Top tips for renting a room on Airbnb

Thinking of making some extra income by renting out a room? Get tips for making a success of it, whether you’re renting via Airbnb or other sites.

Thinking of making some extra income by renting out a room? Get tips for making a success of it, whether you’re renting via Airbnb or other sites.

Chris King
From the Home team
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Posted 30 JUNE 2020

How renting your spare room can pay

Thousands of people in 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’s lots of others too, including sites like Monday to Friday, where you can find guests who are looking specifically to stay during the week.

Hosting can be lucrative. People can earn £7,500 a year tax-free under the Government’s Rent a Room Scheme, but there’s lots of competition.

How, then, do you make your listing stand out, find good guests and keep everything running smoothly? Here’s a few tips.

Decide what facilities to offer

Some live-in hosts allow guests access to use the garden and sitting room. Others just provide use of the bedroom, a bathroom and kitchen. Think carefully about what you’ll be comfortable with.

You may decide to charge a bit more if you’re offering perks like breakfast. 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

The room should be somewhere people feel really comfortable in. Redecorate, if necessary, and make sure it has everything a guest needs to feel at home.

For example:

  • fresh bed linens
  • a set of towels
  • comfy pillows
  • a bedside table
  • attractive lamps for ambient lighting
  • a chair and a desk, particularly if you’re appealing to businesspeople or students

Set the right price

Scope out the prices being charged in your area by looking at other listings, as well as hotels and B&Bs. Your price needs to be competitive but fair for what you’re offering.

If you’re going to ask for 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 the room might be furnished to a very high spec. Maybe you’re offering the use of a hot tub.

If, on the other hand, you’re providing fairly basic accommodation, you may want to charge a slightly lower rate in the hope of attracting more guests.

Your prices don’t have to stay the same all year round – you might be able to raise them in peak tourist season or if there’s a big event in your area.

Take some great pictures

Images are what will make your listing stand out, so make sure they really showcase your accommodation. Unmade beds and piles of clutter on the floor in your photos are a no-no.

Get lots of light into your shots and take pictures at different angles, so potential guests can see the whole room. Include close-ups of any stand-out features and make sure everything’s sparkling clean.

If you’re letting your accommodation through a management agency, Hostmaker for example, they’ll send a professional team to take the pictures for you.

Write a great listing

You don’t have to be a prizewinning writer to put together an attractive description. Just focus on what you think your guests will be interested in. It might help to ask yourself the following questions before you start typing:

  • Is there an en-suite bathroom?
  • Does the bed have a top-of-the-range mattress?
  • Are you close to shops, restaurants or visitor attractions?

People don’t have all day to read, so keep it concise, but packed with detail. Remember, your guest may not know anything about your area.

Vet your guests

Airbnb provides reviews of guests by hosts, but not all sites do. You might want to do your own background checks, including asking would-be guests for references from their employer, or university if your guest is a student.

Know the law

Even if you’re renting a room to guests or lodgers, you’re subject to some of the same laws as any other landlord, particularly health and safety rules.

For example, you must have your property checked every year by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. Your local authority might have some of its own rules, too. Make sure you understand your legal obligations before you post your listing.

Please note, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Airbnb has suspended all bookings for the time being, unless those bookings are for key workers.

Don’t forget your home insurance

You must tell your insurance provider if you’re renting out a room. If you don’t, you may invalidate your insurance policy.

Your insurance provider could raise your premium, and in some instances they may refuse to insure you. If that happens, you’ll need to look for a new provider – and possibly a specialist policy.

Airbnb does provide some of its own insurance for hosts, but this may not be the comprehensive cover you’re looking for.

If you have a mortgage, you’ll need to let your provider know what you’re intending to do.

If you’re a leaseholder, you’ll need to check your contract to see if you can sublet the property – and you’ll need to let the freeholder know. In some cases, freeholders won’t allow a leaseholder to rent their property for short-term lets at all.

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