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Top tips for renting a room on Airbnb

Renting a room out on Airbnb – or any other site – can be a great way of raising a bit of extra cash. Find out how to make a success of it with our guide.

Renting a room out on Airbnb – or any other site – can be a great way of raising a bit of extra cash. Find out how to make a success of it with our guide.

Written by
Rachel Lacey
Insurance and money expert
Last Updated
16 DECEMBER 2022
5 min read
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How renting out your spare room can pay

Thousands of people across the UK are boosting 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. There are also sites such as Monday to Friday, where you can find guests who only want to stay during the week.

Hosting can be a lucrative business and thanks to the government’s Rent a Room Scheme, you can earn up to £7,500 a year doing it, without paying any tax on that income.

But there’s a lot of competition out there. You’ll need to make your listing stand out and find reliable guests that pay up on time and treat your home with care.

Find out how to get started.

Here are our tips.

Decide what facilities you’ll offer

Some hosts just let out a bedroom and access to their kitchen and bathroom. Others will let guests use the garden and living areas too.

Think about what you’ll be comfortable with before posting your listing.

You may decide to charge more if you’re offering your guests perks like meals or their own bathroom.

And you’ll need to think about whether they 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 guests feel at home.

You might want to provide:

  • Fresh bed linen
  • A set of towels
  • Comfy pillows
  • A bedside table
  • Lamps for ambient lighting
  • A desk and chair, especially if you’re targeting business people or students

If you can’t afford to redecorate then small touches like new bedding, scatter cushions or a throw could make all the difference.

Set the right price

You can get a good idea of how much to charge by browsing other listings, as well as looking at hotels and B&Bs in your area. Your price needs to be competitive but fair.

If you’re going to charge more than the going rate, you’ll need to justify why in your listing. Your home might be convenient for transport links, for example, or furnished to a 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 might want to increase your rates 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 possible light. Clear out the clutter and dress the rooms – again think flowers and soft furnishings.

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.

Don’t forget to think about lighting and bear in mind that external pictures will always look better on a sunny day.

Airbnb offers its own pro-photography service and claims that using it could increase both your earnings and bookings by 20%.

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 Airbnb listing. 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?
  • Is the train station within walking distance or do you have easy access to motorways?
  • Do you have space for your guest to park their car?

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.

For longer-term guests, there’s nothing to stop you meeting them first and requesting references.

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 will see Airbnb as higher risk, which means they might not 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 can 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 its 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 at all, even for short-term lets.

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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