Hosting through Airbnb - what you need to know

How to make sure you're covered

cosy hotel bedroom for two

Earlier this year, a Canadian couple rented out their house on Airbnb to a small wedding party for a weekend.

By Monday morning, though, there house was a disaster zone, with damage that's taking $150,000 to fix. On this occasion, the cost is being met by Airbnb - but that isn't always the case. We look at how to make sure you're covered, as well as how to make sure you stay the right side of the law.

First, and most importantly, hosts should understand that Airbnb's Host Guarantee isn't a catch-all for all damage or financial loss. It's designed to protect hosts for damages to their own property or possessions by a guest - but that's all.

If the guest manages to flood the flat below, for example, you're on your own. It also doesn't cover damage to communal areas, and cash, valuables and pets are excluded.

As a result, you'll need to talk to your own insurer to be sure you're covered - and probably pay a little more.

There's also no personal liability insurance included in the Host Guarantee; so, if a guest sues you because they've hurt themselves and think it's your fault, you wouldn't be covered. Again, you'll need additional insurance.

You'll also need to check with your mortgage company that subletting is permissible - it often isn't, especially if the room or whole property is to be let out for much if the time.

Meanwhile, having paying guests in your home means you'll have to comply with fire safety rules. These aren't particularly onerous, or even specific, but you are expected to have considered potential hazards and done all you can to minimise them.

You'll also, of course, need to comply with tax rules. In his recent budget, Chancellor George Osborne scrapped the current Rent-a-Room allowance and announced that people would be able to receive as much as £7,500 a year tax-free.

One problem you won't need to worry about is applying for planning permission. Until recently, Londoners were required to do this before letting out a room - or face fines of up to £20,000. However, there is still a limit on how much you do it, with lets limited to 90 days a year.

Finally, you may need to expect the unexpected. Last year, a California woman was forced to take legal action after a guest refused to leave - and because the let was longer than a month, under California law, the guest had a case for squatters' rights.

Rest assured, though: Airbnb promises to do all it can to help, and UK law is rather more favourable to the host.

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