Does anyone Airbnb their own house anymore?
September 3, 2019 5:46 AM   Subscribe

I have a one bedroom flat (not fancy) in East London and am likely going to be away a lot (intermittently) for the rest of the year. Does anyone Airbnb their *own place* anymore?

Most of the Airbnbs I have seen are 'fit for purpose' and replace the ordinal concept of staying in someone's home. But does it still happen? If people still do this, what preparations would you make - clear away all personal belongings? Professional cleaning? Have you had experience with this? Would love to hear about it - thanks!
posted by teststrip to Work & Money (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Yes, lots of people do this - but they do it through professional AirBNB property managers who deal with pricing, reservations, cleaning, and problem resolution. You can block out any days / weeks where you know you'll be home, but of course the more you block out the harder it gets to net any money. You should expect that the property manager will recommend 500-1000 GBP of improvements and purchases (guest linens, small electronics, etc.), and you'll need high speed wireline internet and a flat screen TV with bring-your-own-subscription and WiFi if you don't have that. You MUST have a secure closet for all of your personal stuff of any value or sentimental importance, so add in the cost of a solid wood door and door frame and lock if the closet you have in mind is of typical construction (too flimsy for even an added lock to make it secure).
posted by MattD at 6:08 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


On the user side: I actually try to only stay at Airbnbs that are usually lived in by their owner and can testify that there are indeed lots of them and they are awesome.

In terms of tips- I have stayed in a few places that could have stood to be better cleaned before we arrived and once— but only once— we had an owner complain basically that there was evidence that someone had stayed in her house. So I guess be sure you’re ok with that? I can imagine it can feel invasive to have strangers, even tidy ones, in your space but it’s kinda the name of the game.

Finally, it’s really helpful when the owner leaves clear instructions/expectations for checking in and out e.g please strip the beds or we compost please take it out before you go, etc.

Good luck! We’ve had such great experiences with this.
posted by jeszac at 6:18 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


We do this occasionally; we’ve had the converse experience to jeszac in that someone complained that there were clothes in one closet (after making it clear in the description that this was someone’s house and not a rental property.) After that we sort of saw which way the wind blew and rented less often (it’s been a year since we rented), but if we were at home part time and not just recouping some vacation cost, we would probably have some lockable area where we put clothes and things and continue.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:31 AM on September 3


Someone I know did it. They didn't use a professional AirBNB a manager or anything like that. Their advice:
- "imagine a blind person with no common sense is staying over". Try and think objectively about what might get broken. If you have something that you would be really annoyed about being broken/dirty, don't leave it out (they had a few small breakages but all paid for by the guest or AirBNB).
- Put anything they're allowed to use out, in an obvious place.
- The most annoying thing is meeting the guest to give them the key - be strict about arranging a check-in time or use a keysafe.
- Some people will be really respectful about your place, some people won't.
- They used a lockable filing cabinet for personal stuff, and put other clutter (eg make up) was in a box out of the way.

The idea that you need to spend £500-£1000 on improvements is... uh, interesting. If you state clearly what facilities your place has (wifi, TV, etc) on the ad and price it appropriately, you should be fine.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:31 AM on September 3 [5 favorites]


I did this when I was in grad school, I had a shabby little townhouse in a fantastic location for weekenders, and was usually happy to vacate the area whenever someone wanted to book the place. None of my stuff was that nice, but I kept it neat and made sure the bathrooms and bedding were clean. Other than that, it's a place that hadn't been renovated in 30 years and wasn't top of the line when it was new, so it was important to manage expectations. I made sure the pictures clearly showed that this was not a luxury, or even upscale, place.

