Isn’t the 21st Century great? OK, so no-ones living on the moon yet, and you’re not piloting a jet pack from your mansion on the slopes of Olympus Mons to your job as an asteroid miner, but there are other compensations.
The fact that you have the entirety of human knowledge at your fingertips, that you can instantly connect to anyone, anywhere on the planet, that you can make money by letting your house out for the weekend while you go off and do something more interesting.
Airbnb makes life simple. Think of any town, anywhere in the world, and you can find and book somewhere to stay with only a few clicks.
And you can guarantee that at this very moment, someone, somewhere, is searching through the Airbnb listings for your town.
They’re looking for a house or a flat, to stay in overnight, or for a week, or for a month.
Taking Liverpool for example – that grim Northern city – prices range from £20 for a double room, through to £700 for a 16 bed mansion. The average Airbnb price for Liverpool is £119. Per night.
Tempting isn’t it.
How many nights would you need to let your property out for it to surpass your normal rental income? Six or seven probably. In theory, you could make one year’s rent in only three months.
If your mouth’s watering at the thought of the extra cash which could be coming your way, you’re not alone. More and more landlords are abandoning the traditional model of letting to tenants with a fixed term contract, and entering the happy-go-lucky world of letting by the night.
After all, the income potential is huge, and what could go wrong?
Consider how much care you or your letting agent put into actually finding a tenant in the first place. Apart from the initial listing and advertisements, you run credit checks to make sure they they’re in a secure financial position and can actually pay the rent. You probably use landlord reference agencies to check if they have a history of wrecking their accommodation while running a meth lab in the basement and a cannabis farm in the loft. Is it a family or or a group of teenage wannabe rock stars who will have the neighbours calling you up at 3 am to complain about the noise?
With Airbnb, you don’t have any of this information – and there’s no way of getting it. Problem tenants can simply make a new account, and you’ll be none the wiser. If they spray paint the walls of your flat and then refuse to move out, you have the same expensive legal recourses you do if you had let on a standard contract.
And what if you can’t regularly let the property? Sure, your suburban HMO may have great commuting links for the city, and be close to the best schools in the area, but are people really going to want to go there for a romantic city break in mid October? Maybe, but you’d be unwise to bet your mortgage payments on it.
Even with the best case scenario – that your property is almost constantly occupied and you’re making money hand over fist has it’s drawbacks.
Every two days, you’ll need to hand over the keys, show people round, and be on call when they can’t work out how to use the the hot water. You’ll need to organise a full top to bottom clean, wash the bedding, and make sure all of the surfaces are pristine, so you don’t end up with a bad review on the Airbnb site. It’s hard work, and you’ll need to do it yourself or hire somebody else to do it for you.
But for an average £119 per day, it has to be worth it.