touch to see how we can help you maximise your rental income or read more about our Airbnb and short-term lettings management services.