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In recent years Airbnb has exploded. It’s great for holiday makers - Airbnb’s are cheaper than hotels and have more space. It’s also been great for property investors, as Airbnb rentals earn more income than long lets. It’s been a win-win!
Buy to let Airbnb can be a great strategy for property investors - but it needs to be done right. This article is a detailed guide for how to become an Airbnb host. I explain how to protect your property against the coronavirus downturn, and why it’s less risky than long lets. I also show how to prevent party guests from staying at your property.
This is a great article with tons of excellent Airbnb host tips. If you want to get notified of new content, then make sure to sign up to my email list and follow me on Twitter.
All of the photos in this article can be clicked and pop out into a slideshow.
I’ve switched some of my properties to buy to let Airbnb and had a lot of success. For a great Airbnb host review example, I’ll start with a property of mine in Islington, London. The property has been on Airbnb since 2018, and has an average rating of 4.8*.
The property earns 45% more compared to the previous long let. I employ an Airbnb manager that cleans the property before each stay, and re-stocks the coffee and pastries. I also made sure to decorate the property well – I added soft furnishings to make the property stand out. Cushions, lamps and decorative mirrors don’t cost much, but they make your property look great in photos. I’ve provided more detail below about how to decorate a property for Airbnb.
So how important are good reviews? They’re important - properties with high ratings will earn more. If your property does get bad reviews, you may be forced to re-list your property from a different account. I’ve never had to do this! You can search for other great Airbnb host review examples, and see what makes for a happy guest.
The coronavirus outbreak in 2020 has changed the world in many ways. One result has been to decimate the travel industry, as airports have shut and people need to stay at home. This has led collapse in Airbnb bookings. Despite this I’m still a massive fan of buy to let Airbnb, and think it’s a great strategy. So why is this?
The key thing about buy to let Airbnb, is that you don’t only list your property on Airbnb. I list my properties on 30 separate channels, including Airbnb, Rightmove, Booking.com, Hotels.com and HomeAway. These channels target the short-let, mid-let and long-let market. This is great and gives me the flexibility to switch strategies as the market changes. Airbnb is very popular in summer and Christmas time, whereas mid-lets are better at other times of the year. My property in Islington has proved very popular in the mid-let market. I’ve had a number of bookings from people that are renovating their home, and need somewhere to stay meanwhile.
This flexibility is why I believe Airbnb strategies can succeed despite the coronavirus. You can switch between short lets and long lets, as the market changes.
You’ll need a great manager for your buy to let Airbnb. I have a specialist manager that lists my properties on a range of channels, not just Airbnb. This enables me to switch between short lets and long lets as the market changes – and boost my profits.
The good news is that there’s lots of specialist Airbnb managers in the UK. You can do a quick Google search to see which managers operate in your area. Look for a manager that does the following:
- Professional photos of your property
- Promotes your property on multiple channels like Hotels.com and HomeAway. Not just Airbnb
- Has good Google reviews
- Cleans your home before each guest stay
The going rate for buy to let Airbnb managers is around 12% + VAT. This is similar to what a normal letting agent would change to manage your property.
Decoration is important in property investment, not just buy to let Airbnb strategies. Your Airbnb decoration should be different to an ordinary buy to let. You want to decorate your property, such that it pops out when people look at the photos on Airbnb. The best way to do this is via soft furnishings like rugs, lamps, cushions and decorative mirrors
Going back to my great Airbnb host example, I made a lot of effort to decorate the property well. My property is popular with guests, and has an average rating of 4.8*. I’ve uploaded some photos of the property in the slideshow above – check it out. In particular I have:
- Made use of light colours and mirrors to brighten up the space
- Used wall art, console tables and decorative lamps to give the place sparkle
- Made used of greens and blues in my colour scheme to give a calming feel
I’ve written a separate article where I describe in detail how I refurbished the property and got it ready for Airbnb. Below are photos of the bathroom and the kitchen before the renovation - you can see how much work I did!
Ordinary buy-to-let mortgages set a minimum term for tenancy of 6 months. You’ll need to get a specialist mortgage that permits short lets. There’s a large number of specialist products now available and the rates are competitive.
Many Airbnb hosts still use an ordinary buy-to-let mortgage. In truth, they’re unlikely to get caught. I don’t recommend this however, as you’d be breaking the terms of your mortgage.
If you own a flat, then you should check your lease with the freeholder. Many leases don’t allow subletting for a period of less than 6 months. So if you partake in buy to let Airbnb, you’ll be breaking the terms of your lease. The risk you run is that your landlord insurance will reject any claim in the future.
There are workarounds that allow you to do buy to let Airbnb legally, even your lease prohibits it. It’s not something that I can give away in a blog post however. If you want to find out more, then book a free call and we can discuss this further.
In London, there’s a 90 day limit you need to know about. You can’t rent out your property in the short term market for more than 90 days per year. This isn’t a problem with my properties, as I fill them with mid-let tenancies for the rest of the year.
I should point out that this law isn’t enforced very well. Airbnb monitor this 90-day limit, but many landlords get round this by having multiple Airbnb listings for their property. This is illegal, and those landlords run the risk of being fined. Also, other channels like Booking.com and Hotels.com don’t monitor the 90-day limit.
I own Airbnb properties in Liverpool, and there are no restrictions there.
One common concern with buy to let Airbnb, is that there’ll be a massive party and your place will be trashed. In my experience, these risks are easy to manage. I have a 2-day minimum stay on my properties, and a 3-day minimum stay at weekends. This is very effective at keeping out guests with bad intentions. If someone wants to hold a massive party, they’re unlikely to book my property and pay 3x the price. Also my property manager vets each guest, and checks their prior reviews – I don’t accept bookings from guests with no reviews.
If something does go wrong, then I have other protections in place. Airbnb has a resolution centre, where you can request money for damages. I also have insurance on my properties – I haven’t had to make a claim yet!
You’ll need to take out specialist buy to let Airbnb insurance, that allows short term lets. The price of such policies is similar to buy to let insurance. You can search for landlord insurance at Money Supermarket.
Buy to let Airbnb can be a fantastic strategy for property investors. In this guide, I’ve shown you how to become an Airbnb host and be a success. I’ve explained why Airbnb properties are less risky than long-term lets and how you can mitigate the risks of damage by guests. I’ve also provided lots of Airbnb host tips.