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Spare space? How to make money as a Host on Airbnb

Whether you've got a spare bedroom in the city or a holiday cottage on the beach, read on to find out how you could make some extra income by listing your space on Airbnb.

By Mumsnet HQ | Last updated May 10, 2022

family walking into cottage

In association with

What is Airbnb?

Airbnb was born in 2007 when two Hosts welcomed three guests into their San Francisco home, and has since grown to four million Hosts who have welcomed more than 900 million guests in almost every country across the globe. 

Every day, Hosts offer one-of-a-kind stays and unique experiences that make it possible for guests to experience the world in more authentic and connected ways. Chances are, you've probably used Airbnb before as a guest - unique stays, competitive pricing and great variety makes Airbnb ideal for family holidays, special weekends away and everything in between. But have you considered hosting? If you’re able to host, it could be a simple way to top up your income or fund your own travel plans.

How does Airbnb work?

Hosts create a listing on Airbnb (more on that later) and then guests can get in touch to ask questions about your property, and book and pay entirely through the Airbnb platform. Airbnb  offers a messaging system and collects and transfers payments securely to make booking and hosting as simple as possible. Both Hosts and guests receive reviews after a stay, which helps everyone to make informed decisions about future stays.

Related: The top 10 UK holidays destinations for families

Jane’s Host story

For many Hosts, like MNHQer Jane, 39, a mum to a toddler and soon-to-be mum to a newborn, hosting on Airbnb has allowed for financial peace of mind. 

Women now make up more than 55% of the Host community on Airbnb, with many wanting additional financial security as well as greater flexibility for their families. 

Jane first started hosting on Airbnb in 2018 when her family bought their house in Leyton. While they immediately did some upgrading and decorating, they still needed a few years of saving under their belt before bigger changes could be made.

“Hosting on Airbnb allowed us to make some extra money when we weren’t at home. My husband and I are both from Ireland and we spend a lot of time back in Dublin at Christmas and in the summer, so we were delighted to be able to benefit from this financially.”

Benefits of hosting

For Jane, there have been a number of benefits to hosting, especially now that she’s gearing up to welcome a new arrival.

Earn extra income

“With my maternity leave starting in October, knowing that we will be hosting is extra peace of mind financially.”

Whether it’s helping to fund a longer maternity leave or an early retirement, Hosts on Airbnb are creating valuable additional income streams for themselves and their communities. Last summer, Hosts in the UK earned more than £225 million, with the average Host pocketing nearly £1,000*.

Prospective Hosts in the UK can also learn more about how much they could earn by sharing their space on Airbnb through the What’s My Place Worth tool.** The interactive tool tells you your estimated income based on geography and the type of listing, as well as using previous Airbnb booking data in the area.

Greater flexibility

“Hosting gives my family more flexibility. We may even decide to take an extended holiday next summer to make the most of my maternity leave. Hosting could cover a lot of the cost of doing this and just makes so much sense for us!”

Share what you love

“We’ve also really enjoyed hosting. While our house isn’t perfect (the kitchen in particular is quite dated), our guests have almost made us feel better about it! I think having access to a large garden in London has been a real plus for them, or things like having a nice Christmas tree up in December has ensured our guests have felt welcome and as though they are staying in a home. We’ve had some really positive feedback.”

Connect with guests 

“Hosting has allowed us to meet people we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to meet. We’ve got into a good flow when we know guests are coming. The first time we hosted it felt a little unusual, but now it really doesn’t take too much time and stress. We’ve also added some extra storage to the bedrooms, which has made everyone’s lives easier.”

Support to help you grow as a Host

You can learn how to become a great Host with the variety of resources, tools and tips Airbnb has available. You can even connect with an experienced Host who will be available to answer all your questions or join a complimentary online class to learn more about hosting.

Top tips for hosting

When it comes to creating a simple hosting routine, here are some tips to help you get started.

