We all spend a lot of money on our homes – so how about making your home earn money for a change? Perhaps children have gone off to university, or you’ve recently cleared out a box room and discovered an empty spare bedroom. Taking a longterm tenant in isn’t for everyone, as you might not fancy sharing your house permanently. Letting the room out on Airbnb could be a perfect fit, though. You can control when you let it, and potential customers will come to you.
Renting through Airbnb also means that you’re automatically covered by their insurance, so if a guest accidentally damages your property or gets hurt themselves, you don’t need to approach your own insurers. In a similar system to eBay, guests and hosts both publish reviews after the stay, so you can have some level of trust as to who you’re letting into your home!
To get started, you’ll need to create a profile on Airbnb. Be as descriptive as you can, and take lots of clear photos of the room and bathroom. If you’re also offering access to other areas of the house, such as the garden or living room, add photos of those as well.
Decide who your target audience is, and tailor your description accordingly. For example, if you’re within walking distance of a major train station and are hoping to net business travellers, your 50-character title might say ‘spacious private room 5 mins walk from station’. Don’t waste those precious 50 characters by offering unnecessary information – for example, there’s no need to put ‘room available in Maidenhead’, as your potential guest will already have typed ‘Maidenhead’ into the search box to find your listing. If you’re not aiming at a specific audience, then highlight your property’s best feature – for example, a quiet, rural setting; stunning views or easy accessibility.
Airbnb will recommend how much to charge, but the best way to price your room is to look at what else is on offer in the area. Prices for a single, private room in a shared house average around £35 to £50 per night, depending on where you are in the country. If you have last minute availability, you can drop your prices as the date approaches if you want to.
Airbnb users are often booking at the last minute, so make sure your description is clear and contains all the relevant information so that potential guests can make a quick decision.
Add any other amenities to help your room stand out from the crowd, such as free cancellations, wifi, TV, drinks making facilities, an iron, fireplace, hairdryer and whether or not you’re providing toiletries. The level of service you provide is entirely up to you – you might be on hand to offer your guests a full English fry up, or you might provide a box of cornflakes and a kettle. Just be clear about what guests can expect, and price accordingly. You’ll be expected to provide essentials, such as sheets, towels, soap and loo paper.
Offering secure, off road parking can be a real bonus – if you’re in an area where parking is a rarity make sure you mention in your property description that it’s available. Remember to tell potential guests whether they’ll have the use of a private bathroom, or whether they’ll have to share.
You’ll also have to set house rules, such as whether or not you allow smoking (and where it’s allowed), and whether young children or pets are welcome. For security, Airbnb will charge guests the full amount before arrival, and then you’ll get the money after they’ve checked in (less a 3 per cent service charge).
Finally, make sure the room is clean and tidy (it’s particularly important to clean the bathroom, too!) and get ready to welcome your guests.