How to become an Airbnb Host: 11 essential tips to get you started. - Pikl

How to become an Airbnb Host: 11 essential tips to get you started.

Estimated Read: 10 minutes.

Thinking of listing your property on Airbnb? There is more to being a host than just taking some photos and listing your property online. Here are 11 essential tips that will set you on your way to from beginner to Airbnb expert.

1 . Check the law in your area

Local regulations around Airbnb and short term letting vary depending on where you live in the UK. In London, a 90 day restriction applies, meaning that no property can be let out on Airbnb for more than 90 days in a year. Similar proposals for potential future restrictions have been well reported elsewhere and so it is important to check you are up to date.

If your property is in Northern Ireland, it may be illegal to list your property on sites like Airbnb unless you are certified by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board. If you are unsure whether you fit into one of their tourist accommodation categories, check out their website or get in contact with them.

Fire safety regulations also apply if your property is in Scotland, Northern Ireland or England and Wales if you let your property out to guests.

2 . You probably need specialist insurance

Our research has shown most home insurers do not provide adequate cover for Airbnb. If you have landlord insurance, you might not be covered either. The cover that Airbnb provides is also limited. If your property is covered by second home or holiday home insurance, the cover provided by these types of insurance policies for claims caused by paying guests that stay at your property is usually inadequate. Check with your insurer first. If you need more cover, a specialist broker such as Pikl may be able to help you.

3 . How much work do you intend to put in?

Whilst there are high rewards, being an Airbnb host can be a lot of work. Even if you intend to only do it part-time, you will be responsible for tasks like changing sheets, meeting guests and logging records. If you intend to have guests regularly then that is a lot of work on a recurring basis. Alternatively, if you rent your entire house out then it may be easier to be a landlord and have long term tenants. In our Airbnb vs Landlord article, we weigh up the pros and cons so you can decide. Another option if you intend to have regular guests is to get a host management company to manage your property for you. They will do tasks on your behalf including meeting guests and cleaning but it is important to factor in the cost of hiring someone to do this.

4 . Get in the mind of your guests

Think about the location of where your property is based. Is it a holiday location? A popular destination for events? Find out where the local amenities and attractions are. Not only can this make your listing description more informative and attractive to guests, but it can also get you thinking about what kind of guests you want to attract. Do you want to attract couples or individuals? Business people or travellers? Think about what type of property these people might like and present your listing accordingly.

Once you have thought about your area and what kind of guests you want to attract you can start thinking about what prices you want to set. You do not have to set it to the lowest price as this may send the wrong signals. If your area that is quite popular or you think you could attract guests with more money then a higher price may be more appropriate as guests may be expecting this. Another thing to consider is any additional potential fees you may wish to charge. Would you incorporate a cleaning fee as part of the charge for the room or charge this separately? Are there any other fees to consider such as a late check in or pet fee? Crucial to making these decisions is checking out your competition.

5 . Check out the competition

Look at the current listings in your area. What prices have they set? How have they presented their property? What amenities do they list? This is vital research you should be doing before you list your property online. What do they do well? What do they do poorly? Write down a list and think about potential unique selling points that might make your listing stand out from the others.

6 . Is your space equipped for renting?

Providing happy guest experiences is key to being a good host. Put your health and safety hat on and go over your home with a fine tooth comb to make sure there are no hidden dangers lurking. Broken mattress springs, broken fire or carbon monoxide detectors, trip hazards and exposed wires should all be fixed.

Make it easy for your guests. Is your door handle easy to turn? Do all your lights work? Consider fixing the little quirks you take for granted or leave instructions behind.

Guests not only expect a clean, tidy space, they are looking for a hotel or B&B experience. Consider whether you are going to provide tea and coffee making facilities, Wi-Fi, a TV or any other home comforts. Tidy away any personal belongings or items which people may find offensive or distasteful. Remember your ideal guest and think about leaving them a list of local amenities and attractions in the area as a nice personal touch.

A great way to ensure you have covered every potential hiccup is to get a friend or family member to stay over for a few nights and let them rate you on your room and hosting. There may be some things you have missed in your own inspections.

7. Setting up your account

Now your space is ready for visitors, you can start creating your listing. All you need to do is click on the ‘Host a Home’ option and enter all the relevant details about your room. However, creating a listing that draws visitors in takes a little more effort. You can do this with good photography and a compelling description.

Getting your photography right is a key step. Is the lighting right? Does the room look smaller than it is? Or bigger? Have you managed to highlight any unique amenities you have to offer? Your listing photos will be the main thing potential guests look at and if these are not up to scratch they may not even read your description. If photography is not your thing, Airbnb offers a professional photography service in some areas.

The second crucial step for creating an appealing listing is with a great description. Start by thinking back to the notes you wrote about your ideal guest and the competition in your local area.  Your description should inform people of the important information, facilities available and any unique offerings. Secondly, you want to ensure that it is easy to read, with short, concise paragraphs. Finally, make sure you check your spelling and grammar.

8 . Setting up your calendar

When creating your listing, you will be given the option to fill in your hosting availability calendar. Decide the dates your room will be available for rent and set this out from the start. Remember to keep this updated. You do not want to have to cancel bookings because you forgot to block out the weekend your in-laws are coming to stay!

If you list your property across multiple platforms such as HomeAway and Booking.com then consider syncing your calendar so that you do not overbook by accident.

9. Create your T & Cs

Having people stay in your property can seem like a daunting experience, which is why you should always ensure that you have any terms and conditions and house rules in place before you start accepting guests into your home. Setting boundaries is important but also make sure they are reasonable. If your rules are perceived as being over the top, your guests may choose to ignore them anyway.

10 . Promote your property

If you are serious about Airbnb hosting, or you have already set up your listing but are struggling to get bookings, it may be worth promoting your listing across other platforms. You can promote your listing on Facebook, Google and LinkedIn to showcase your property. Not only will this increase the likelihood of your place being seen, it is also a great trust marker for potential guests, by showing them you are legitimate and not a scammer. Consider also listing your property on other hosting sites such as Booking.com and HomeAway.

11 . Think about tax

Whether you intend to do Airbnb as a full time job or a side venture, it is essential to check how your tax might be affected. If you are just renting out a room in your house, the Rent a Room Scheme allows you to earn up to £7,500 a year tax free. Alternatively, if you own the property that you are renting, you can choose to deduct expenses and have the first £1,000 that you earn tax free instead. If you plan to rent out your property commercially as a holiday let for the majority of the year, your property may qualify as a furnished holiday let. If you find tax confusing, it may be best to consult with an accountant or HMRC if you are not sure what is the best option for you.