Are you planning to stay as an Airbnb guest anywhere this holiday season? Or maybe you have a spare room or empty home you’d like to let to visitors?
Here are some of the things you might not have thought about before becoming an Airbnb host or guest:
Who are they?
The problem for many Airbnb hosts is that you can never quite tell who is coming to stay. No background checks are made on your prospective guests, of course, and horror stories about lettings going badly wrong are sadly, commonplace.
The latest such incident – reported in the Brighton and Hove Independent on the 22nd of May 2019 – terrorised a whole community when Airbnb guests held a party in their guest’s home, fighting spilled out onto the street, and police with dogs were called to break up the disturbance.
However hard you may try to vet your guests before they arrive, therefore, the lesson is that you are never quite sure who they are going to be and how they are going to behave.
Some Airbnb guests have apparently become so concerned about what their guests might be up to that they have installed video cameras to secretly record their behaviour.
A story in the Financial Times on the 22nd of May 2019, considered whether this was a fair invasion of privacy on the part of Airbnb hosts or whether guests might be rightly affronted and concerned.
Hiding places for cameras – which are then capable of live-streaming events – have been found in light bulbs, wi-fi routers and even inside a smoke alarm, while the hosts who installed them consider the practice to be perfectly acceptable.
In some countries where Airbnb operates, hotels are banned from installing cameras in rooms – but a room let on Airbnb is not a hotel room, of course. Nevertheless, Airbnb says that it has a policy requiring hosts to tell guests whether any cameras are installed and where they are, while it puts an outright ban on installing them in bathrooms and bedrooms – although quite how such a policy is policed remains distinctly unclear.
Those who complain or are affronted by the idea of cameras in Airbnb lettings might point to the Guest Guarantee offered by the website which promises to compensate guests – to up to US$1 million for damage caused by guests – so video recordings of them causing it are not required.
The problem with that argument is that, as we have already suggested, Airbnb’s Host Guarantee is severely restricted and does not offer sufficient protection against all that might go wrong if irresponsible guests turn up at your home.
And even Airbnb agrees, warning that its Host Guarantee programme should not be regarded as an alternative to appropriate home insurance – it specifically excludes cover for valuable items such as artwork in your home, your jewellery, or collectables and neither does it provide any liability indemnity protection in your temporary role as a landlord.
For that comprehensive and confidence-boosting protection, you may need purpose-designed Airbnb insurance from UKinsuranceNET.
In summary, whether you are an Airbnb host or a guest, there is a lot to more to think about than you could possibly have imagined!