Airbnb rules UK: how to be a responsible host - Pikl

Airbnb rules UK: how to be a responsible host

Airbnb hosting is an exciting and often lucrative opportunity. However, it’s not a simple case of opening up your home and watching the money roll in. Becoming a host has its own set of rules and responsibilities, some of which are set by Airbnb while others are simply expected by guests. 

These expectations are even more apparent when considering how much of a market leader Airbnb has become. Guests in the UK choosing an Airbnb often make a conscious decision over hotels and guesthouses – selecting your property for the things we have all come to expect from Airbnb hosts. 

So what are all these rules and requirements? How can you set up as a host and nail not only the regulations expected by Airbnb but also delight guests to receive great reviews? Keep reading to learn how to be a responsible host in this comprehensive guide. 

General rules and regulations

Polite hosting tips

Taxes

Insurance

Regional regulations

Hosting requirements FAQs

General rules and regulations

As Airbnb is a global company, it doesn’t have its own country-specific rules. Instead, Airbnb regulations are governed by the country they’re listed in. Here in the UK, the rules you need to be aware of include: 

  1. You’ll need to check with your mortgage provider if you plan to become a host. Violating the rules of your mortgage contract can lead to increased fees or other issues. 
  2. If you’re renting, check with the landlord as you are unlikely to be able to rent a room without their permission.
  3. If you own a property but not the freehold, you’ll need your leaseholder’s permission to let your room. That means you may own your apartment, but the building owner can stop you from becoming an Airbnb host. 
  4. Fire safety rules for each country in the UK are strict and must be followed closely if you’re going to become a host. 
  5. If you’re letting your property full-time and not living in it, you may need to change it to a ‘change of use’ class under planning rules. 

Some local authorities are also restrictive over who can run an Airbnb and for how long. In Greater London, for example, no property can be let as an Airbnb for more than 90 days. 

Cleaning and hygiene are important factors for Airbnb hosts – especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hosts must maintain a high level of cleanliness and comply with the local government standards on cleanliness and hygiene. You should consider signing up for Quality in Tourism’s ‘Safe, Clean & Legal’ scheme, which seeks to raise standards in hospitality.

Polite hosting tips 

Here at Pikl we have great relationships with Superhosts who trust us to manage their insurance needs for their short lets. Here are some useful tips on being a responsible host: 

Practice regular communication

Contact a guest as soon as they book to acknowledge their booking and confirm any queries they may have. As their booking gets closer, contact them again to check everything is as planned and what their expected check-in time will be. 

Greet guests in person

Check your guests in personally where possible. It adds a genuine human touch and gives everyone the opportunity to ask questions and have issues solved before they cause a problem.

Be approachable

As a responsible host, you have some level of duty to ensure your guests are happy during their stay. That could mean checking in with them if you don’t live in your property or just being available in any communal areas to answer questions from time to time if you do live there. 

Taxes

Virtually every employee and business owner in the UK pays some form of tax. Airbnb is no exception. As an Airbnb host, you’ll earn additional income – which is usually counted as taxable in the eyes of HMRC except in specific circumstances. Your let may be subject to income tax, business rates, VAT or corporation tax, depending on how it is set up. As a responsible host, it is your duty to assess your own tax obligations. 

Here’s a quick summary of the main considerations – though we would encourage you to review Airbnb’s own comprehensive guide. 

Declaration of earnings

You can use HMRC’s website to see if you need to declare your Airbnb earnings. Tax forms are due by the 31st of January each year – so you’ll be able to use your Airbnb host earnings summary page to see what you’ve earned in that period.  

Business rates

If your property is available to let for more than 140 days per year, the government classes you as running a self-catering property subject to business rates. These rates vary depending on location, size and type of property. 

Tax relief initiatives

The UK government has a tax-free earning threshold in effect from the ‘Rent-a-Room Scheme’ which allows you to earn up to £7,500 without paying tax by sharing space in your primary residence. There’s a separate property allowance scheme if you earn below £1000. Both of these are subject to specific criteria, so you’ll need to check carefully to see if you qualify.. 

