The soaring popularity of short-term rentals, such as Airbnb, has been impossible to ignore since it first came to prominence in 2010-2011. Since then, the rental giant has given over half a million budding entrepreneurs the chance to break into the world of short-let property. If you’re lucky enough to own a second property, or even spend a lot of time away which leaves your home empty for long periods of time, short-term renting is the perfect way to boost your household’s income.
If you’re considering a move into short-let property development, there are a number things you need to consider. Different factors all require careful consideration. Who will be renting from you? Are you letting your full home or just one room? How much money do you want to earn? These questions don’t answer themselves, and it’s important to set yourself up in the best way possible before you begin letting.
Here’s some tips to help your prepare your property, maximise your bookings and customer satisfaction – whilst also giving you peace of mind about damages or issues that may arise!
Photo Credit: Glenn Carstons-Peters
Update Your Insurance
I’m starting with this as it’s arguably the most important part of your to-do list. When you decide to open up your property to short-term rentals, this can have a drastic effect on your premiums. The amount your outgoings change, all really depends on how you plan to let out your property. Shop around for the best deals depending on your situation, and make sure you’re fully protected before letting any strangers into your property.
If you’re renting just one room, it’s likely to end up cheaper than if you decide to rent out the entire property, but, only renting one room cuts your profits significantly. This is why it’s important to decide whether you’d like to let your whole property, or just one room so you can earn a little extra money on the side. Currently, you can earn up to £7,500 tax-free through the government’s rent-a-room relief scheme if you decide to rent just one room. Renting out your whole property means you’re not covered by the rent-a-room tax-free allowance.
Write a Gleaming, but Honest, Property Description
In an ideal world, your listing will generate hundreds of monthly viewers and have a good conversion rate when it comes to bookings. In order to do this, you’ll need to write a glowing reference for your property. This is often the main way of advertising your rental “business” – alongside great quality photos, of course. Highlight the key features of your property, and what makes it the perfect place for potential visitors to stay.
Use your description to answer questions people are likely to ask. Is it accessible to everyone? Is it close to local landmarks and public transport? Do you offer parking? Is there internet included? Drum up a list of potential FAQs, and look at what other hosts are doing on their listings. You can also use your description to specify if there are any groups you wouldn’t accept – such as hen or stag parties. It’s crucial that, to avoid poor reviews or mistrust, you also describe any potential drawbacks of the accommodation you’re offering. This is where the honest part comes in. Note any faulty features or possibly hindering circumstances – a broken elevator, meaning suitcases need to be carried up several flights of stairs, for example. It’s much better that your customers find out about this now, and not once they arrive for their stay.
Photo Credit: Jason Brisco
Work Out Your Booking Terms
If you’re booking in any hotel, hostel or B&B in the world, your booking will always come loaded with some kind of terms. Seen as though you’ll be running your own, you need to decide upon your own booking terms for guests. They help to give you protection against last-minute cancellations, as well as giving you control where it’s needed. You should also strategically price your property, looking at what else is on the market and seeing where you fit. You never want to be the most expensive – unless your property truly is worth being the most expensive. However, you should be careful not to under-value your offering either – find a good middle ground and adjust your pricing accordingly.
Many rental websites offer you – the host – the opportunity to either accept reservations instantly, or vet guests before accepting their booking. Whilst listings are more popular when guests can make a reservation instantly, you may value a thorough checking process over the number of bookings you receive. Simply put, it’s whether you prefer quality or quantity. You also need to work out your terms for cancellations. Many people set a maximum amount of days they can cancel free of charge for. Once this time passes, for example 7 days, you may charge them in full for their first night’s stay and refund the rest. Check in and out times are also important to make sure you have enough time to clean for your next guest! Which leads me to my final point.
Decorate Your Property and Keep it Clean
Keeping your accommodation clean is crucial to getting good reviews and repeat visitors. Make sure that once every guest has checked out, your property is cleaned thoroughly in preparation for the next person. If you feel like going the extra mile for visitors, you can add in free amenities and replenish these throughout the duration of their stay. Bottles of shampoo, toothpaste, soap – these are all simple additions that can make a difference if someone has packed in a hurry and forgot one of their essentials!
Short-term letting means you’ll have a host of people coming and going on a regular basis. With different people always brings new challenges, and the increased likelihood of damages occurring. To ensure you mitigate these risks, intelligently decorate to prevent long-term damages. If you’re going to fit carpets, make sure they’re a dark colour to keep stains at bay. Keep fragile decorations to the bare minimum, and nail furniture to the wall to prevent it being damaged or falling over. The more you can do to prevent unnecessary damage, the better.