Would you rent your home to strangers?

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On 3rd June, Cardiff hosts the Champions League Final. So, where will all the fans stay?

The stars of world football are coming to Cardiff and with them, thousands of fans. The price of a hotel room in the Welsh capital is sky high and the majority of them have been booked up for months anyway.

So, if you’ll be fleeing the city before the hoards descend, could you make some money from your empty home?

The rapid rise of the sharing economy and home-share platforms like Airbnb, Homestay, and Wimdu is changing the way we travel and even making us some money.

How do I rent my home on a home sharing site?

Home sharing is designed to be simple. If you’re planning a holiday and leaving your house empty, or you happen to have a spare room which you’d like to make some money from, you can sign up to Airbnb or other similar sites, like Wimdu and Homestay, hassle-free.

To really get the most out of your hosting experience, be prepared to put some work in to ensuring your home is as attractive as it can be.

Good quality photos will really help – a well-lit photo of a nice clean space will go much further in attracting customers than a blurry photo of a messy space.

It’s important to make sure it’s fresh and clean before the guests arrive; nobody likes to come in to a messy home! For more tips on how to rent your home effectively, take a look at our guide to being the perfect host.

Will it cost me anything to sign up?

Signing up to home-sharing sites like Homestay, Airbnb, and Wimdu is free, but you should be aware that Airbnb will charge a service fee for handling the transactions between guest and host.

The fee for hosts is 3% of the booking’s value, which is all deducted from the total payout received – so you won’t have to handle any money yourself. However, you may have to pay for more loo roll...

How much money can I make from my empty home?

If you’re looking to make money from home-sharing, bear in mind that you will be competing with hotels so don’t price yourself too highly, otherwise you might put off prospective customers.

Check out local hotel prices, the rates charged by other hosts in your area, and price yourself accordingly. You should also keep an eye on price increases around big events - the average nightly price on Airbnb is over £200 for one person staying two nights in Cardiff over the Champions League Final weekend. For Homestay users, the average nightly price is closer to £40 per night.

When asked about profitability, experienced host, Alok Yadav, advised that home-sharing is a great value option, he said: “[Home-sharing] is a low or almost no-investment model as long as you have the space available.”

Fellow host, Jamie Long, highlighted the importance of location in making a profit, he said: “I found [hosting] very profitable due to the central location of my flat.

“Less central places may find it is only worthwhile for the big events. Most people I hosted didn’t have transport and needed to be in walking distance of the city centre.”

Does my home insurer need to know I rent out my home?

It would be wise to let your insurer know as renting out your home as a host may invalidate your home insurance. However, Admiral now offers host insurance to cover those wanting to put their main residence up on sites like Airbnb.

The Host Cover can be included when purchasing your home insurance with Admiral. It covers your home for theft and if your temporary tenants accidentally damage your home or contents.

What do home-sharers really think?

Although there are some horror stories attached to hosting, most hosts find home-sharing very enjoyable. We spoke to some Admiral employees who have shared their stories about their experience of hosting.

Jamie Long advised us to avoid any unfortunate incidents with guests, always give yourself the option to decline a request. Airbnb has an ‘instant book option’ and while this may be useful for guests, it can increase the risk of unpleasant guests.

Airbnb user, Leah Frank, noted Airbnb rates you as a person who has stayed, she advised: “It’s in your interest to leave the place you stay in as you find it.”

Should your guests damage your property, let the hosting site know and they may well compensate you a certain amount towards replacements – when some of Jamie’s furniture was damaged by guests, he was repaid out of their security deposit within five days. He also recommends cleaning the space as thoroughly as it might be in a hotel.

Jamie advised the personal touch makes a big difference, he suggested: “A couple of beers for some lads over for the rugby, teas, coffees and maybe a pack of sweets for families etc.”

Potential hosts would also be well advised to let guests know what kind of host you will be, whether you intend to get to know your guests and offer a local’s perspective, or if you’re aiming for a hands-off approach, letting the guests know beforehand can help them decide on whether to book.

Good communication with guests is also important, as noted by Airbnb user, Andrey Gonzalez-Robles, who said: “Pictures are key, listing the services you can offer (Wi-Fi, how many toilets, etc) and having a short response time.”

So, if you hope to make some money from your home while it’s empty and are in a sharing mood, it may be worth considering signing up to one of the many sites available. If you live in Cardiff, you may want to do some research now to see if you could be quids-in Champions League Final weekend.

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