Top tips for renting a room on Airbnb

Want to make some extra money by renting out your spare room? Here’s how to make a success of it, whether you’re renting through Airbnb or other sites.

Want to make some extra money by renting out your spare room? Here’s how to make a success of it, whether you’re renting through Airbnb or other sites.

Helen Phipps
Insurance expert
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Last Updated 7 JUNE 2022

How renting out your spare room can pay

Thousands of people in the UK boost their incomes by renting out their spare rooms to visitors. Airbnb is the best-known platform for finding guests, but there are plenty of others, including Homestay and SpareRoom as well as sites like Monday to Friday, where you can find guests who want to stay during the week.

Hosting can be lucrative – the government lets you earn £7,500 a year tax-free under its Rent a Room scheme. But there’s a lot of competition out there. So, how do you make your listing stand out, find reliable guests and keep everything running smoothly?

Here are our tips.

Decide what facilities to offer

Some hosts let guests use the garden and living room. Others just provide access to the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. Think about what you’ll be comfortable with before posting your listing.

You may decide to charge more if you’re offering perks like breakfast or supper. And you’ll need to think about whether guests can use the washing machine and if you’ll charge for laundry.

Get the room looking its best

You should make the room as comfortable as possible. Redecorate if you need to, and ensure the room has everything to make your guest feel at home.

You might want to provide:

  • Fresh bed linen
  • A set of towels
  • Comfy pillowsA bedside table
  • Lamps for ambient lighting
  • A desk and chair, especially if you’re appealing to business travellers or students.

If you can’t afford to redecorate, then small touches, such as coffee-table books and flowers, could make a real difference.

Set the right price

You can get an idea of how much to charge by browsing other listings, as well looking at hotels and B&Bs. Your price needs to be competitive but fair for what you’re offering.

If you’re going to charge more than the going rate, you’ll need to justify why in your listing. Your home might be very convenient for transport links, for example, or furnished to a very high spec. Maybe you’re offering the use of a hot tub.

On the other hand, if you’re providing fairly basic accommodation, you may want to charge slightly less to attract more guests.

There’s no need to stick to the same prices year-round – you could increase them in peak tourist season or if there’s a big event taking place nearby.

Use high-quality photography

Images are what make your listing stand out, so make sure they show your home in its best light. Unmade beds and piles of clutter are an obvious no-no.

Ensure the space is well-lit and take pictures from different angles so guests can see the whole room. Include close-ups of any standout features, such as fireplaces or views, and make sure everything’s sparkling clean.

Airbnb offers its own pro-photography service and claims that using it could increase both your earnings and bookings by 20%. You can pay using money from future bookings.

If you’re letting your accommodation through a management company, you might find they’ll send a professional to take pictures for you.

Write a great listing

You don’t have to be a prizewinning author to write an appealing description. Just focus on what will interest your guests. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is there an en-suite?
  • Do you have a top-of-the-range mattress, designer coffee machine or other amenities?
  • Are you close to shops, restaurants or visitor attractions?

Keep it concise but packed with detail. Remember, your guest may not know anything about your area.

Vet your guests

Airbnb provides host reviews of guests, but not all sites do. You might want to run your own background checks, such as googling them and checking their social-media profiles.

Know the law

Even if you’re renting a room to guests or lodgers, you’re bound by many of the same laws as a landlord, particularly when it comes to health and safety.

For example, you must have a Gas Safe Registered engineer check your appliances, fittings, chimneys and flues every year. Your local authority may have its own rules, too. Be sure to understand your legal obligations before you post your listing.

Don’t forget your home insurance

If you’re renting out a room, you must let your home insurance provider know. If you don’t, you could invalidate your policy.

You could find your insurance provider increases your premium or even refuses to insure you at all. If that’s the case, it’s worth shopping around for a new insurance provider – and perhaps even a specialist policy.

Airbnb provides host insurance, but it may not be the comprehensive cover you’re looking for.

Frequently asked questions

How much can I earn renting out a room on Airbnb?

How much you earn from your room will very much depend on your home and where you live. Some areas, such as seaside resorts, are in huge demand during summer but attract less interest in winter. If you live near somewhere with a famous festival, such as Glyndebourne or Glastonbury, you could make a lot of extra money renting out your home while it’s on.

Am I insured to rent a room on Airbnb?

Many insurance providers see Airbnb as high risk, which means they won’t cover you automatically. It’s best to speak to your insurance provider and ask to extend your policy. However, make sure you read the small print as there are likely to be exclusions

Do I have to pay tax if I rent a room on Airbnb?

You could earn up to £7,500 tax-free through the government’s Rent a Room scheme. However, tax is complicated and everybody’s circumstances are different. To find out if you have to pay tax – or if you’re owed tax relief – contact HMRC.

Can I rent out a room in my house if I have a mortgage?

You can, but you might need to ask your mortgage lender. Some lenders will let you rent a room for up to 90 days a year without asking permission. But others may not like you renting out part of your home, especially if they find out that you’re renting a room without consent.

Can I rent out a room in my house if I’m a leaseholder?

If you’re a leaseholder, you’ll need to check your contract to see if you can sub-let the property. You’ll also need to let the freeholder know. Some freeholders won’t allow a leaseholder to rent their property for short-term lets at all.

Can I rent out a room in my house if I rent?

Sub-letting your home is likely to be a breach of your contract and might result in you being evicted. If you’re a renter, it’s best to avoid renting rooms without permission from your landlord.

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