Is being an Airbnb host right for me?

More and more people are considering it. But how easy is hosting? Will your mortgage provider object? And what about insurance? Read on for the answers.

How safe is Airbnb hosting?

Airbnb can seem like a great way to make a bit of extra cash. The website reassures you that all guests are verified before they can make a reservation.

Plus you can read their reviews before you accept the booking. So why does the occasional horror story still make it into the papers?

What you’re about to learn

We can help you avoid the problem tenants, and make sure your home and your property are protected. We’ll also give you some tips on being an Airbnb host, whether it’s your first time renting or you’re an experienced landlord.

Do I need special insurance as an Airbnb host?

Airbnb offers a ‘Host Guarantee’ which gives you $1 million of property damage protection. But it’s not the same as home insurance. It covers damage to your home by an Airbnb guest, but there are some serious limits on what’s protected.

What Airbnb won’t protect you from

As an example, the actual room you’re renting out is covered, but not the common areas of the house or building. The simple rule is: if it’s not part of the listing it’s not protected.

And some valuable items like art, antiques and cash aren’t covered either. So definitely don’t leave your wallet lying around.

Is Host Protection Insurance enough?

Airbnb have also introduced $1 million of Host Protection Insurance, to cover you for third-party injury or property damage claims. It’s included in your host fee but watch out for the exclusions again – including pollution, mould damage and motor vehicle accidents.

Don’t assume you’re covered – ask your insurer

This is really important if you’re renting out the whole place. If you don’t tell your insurance company, they could refuse to pay out on an insurance claim, even if it’s got nothing to do with Airbnb. The law says you have a duty to tell your insurer any facts that might affect your risk.

Insurance for occasional room renting

Some insurance companies offer a ‘host insurance’ upgrade – for a price – if you’re only renting out a room every so often. With others, taking guests might be allowed from time to time. But any related claims could be excluded. So it’s always smart to check.

Renting your whole place is harder If you’re planning to rent your entire home, the insurance company may not be quite so helpful. They might not cover you at all. Or they’ll charge you a large sum to extend your current home insurance policy. And that reduces the profit you can make from renting.

Should I get specialist landlord cover?

It’s definitely worth thinking about. Especially if you’re planning to rent out your home for long periods. Shop around and make sure you’re comparing like-for-like. Some companies tempt you with low prices. Then when you need to make a claim, you find you’re not actually covered for even the most basic risks.

We’re here to help if you need us

When we created landlord insurance from British Gas, we got together with AXA, one of the UK’s leading insurance companies, to bring you peace of mind at a reasonable price. If you’re already a British Gas customer, you could even get your first two months free of charge.

Will my mortgage company let me rent out my home on Airbnb?

The short answer is maybe not. Particularly if you’re hoping to let the whole place on a regular basis. Most mortgage contracts have a rule against renting out any part of the property without the lender’s permission. So you’ll almost always have to ask them.

Occasional renting is usually easier

Some mortgage lenders will let you rent a room every so often. But talk to them before you start the process of creating your listing on Airbnb. They might agree, but they probably have the right to say no if they want to.

What should I do before I rent my home out on Airbnb?

So you’ve sorted out your insurance. And got your mortgage company’s approval to rent your place out. Now how do you get your home ready for paying guests?

Fix anything that’s not working

It’s time to do all those jobs you’ve been putting off. The bathroom door that doesn’t lock. The toilet that only flushes if you jiggle the handle.

If you need to get someone in, we can recommend a trusted local expert. We’ll even guarantee their work for 12 months.

What should I do before creating my Airbnb account?

If you don’t have an Airbnb account you’ll need to create one. You can complete a few sections of the listings form before you set one up to get an idea of how much to rent to charge.

Or you can check out similar places on the site already. You’ll get a pretty good idea of what they’re like from the description and photos. You might even find your neighbours have a listing.

Once you’ve signed up to be a host, complete the rest of the form to list your home.

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The 8 steps to create your listing

1. List your space

The button to get started is at the top right corner of the home page. You’ll be asked about your home or the room you want to rent out. You’ll also need to list the area you’re in and how many people you can host.

2. Create a calendar

There are three options. To list your place indefinitely click ‘Always’. To opt for specific dates or time periods click ‘Sometimes’. And for a single fixed period choose ‘One time’. Remember to keep your calendar updated so people know when your place is available.

3. Choose your price

Airbnb will suggest a price. If you’re a new host they’ll encourage you to start below market rate, to get people to give you a try. Once you’ve built up some good reviews, you can start to nudge the price up. Remember to factor in cleaning costs.

4. Write a description

Airbnb call this the Overview. You’ll need to create a short title of up to 35 characters, and a description of your place in less than 250 characters. Not sure what to write? Check out some similar places and see which ones tempt you to book.

5. Add photos

Great pictures will get you bookings. And the main photo is vital because that’s what will come up in search results. If you can’t afford a professional photographer, why not ask a camera-savvy friend to help you? It could make all the difference. Shoot at high-resolution.

6. Describe the amenities

Airbnb will show you a long list of suggestions to put on your listing – from common things like TV and Wi-Fi through to added extras like a pool or hot tub. They’ll even ask if you’re offering breakfast. Don’t worry though, it’s not essential.

7. Double-check everything

You’ve already filled in most of the details so now’s the time to check them thoroughly and do a final edit to make everything as persuasive as possible. Show your listing to an honest friend and ask if they’d stay there. And if not, why not?

8. Add your location

Type in your address and Airbnb will autofill the location form for you. Your exact details won’t be visible on your listing, you only need to give them out when you accept a booking. Potential guests will just see a circle with an approximate location.

9. Go live

Once you’re happy with your listing, you’re ready to go live on Airbnb.

A final vital tip – be honest

Be totally truthful with your description. If you misrepresent your place, your guests will soon tell you – and everyone else. And bad reviews can kill your chances of becoming a successful long-term host.

Honesty really is the best policy

Honesty really is the best policy Once bad reviews are on your listing, there’s no way to remove them. And you’ll need five times more good reviews to counter the effects of angry one-star rants in capital letters.

So never be tempted to exaggerate or bend the truth. Focus your energy on going the extra mile and giving people an amazing stay. Thoughtful touches go a long way. Good luck!

Want to know more?

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