Airbnb property has become so popular in parts of the UK that it has effectively priced people out in deprived local communities where there are no affordable homes to buy. In some areas, such as the Lake District or coastal areas of North Devon and Cornwall, the short-term letting site offers 25% of homes available for rent.
It is no coincidence that many popular Airbnb areas are already dominated by properties used as second homes. These properties can be let out at considerable sums per night throughout the tourist season.
Property owners understandably would much rather let their property out short-term to tourists than make a home available to a local person. However, short-term rental properties inflate property prices, and an increased number of holiday lets simply exacerbates the problem of people being unable to settle in the area in which they were born.
Working people in many rural and coastal areas are already disadvantaged by lower wage rates and the lack of public transport.
Effect on local tourist businesses
There can also be resentment towards Airbnb properties from registered B&B owners and hoteliers. In some areas, these businesses pay large sums for additional services from local authorities, such as rubbish collections. Unregulated businesses get away without paying, although Airbnb says it is trying to address this.
Many of the properties, however, available on Airbnb are themselves established businesses. It is common for B&Bs, smaller hotels and even campsites offering yurts to advertise on the site. Not only do these listings have no effect on available housing stock but they help local businesses – which often provide people with work.
How to earn money with Airbnb
Many listings on Airbnb are from people with extra space in their home which they let to bring in a little extra income. Some don’t even own the property, but rent it themselves (with the landlord’s permission, we’re sure)! In return, travellers can find a wide range of properties that are often relatively affordable.
To make any money from Airbnb property, there must be sufficient demand for your property and its location. There are regular overheads, such as house cleaning, linen and utility bills, as well as supplies if these are on offer. In addition, you need to allow for furnishings and decorating.
The cost of cleaning can be recouped by adding it as a separate fee on the listing but, if you offer WiFi and other extras, these will need to be factored into your costs.
Airbnb versus rental property
Renting out a desirable property in a popular location will likely provide you with a regular rental income. Initial overheads can be relatively low, as there is usually no need to provide furnishings.
Long-term rentals are limited to the amount that is locally affordable. This can be very different from the potential income available during the high season for short-term letting the property (although in some places there is a cap on the number of days a property can be let short-term).
Payment is usually charged when the guest books a short-term let through Airbnb and, once established, the host receives the payment in the first couple of days of the rental.
And because your guests are not living in your property, there is likely to be less wear and tear on the property. For instance, your long-term renter may be disinclined to clean the mould off the bathroom ceiling. This can result in hefty costs to put things right between renters.
Not sure whether your neighbours will cope?
Airbnb is keen to improve its reputation in neighbourhoods and is introducing a discount to its users on a noise detector device. The company says it will “help address potential unauthorized parties and neighborhood disturbances”.
If you’re buying a property, whether it will be your home or a rental property, ask a Chartered Surveyor for a building survey.