If you’re able to emotionally detach from your family home and want to maximize it’s potential whilst sitting empty, then Airbnb’ing your home to fund your family travels could be for you. Following on from my previous Airbnb post Live in a Tourist Hotspot? Fancy a free holiday? Airbnb your gaff and get going here's part 2 - 10' Airbnb Do's and Don'ts
Do - add local photos to your Airbnb profile
1. Do - Inform your Home Insurance
Our Higos policy (underwritten by Aviva) fully covers us for having paying guests stay in our house. Yes, our premium went up slightly after informing them but the peace of mind while away on holiday is worth it. Policy exclusions during renting periods include exclusions for theft (except by forcible or violent entry). Aviva, Axa and More Th>n state once informed, they will agree to cover occasional Airbnb hostings.
2. Do - Be aware Airbnb’ing could affect your capital gains
Renting your family home for any period of time could affect your capital gains when selling your house. Occasional Airbnb'ing would make miniscule differences but do read up on this area before proceeding.
3. Do - Get a Landlord Gas Safety Certificate
This is a legal requirement. This costs about £70 and is easily arranged through your local gas plumber.
4. Do - Get a good housekeeper & set a budget
I can’t emphasis this enough! Getting a good housekeeper who you trust is a must. The last thing you want when travelling the world with your family, is worrying about your property back home. Interview candidates thoroughly! Don’t penny pinch here - consider their flexibility, common sense and experience, as well as their fee. Supply them with a list of local tradesmen who know your property. Expect to pay between £70-100 for a 3 bed/2 bath turnover & linen service.
Do - Take good photos by "dressing" your home before taking shots
5. Do - Take good photos & write an accurate profile for your property
Hugely important - taking appealing photos of your property is essential. Tidy and ‘dress’ your house - add touches such as a vase of flowers, a couple of wine glasses, or set the table. Guests will make 80% of their decision to book based on your photos alone. Take LOTS of photos – some guests want to even see a photo of the loo before booking. Don't forget to include photos of local tourist spots eg your nearest beach or viewpoint. Have a look at other property profiles before writing yours. You will easily see which profiles shine or others that don’t. Make sure yours is the former by giving clear descriptions of rooms including size of the beds (or height of beds if not standard), facilities (dishwasher, washing machine, microwave etc). Include any house rules ie no smoking, no pets as well as arrival and departure times. Don’t forget to choose your cancellation policy. We opted for strict, which means that guests can’t get a refund if they cancel within one week of their holiday.
6. Do - Buy DARK guest linen
This pearl of wisdom was from a cleaning company I interviewed. Unfortunately I had just bought brand new white linen and many times since have I regretted it. Time and time again Asda have been highly recommended for towels.
7. Do - Get a good key safe to allow guests to self check-in
Key safes discreetly attached to a wall of your property securely stores property keys for changeover days. Doing away with meet and greets, key safes allow guests to arrive at any time and self check-in.
Do - fit a key safe discreetly on an exterior wall allowing guests to self check-in
8. Do - Fit fire & carbon monoxide alarms
Fire alarms need to be on every floor of your house & carbon monoxide alarms near open fires and boiler. Check they work before leaving for your holiday.
9. Do - Inform your mortgage lender
This is a tricky one. Whilst everyone should check with their mortgage lender before letting out their house, many people don’t for the simple fact that most mortgage lenders will say no. Letting your house, even on such a short-term basis as weekly through Airbnb, may well breach your mortgage conditions, and so you could be made to re-pay your mortgage in full if your lender found out, although this is extreme. A warning, a fine, or an interest increase are more likely.
10. Do - Consider providing welcome extras
We provide fresh flowers, a small organic milk, coffee, tea, sugar, a bottle of wine, a couple of bottles of local beer, a chocolate cake, a couple of dishwasher & washing machine tablets, new dishcloth, new scrubber, washing up liquid, 1 x spare bin liner, spare toilet rolls, and an organic bar of soap. Small touches can really make the difference to a guest’s stay and encourage repeat bookings
Do - consider providing welcome extras - small touches can encourage repeat bookings & won't break the bank
1. Don’t - Worry while you are away!
The first time you rent your house you’ll understandably be apprehensive. If you’re of a nervous disposition or if after a couple of rentals you’re still fretting, then maybe Airbnb just isn’t for you. No 4 above plays a key role in minimizing your stress - by getting a good housekeeper you will slash the chances of being bugged by your guests on your holiday.