It was definitely worthwhile when I was in school and literally had nothing nice to worry about in my house. If you can take everything with you that you really care about when you leave, it makes things easier mentally.
posted by skewed at 6:49 AM on September 3


I used to do this. I have a one bedroom apartment in a seasonally desirable part of New England and I used to travel a lot for work. I rented the whole thing out for a decently low price but was very clear in the listing why it was so cheap. Like, literally, I called it a Low Mouse Occupancy Apartment because I wanted it to be super clear what was involved. I am a generally trusting person and that usually works for me, so I just left my stuff around but tidied up Specifically

- cleaned the bathroom and kitchen as much as possible (myself). Put away my things and left certain things out in visible locations (washing up stuff, coffee, trash bags, that sort of thing)
- freshened the place up, made sure it smelled great, put out flowers or something else nice and homey. Made sure the fridge was more-or-less empty and maybe left some creamer or a few beers/sodas in there
- made sure there was space for their shoes, bags, food and space to eat/rest. So I would tuck away my personal belongings but not lock them away
- left out a very friendly note that repeated a lot of the stuff in the listing, especially how to contact me, wifi password, what to do if wifi password didn't work, how to manage heat/cold, how to leave the place

I never did multiple people staying in a row, so I always was there to clean/close up. I usually did not meet the people, just told them where to find keys. This mostly worked for me, but occasionally did not. The one time it majorly did not, I had an older couple staying here and even though my listing described the stairs (28) to the place and showed the platform bed, I don't think they really knew what they were in for. AirBnB refunded their money but still paid me (surprising!) and I've been even more clear about the platform bed in subsequent listings.

I mostly got younger couples and my biggest challenge was people who weren't right for the space (people with dogs who wanted me to bend my "no pets" rule for example) sort of arguing with me. Ultimately some people will complain no matter what, which is sort of the AirBnB issue. You have to decide you don't mind, or find another way to share/rent your place. As a traveler I always want to stay in someone's home rather than a purpose-fit apartment. This definitely has ups and downs (owners unclear that we've rented the entire flat who pop in and out, weird moldering food in fridge, place looking much different from the last time they took photos) but overall it's worth it.
posted by jessamyn at 8:28 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


User side: I have stayed in many airbnbs that were lived in by the owner. I was just in one in Berlin a few months ago. She was in very close contact with us the whole time we were there. She had expectations about how we should leave the place when we left. As a user I loved it because there were books and decorations and other things around the apartment that gave the place a cool feel. She was only gone for a week. She said she only airbnb's it 4-5 times a year when she travels.

I have had similar experiences in the US, Iceland, Macedonia, France -- and other places. I think it's pretty common.
posted by crapples at 12:34 PM on September 3


Our neighbours in our block in North London do this fairly regularly, no professional agency or anything like that. They're fairly careful with who they'll rent the whole place to - think, not four early twenties dudes from out of town on the weekend of Wireless - and have a small crowd of regulars they occasionally rent a spare room to when they're in residence themselves. The place is nice but not ridiculously swish. They do pretty OK out of it.
posted by ominous_paws at 1:07 PM on September 3


My girlfriend rents her London flat on Airbnb when she is traveling. She does not work with a management company but does hire professional cleaners and use a key safe service to make the check-in process smoother. To my knowledge she has not made any upgrades specifically for Airbnb.

Some other general observations:
  • If you don't choose to work with a management company, try to arrange with a friend or neighbor to be your backup if something goes wrong while you are away. This is especially important if you won't be available in a nearby timezone.
  • You don't need to remove all of your personal belongings, but you should lock away or remove anything you don't want guests to access. This includes obvious items like jewelry and sensitive paperwork, but also extends to things like cookware requiring special care, decorative objects, expensive foods, etc.
  • People will look through your belongings, move them, and meddle with them in strange ways and for no obvious reason. Guests have moved my girlfriend's houseplants around and unfortunately not in a way that benefitted the plants. Who puts a cactus in a dark corner and over-waters it? Airbnb guests do! One couple used the sheets on the bed, the clearly indicated spare set of sheets, and then every single other set of bed linens stored in the flat during their brief stay. It's like they were celebrating a bedsheets festival or something.
  • It's a good idea to have a written house manual but you should also assume that people will not read it.
  • People will try to haggle about things, like offering to clean the flat themselves instead of paying the cleaning fee or asking to bring pets to a place that does not permit them. Don't give in. They probably mean well, but it's better to stick to your policies and professional standards.

posted by 4rtemis at 8:05 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


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