  • Be honest and flexible
  • Check in with guests regularly - both once they’ve made their booking, before their trip and when they begin their stay
  • Check if they need any additional amenities - e.g. a newborn bed or crib
  • Organise a smooth check-in - this can be done in person or you can leave a key or code for your guests
  • Explain how everything works - gadgets, electronics, keys etc.
  • Leave guests information on what they can do in the surrounding area
  • Keep the space clean
  • Be available if your guests need you

Related: Keep cool with the best sun hats for women

three women sitting around garden table

How to become a Host on Airbnb

1. Create your listing

Taking less than 10 steps to complete, listing your space on Airbnb is both quick and easy. Whatever space you're working with, make sure to give a detailed description that includes all the information that you would like to know before booking accommodation, for example: What's on offer nearby? Is it good for families? Also, make sure to take plenty of pictures in order to give prospective guests an accurate idea of the space. Much like online dating, you want your photos to be flattering, but not misleading.

You will have full control of your availability, pricing, house rules and how you interact with guests. You can set check-in times and handle that process however you like.

If you need additional support, new Hosts can request help from a dedicated Airbnb ambassador.

2. Welcome guests

You can chat to your guests before they arrive using the Airbnb messaging feature.

Hosts clean the spaces guests can use, and provide essentials like clean sheets, towels and toilet paper – beyond this, what you choose to offer is up to you.

You can greet your guests in person, if you like, or simply leave a key or a code securely for them to collect.

3. Get paid

Guests are charged before arrival, and payment is transferred to you 24 hours after check in, minus a service fee charged for Airbnb’s platform services. You can choose which payment method to add to your account, including PayPal, direct deposit or international money wire, and a few other ways too.

woman standing with dog in front of a house

Things to consider before hosting

Before you can get started as a Host, you need to check what the regulations are around hosting short-term paying guests in your area and, if you rent your home, you need to get permission from your landlord too. It's also worth discussing your plans with your neighbours and taking their thoughts into consideration when creating your house rules.

Airbnb also has prepared an article on responsible hosting in the UK, which is worth a read before you get started, and has partnered with leading safety experts to produce a guide for the UK Host community which includes advice on how to stay safe while hosting, signs of potentially suspicious activity from guests and information on how to stay safe online.

The idea of opening your home to strangers can be daunting, so Airbnb provides some guarantees for your peace of mind.

ID verification process

Although Airbnb strongly encourages all guests to submit a profile photo and require them to verify their phone and email before they can make a booking, for extra security Hosts can ask that all prospective guests have their IDs verified before booking a stay at your property. You can find out more about this here.

Host with confidence 

Secure communication

Airbnb’s secure messaging platform lets you communicate with guests during the booking process and during their stay, as well as after their stay in order to resolve any issues.

Airbnb's Host Guarantee

The Airbnb Host Guarantee provides a Host with protection for up to $1,000,000 for damages to the covered property in the rare event of guest damages above the security deposit or if no security deposit is in place.

The Host Guarantee Programme doesn't cover cash and securities, collectibles, rare artwork, jewellery, pets or personal liability. Airbnb recommends that Hosts secure or remove valuables when renting their property. The programme also doesn't cover loss or damage to property due to wear and tear.

Fancy becoming a Host on Airbnb?

Now that summer is in full swing and staycations are well underway, there’s no better time to start your Airbnb journey. 

*Total and median UK host earnings for 1 June 2020 - 31 August 2020, converted from USD on 9 March 2021

**The What’s My Place Worth tool computes the estimated income through inputs for geography, type of listing and space and factors in prior Airbnb booking data in the area. We make a few simple assumptions and calculations to determine your earnings:

  • If you have an entire place, we assume you can host four guests. If you’re listing a private room, we count that as two guests, and for a shared room, just one guest. You can change your selections in the drop-down menu any time.

  • We take the median nightly price (before expenses, fees and taxes) based on booking data in your area from the last 12 months.

  • We then multiply that price by the total number of occupied nights to get the monthly earnings estimate. To estimate the number of nights that you might host, we look at how often others in your area are hosting.

Keep in mind, these are just estimates. How much you actually earn depends on a number of other factors such as your availability, price, acceptance and cancellation rates, any legal restrictions, and demand in your area.