If you're leaving home for Christmas keep your house festive by renting it out. Plus, you could make some extra cash
Christmas is the one time of year when you’re expected to cuddle up in front of the sofa for days on end, with nothing but a tub of Quality Street and the latest Netflix show for company.
But a lot of us are forced to abandon our sofas and drive hours to spend the season with parents and family while our homes are left empty, the tree lights off and the festive alcohol waiting patiently for New Years Eve.
What if your home could stay festive while you were away and make you some spare cash at the same time? Airbnb and other websites can offer you the chance to advertise and let your home easily and quickly.
Many holidaymakers decide to jet off over Xmas, or they might be visiting family where you live and need more space – you could offer a warm home with more personality than a blank hotel room. Renting your home out over the Christmas week can also offer peace of mind – an empty house at Christmas can be a vulnerable house.
However, renting your home out to strangers can be risky. Here’s what you need to do to make sure you’re not ringing in the New Year by clearing up a mess.
Choose your guests carefully
When someone asks to stay at your home, make sure you check their profile thoroughly before accepting.
Read through the reviews they’ve been given by other hosts and see how long they’ve been using the site. If they don’t have any reviews and only recently joined, they may have an ulterior motive for wanting to stay in your home.
While it may seem invasive, there’s nothing wrong with looking them up on other social media. You could consider accepting guests who have been verified by Airbnb. This means that have send the booking website a copy of their ID, uploaded a photo and connected their profile to their Facebook account. Guests can complete verification before booking, but bear in mind that this only applies to the person who is booking and not other guests who may be accompanying them.
Ask them to pay a deposit
Charging a security deposit might seem extreme, but many hosts do it. This deposit could cover things like spilled wine or an unreturned key, but it also wards off guests who may be thinking about booking your Airbnb to host a party.
In order to make a claim against your security deposit, you must report the issue to Airbnb within 48 hours. If your guest doesn’t agree that they’ve done anything wrong, you can go through Airbnb’s Resolution Centre – they will review the situation and mediate to make a final decision.
Take out Host Insurance
Before setting your home up as a holiday destination, make sure your home insurance covers you. Some policies don’t provide protection for damage caused by paying guests, so we decided to create Admiral Host Insurance.
Host insurance covers you for up to 90 days of home rental a year, and covers the same things as a normal home insurance policy. Admiral Host Insurance does however have a limit of £5,000 for theft, malicious damage and accidental damage to high risk items collectively, unless they are kept in a locked safe or removed from the home. You can add host insurance on to your normal Admiral Home Insurance policy.
Deck the halls - literally
Renting your house out over Christmas isn’t just a case of handing over the keys and setting off. You obviously need to make sure the house is clean and tidy, but giving your home to another family over the festive period means you should go the extra mile.
Decorate the house with a tree and lights and make sure there are plenty of board games and family activities around the house for them to enjoy.
Help guests feel at home
In the run up to your guest’s stay and once they’re in your home, try to make their visit as fun and festive as possible. Put together a list of places they could visit and activities they could do – are there any Christmas markets or temporary ice skating rinks near your home, for example?