VAT

Value-added tax is a requirement for any business with a VAT taxable turnover of more than £85,000 – whether you’ve already earned over that amount or you know that you will by the end of the financial year. VAT is charged at 20%, and unfortunately, Airbnb received no specific discounts aimed at the hospitality industry during the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.. 

Insurance 

Most standard home insurance policies don’t adequately cover a host for the many types of Airbnb-related claims you may need to make. In addition, theft and malicious damage can be a tricky issue if you’ve invited guests into your home as a short let, with many insurers unable to cover this. Some may even cancel your policy if they know you’re operating an Airbnb. 

Airbnb’s own cover is likewise not adequate. Their damage protection is not insurance and their cover has many exclusions. It doesn’t offer the same protections or cover as specialist insurance policy.

Instead, responsible hosts should consider separate Airbnb insurance such as the cover we offer at Pikl. This cover isn’t like standard home insurance as it focuses on specific issues relevant to hosts, such as: 

Theft, accidental & malicious damage. 

Fire & escape of water damage.

Up to £2 million liability cover in case of guest injury

Legal cover to help with instances such as evicting a guest who won’t leave voluntarily

With Pikl, you can get insurance just for hosting, or cover for your main insurance also in one complete package. Click on the button below to find out more and get a quote today. 

Regional regulations

Specific areas in the UK place unique demands on hosts. London, for example, restricts short-term rental for 90 nights or less. If you let your property for longer than that, you must register a change of use planning request. Airbnb automatically limits hosts from listing longer than 90 days in Greater London unless you can prove you have planning permission. Blackpool is the only other English city where restrictions can apply, with a planning document outlining Holiday Accommodation Areas you can review here

Scotland has specific regulations, too – Edinburgh requires all hosts that don’t live in their property to obtain planning permission as a ‘short-term let’. Plans discussed in early 2022 may also see a short-term let control area introduced to Edinburgh. Glasgow has unique requirements that state a property may need a change of use planning request if it is a flat used frequently to provide short stay accommodation. Guidance is available here. 

Elsewhere, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey all have specific considerations to bear in mind if you’re a host. Take a look at Airbnb’s own guide to learn more. 

Hosting requirements FAQS

Still got some unanswered queries? We provided some answers to frequently asked questions about Airbnb rules below.

What are some house rules for Airbnb?

House rules are just host-created rules you may find in a letting. These are things you can either send to guests ahead of the booking or post on a wall or fridge. They vary depending on the host and property type but are generally requests and guidance on how to look after the property. Keep them simple, or guests may ignore them. They can be things such as ‘Please lock all doors and windows when leaving the house’, or ‘Please be quiet in any outdoor area of the property in order to respect our neighbours’. 

Airbnb house rules must meet the business’ terms and conditions and not violate the non-discrimination policy. 

Does Airbnb enforce house rules? 

Not directly. However, Airbnb’s customer service department may be more likely to rule in your favour if you have evidence that guests have directly violated a house rule.  

Can Airbnb hosts kick guests out? 

Yes, but you’ll need to contact Airbnb’s customer service team first to ensure they are aware of the situation. You need to be level-headed when deciding whether to evict guests. For example, if they’ve broken a minor house rule such as not wearing shoes in the house, you’re very unlikely to get Airbnb support to kick them out. Try to limit evictions to the most damaging violations, such as throwing a party in your property when you’ve asked guests not to. 

Can I prevent guests from drinking or smoking? 

Setting clear house rules will help prevent violations of any drinking or smoking policies, but you must remember that guests are generally adults with their own free will. Trying to ban alcohol consumption, for example, can lead to disputes and challenges. Instead, setting rules such as ‘Please only smoke in the garden area’ or ‘Please keep the noise to a minimum after 11 pm’ to govern HOW behaviour occurs rather than trying to stop it will yield better results. 

No-smoking signs should be displayed inside the property, and it’s also a good idea to remind your guests of the no-smoking policy in any booking correspondence.

Can Airbnb hosts show up unannounced? 

In a shared space, you should respect your guest’s privacy and not enter their personal areas without permission. In a private space, you should not enter unless you have permission – though there is no concrete rule to prevent you from doing so.