Thanks to Airbnb, millions of people turn to its hosts to find somewhere to stay when travelling. It’s become a fun way to meet people and explore new places – and for the hosts, it’s become a savvy way to earn a bit of extra cash.
But what exactly is the Airbnb concept all about and is it safe?
It started a decade ago when two roommates decided to start a casual B&B from their San Francisco flat to help make ends meet. They simply provided three air mattresses and homemade breakfast to guests looking for cheap accommodation in the city. They built a website, added more properties and Airbnb was born. Since 2008 it has turned the accommodation business on its head, spawning a whole new sector of the industry –home hosting.
You can now find a room or property through Airbnb in thousands of cities around the world. The UK has become its fifth largest geography with the number of people staying in Airbnbs here shooting up by more than 80 percent last year. According to Airbnb, the typical UK host now earns around £3,000 a year hosting for an average of 36 nights.
It’s no surprise then that more of us consider renting out the spare room or even our entire home. It’s no surprise either that this isn’t without its pitfalls so here are a few things to think about to make sure that it works and is safe for you.
- If you have a mortgage, check the terms and make your lender aware that you’re renting out all or part of your home. Many will likely to grant permission but it’s not worth the risk of breaking their rules – it could potentially cost you the roof over your head if you do!
- Tell your insurer what you are planning. Most will say it’s fine however most won’t cover some of the basic risks such as accidental damage by a guest or theft of valuables. And while Airbnb does offer some guarantees, it strongly recommends that hosts take out separate insurance to cover the gaps. Check out CoverBuilder’s innovative new home hosting insurance to find out the great cover we offer for less than £50 a year.
- Chose the right home hosting site to generate business. Airbnb is by far and away the biggest and its hosts apparently receive more bookings from their Airbnb listing than from other sites but there are others such as Wimdu.
- Be realistic about the time you’re willing to commit – while the website does all the work to get guests in, you will need to engage with them and clear up after them to deliver a great experience to generate positive reviews and attract future guests.
- Vet your guests to weed out potential crooks or fraudsters. Airbnb does offer a verified ID process which is definitely worth looking at.
Home hosting isn’t without its risks, but done properly and done safely, can deliver great reward.