Could you Let your Properties to Holidaymakers?

Hotel owners around the globe are concerned over a new trend in the holiday industry where instead of staying in a hotel, individuals rent out properties in popular cities such as Paris, London and Barcelona. In fact, you may have recently seen adverts on the TV for companies such as Airbnb which specialise in finding holidaymakers homes to stay in during their journeys. As a landlord, these types of services could help you expand your business and even make money during what may have previously been considered quiet periods, however there are also notable downsides. Here, we look at this new holiday trend in more detail:

What is ‘Airbnb’?

Airbnb is known as an ‘apartment-sharing’ service, as multiple people share the properties listed on the website throughout the year. There are other companies which specialise in this service, however Airbnb is one of the biggest and has heavily featured in the news recently. Airbnb started back in 2007 when Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were struggling with the cost of their rent while living in an apartment in San Francisco. In order to make money, they decided to offer people the ability to stay in their apartment with them for a small amount of money each week and set up a website in order to advertise this offer. They noticed that this offer seemed popular, so they then got to work promoting their business to several entrepreneurs and finally received funding from companies and individuals including Sequoia Capital, Greylock Partners, Y Combinator and the actor Ashton Kutcher. Today, the company is worth over ten billion dollars and has over 500,000 listings in 33,000 cities and 192 countries.

Joining Airbnb

Joining Airbnb is relatively simple, as their website works much the same as popular property and letting sites such as Zoopla and RightMove. Property owners and landlords are able to create online listings complete with photographs of their properties, details on how much it costs to rent them per night and their availability. Property owners are also able to set up ‘Profile’ pages where they can include information on their experience in letting properties, their house rules and any further information they believe would encourage or help individuals when it comes to choosing a property. Once a user has chosen a property they then contact the owner directly in order to arrange the booking and meeting up to collect necessities such as keys. Those that find properties on the site are also able to leave reviews, which helps tackle the issue of rogue landlords and property owners who try to take advantage of the site.

Issues for Landlords

As a landlord, it is never advisable to let a property to anyone without first drawing up an extensive tenancy agreement. However, a number of landlords have been taking advantage of this new trend which is causing concern from experts in the property industry. Many have claimed that with the current housing crisis, especially in London, landlords should not be letting out properties or rooms to holidaymakers but instead focus on finding long term tenancies or selling their properties. Jackie Grech, legal and policy director at the British Hospitality Association, said: “We are very concerned that large numbers of private homes are being let on a semi or even permanent basis to tourists because it’s unlikely that any of these properties have ever had any fire risk or health and safety checks. 76% of fire deaths in the UK last year were in the home and if you have strangers staying there who aren’t familiar with how things work, the risks could increase. The BHA also has some serious concerns about the opportunity for antisocial behaviours that could occur in these properties, which aren’t professionally managed.”

As a landlord, companies such as Airbnb could be extremely useful if one of your properties is going through a void period where you are still expected to pay unoccupied property insurance and council tax without receiving any income. However, it is unlikely that local authorities will promote landlords to follow this line of business in the long-term, especially when there are so many people in the UK struggling to find affordable properties to buy or rent.

Photo by Michael Coghlan / CC BY-SA 2.0

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