2. Don’t - Contact the guests too much once they’ve arrived
It’s ok to contact guest on the first day or so to ensure they’ve arrived okay, are happy with the accommodation etc. But remember your guests are on holiday too and generally want to just get on and enjoy it, not being badgered by an uneasy host.
3. Don’t - Leave packing up to the last minute
Believe me, it is stressful getting your family home ready for Airbnb. There’s a lot to do from de-cluttering, packing for your family’s holiday and cleaning your home from top to bottom. START EARLY - I can not impress this enough. If it’s your first time (and if you’re reading this, it is) start months ahead. De-cluttering will take the most time. If you don’t know where to start, start with one drawer a day. Have a charity bag and a bin bag. My advice is to sort with speed - 20 seconds over each item. The rule is if you haven’t worn it for a year, it goes. What have the kids grown out of? Have a trying on session after school to see what still fits and give the rest to charity. If you’re umming and erring, create a “6 month box” & chuck it in the loft. Re-visit it in 6 months – chances are you haven’t needed any of those items at all, and if it’s not a sentimental keepsake, get rid!
4. Don’t - Forget your garden!
If you’re renting for the full 6 weeks of the summer holidays you’ll need to consider a gardener or include some gardening jobs for the housekeeper. I try to minimize the impact of the garden by preparing well. I weed thoroughly and then put a deep layer of bark down. This suppresses most weeds reducing weeding to a minimum. Lawns will need to be mown once a week. We also have a vine that becomes triffid like during the Summer months entangling the path if not pruned back once a week so I pay my housekeeper extra to tackle these exterior duties.
5. Don’t - Forget to leave a Guest Welcome Folder
Include instructions of how everything works - maybe you have a temperamental shower or there’s a knack to get the dishwasher to work – make sure you detail these to prevent guest melt down. Also leave wi-fi codes, restaurant takeaway menus, restaurant recommendations, bus timetables, local traffic short cut tips, local attraction leaflets. A map of the area is also appreciated. Always leave your full address in large font on a noticeboard - should there be any emergency guests will need it immediately to hand to give to emergency services.
Don't forget to leave a guest information folder with property instructions and local recommendations
6. Don’t - Forget to keep all your receipts
Housekeeping fees, cleaning & welcome products, gardening expenses etc will be tax deductible. Keep them!
7. Don’t - Forget recycling and rubbish day information
We leave the council timetable on the notice board along with a large sign indicating which days are what.
8. Don't -Forget to tell your neighbours
It’s a good idea to have an extra pair of eyes on your property whilst you are away. Make sure you give your neighbours your contact details and if they see anything suspicious to call you immediately. 99% of Airbnb guests are fantastic, although there have been a couple of cases of entire household content theft! Airbnb has a “host guarantee” which covers any damage/theft caused by a guest during the rental period, up to £600,000 so you can relax a whole lot more that you are protected.
9. Don’t - Forget to check your guest's profile
Always check a potential guest's profile before accepting a reservation. Do they have a photo, are they verified, have they got any reviews?
10. Don’t - Forget to put keys in the key safe!
You’d be surprised how many people forget to actually put a spare set of keys inside the key safe. Imagine arriving excitedly at your holiday let after a long drive, only to have the frustration of not being able to get in – not a good start. Buy a large key ring emblazoned with the local beach or tourist town name and pop them on there. Remember not to put your property name and address on just in case they are lost.
Need more information? Check out the Airbnb website.
Have I missed any? Share your Airbnb Do's, Don'ts and experiences in the comments
The Family Freestylers are us - the Nixon family, who relish travel adventures both near & far