AirBnb: A Beginners Guide

Lodging and accommodation is expensive in London for residents and visitors alike, and it's no secret that renting your flat to AirBnb visitors is a good way to earn some extra quid. However, if you aren't careful, it can become more trouble than it's worth.

Here's a five practical and easily overlooked tips from tried-and-true hosts.

Legality

Cities have been starting to regulate the accommodation sharing industry, and London is no exception. In 2016, the Greater London Assembly prohibited rooms from being rented more than 90 days a year. This is to help with our obvious housing crisis, and keep AirBnb hosting for visitors rather than residents. So keep this in mind when calculating your profits.

AirBnb also recommends that your flat has adequate liability coverage, and some property protection insurance, in case of valuables being damaged or stolen by your guests.

Finally, check your housing agreement, with your landlord, and any flatmates to make sure that everyone understands what you plan to do and is in agreement.

Logistics

A bit of planning will keep your operation running smoothly. The biggest problem hosts face in the logistics of meeting the guests, explaining the rules, and exchanging keys. There are two easy helps to reduce the hassle of this.

First, write a rule book for your guests like hotels do. Write down everything you can think of that your guest might want to know in a well-organised document. This includes the wifi password, noise-level guidelines, shower operation, contact numbers, neighbourhood dogs, and even use of the refrigerator. Put that information in a physical binder and in a standard email so it's easy for your guest to know and it's clear up-front what the procedures are. This will eliminate many of those late-night phone calls. Whenever a new situation arises, add that information to your binder. Add in local recommendations like nearby sites and restaurants to take the sting out of the necessary rule list.

Keys

Choose a good system for authorising access. Instead of handing-off physical keys, which can be lost and require physical transfer, invest in an electronic or keyless locking system. You may have to check with your landlord first to change your locks, but it's worth investing in a service call a London locksmith to see your options. Coded entries are relatively cost-efficient, but are less effective when you constantly give out the same code. We recommend checking out some apps which allow you to share unique one-time entry codes to your guest. They usually are more expensive to install, but most people with them are happy with the ease of use and the security they provide (you can monitor exactly who is opening your flat while you're away on that beach holiday).

Manage Expectations

While it's good to make your flat look its best when advertising it online with a few good photos, you should follow that with an honest description of the services you can provide. If it's a long walk to the tube station, say so. If the bathroom is old and has wonky water pressure, gently warn them. Chances are, your guest will be happy not paying for a hotel and be willing to overlook these problems - but only if they knew about them beforehand.

Earn Good Review - Add a Surprise Extra

Guests are happy to get more than they thought they were paying for - even if it's something small. Exclude a couple small details from the listing, and they'll be impressed. Good suggestions include offering a new oyster card with a little credit, tea and coffee with fresh milk, a bottle of inexpensive wine at night, or even access to your gym. You can budget these expenses in your overall fee, and your guest will find you incredibly generous. All these good reviews add up to more guests, better experiences, and more money.



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