Airbnb is now an established but controversial service to finding holiday accommodation. It provides an online platform for individuals to rent out their homes, rooms or apartments to visitors, often at a fraction of the cost of local hotels or B&Bs.

Founded in 2008 with its HQ in San Francisco, Airbnb now has more than 3,000,000 listings in 34,000 cities and 191 countries (Wikipedia). Though used by thousands of people around the world, it’s had its fair share of negative press, often causing controversy with local housing laws and regulations from both sides of the globe.

In New York, property owners can’t rent out their property for short periods of time (less than 30 days) unless they’re also living in the property – something many property owners are unaware of. And in Barcelona, when local tourism laws were breached, the city council fined Airbnb €30,000.**

But it’s not all bad. Last year, Amsterdam passed a law helping property owners use and benefit from Airbnb by allowing them to rent out their home for a total of two months a year, for up to four people at a time. However, they must pay the relevant taxes.

Here in the UK, research published in December 2017 by the Residential Landlords Association found the number of Airbnb rentals in London had increased by 187% since 2015.*

The huge interest and uptake has meant that Airbnb has grown rapidly, but it’s important not to get caught up in the hype. Property owners need to know the facts and what’s involved before listing their room or property for the world to see.

Clients thinking of using Airbnb?

It’s important to check what current Home Insurance is in place and what it will cover, as clients may not have cover in place for renting out the property. Most insurers do not offer cover to properties or rooms rented out through Airbnb.

Ensure local laws are checked, otherwise there could be a risk of fines from local authorities.

However, Airbnb do offer a Host Guarantee for peace of mind, which will reimburse eligible hosts for damages up to £600,000. There are some exclusions, so it’s important to read in full on their website.

Using Airbnb to stay?

Airbnb also offer a guest refund policy in case of last-minute cancelation by a host, or if the property is misrepresented. To get a refund, clients must notify Airbnb within 24 hours.

It’s always important with any holiday, wherever clients are staying, that they ensure they have the correct travel insurance in place. A suitable Travel Insurance policy can insure clients are protected for such occasions.

* http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-42633271

** https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jul/07/airbnb-fined-illegal-tourist-lets-barcelona-catalonia