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Explore the Alternative:
How to turn a spare room into a holiday let

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August 11, 2021
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Homeowners can tap into a lucrative money stream by turning a spare room into a holiday let.

The last decade has seen a huge influx of websites such as Airbnb to help homeowners rent out their spare rooms to travellers. And the power of the internet means that potential paying guests could be checking out your property from just about anywhere in the world.

Airbnb now offers accommodation in more than 26,000 cities in 192 countries but you can advertise your property privately on social media if you prefer.

As well as spare rooms, you can let all manner of accommodation, from an attic room or a granny flat to a barn conversion or your entire house while you are on holiday.

Before you go ahead, however, you will need to consult your:

  • Home insurer to check you’ll be fully covered
  • Mortgage lender to ensure you’re not breaching your loan agreement
  • Local authority to check if there are any planning regulations to consider

spare room

Photo by Adam Winger on Unsplash.

How much can you earn by turning a spare room into a holiday let?

How much you can earn by renting out parts or all of your home depends on what you’re offering and where it is. Hosts can set prices per night, week or month and charge extra for multiple guests, if they have room to accommodate them.

Your best bet when setting a rate is to assess the competition and find out what’s being charged for comparable accommodation near you.

A spare bedroom in a city such as London can earn anything from £40 a night and Airbnb reckons an average host earns £3,000 a year from just 36 nights a year of lets. But don’t forget the commission – Airbnb takes 3% from hosts and between 6% and 12% from guests.

Our new guide to buying and owning a HOLIDAY HOME is out now.


Do I need planning permission to let my spare room?

In many cases, you won’t need planning permission but before you proceed, you should check local planning rules with your council.

The offer of temporary sleeping accommodation in a residential property as a holiday let could be regarded as a “material change of use” and planning permission may be required.

In London, an exemption has been made to permit short-term lets without planning permission as long as the cumulative number of lets does not exceed 90 nights per calendar year.

Vetting guests in your spare room

You will also want to do some homework on your guests, especially if they will be sleeping in a spare room and sharing some facilities.

With guest profiles and reviews, Airbnb makes it easier to vet visitors. You can also contact them with any questions you may have. You may want to know who else will be joining them on the trip and the purpose of their visit.

You can tell them about any terms and conditions and house rules you have. Ask them to sign a rental contract confirming these rules.

If you are advertising your spare room privately, a booking form is still a good way to screen guests – you might want to ask for the names and ages of your prospective guests.

You can decide who you want to stay in your home. You can stipulate a maximum group size and whether pets are welcome. You can also decline certain activities, such as stag or hen parties.

Tips for renting out your spare room as a holiday let

There are a number of things you can do to make sure your guests have a more comfortable stay in your spare room and provide pleasing feedback after their visit.

spare room

Photo by CDC on Unsplash.

Thorough cleaning is a must

For your sake, and the sake of your guests, you must ensure the spare room and other areas in the home that guests will have access to are thoroughly cleaned, disinfected and tidy.

Cleaning will be even more important and any surface a guest will come into contact with must be cleaned and sanitised.

Risks can be further reduced by keeping rooms ventilated during cleaning and asking guests to strip beds and put linens and towels into laundry bags provided in the spare room when they leave.

Upgrade your security

The spare room or rooms you intend to let should ideally have their own independent locks and keys. Upgrade your home’s general security and you may get a discount on your insurance costs.

Sing the praises of your neighbourhood

Research what’s going on where, such as when festivals are taking place, where the best children’s attractions are, where the best beach is, and which pubs are the best. Talk about these in your advertising and you will make your property more attractive as a holiday let.

Go the extra mile in your spare room

The little extras in your home can make all the difference so if you have a selection of beach games or an Xbox on hand, make sure your guests know about them. Handwritten welcome notes and fresh cut flowers in a spare room can make all the difference too.

Free and reliable WiFi is a must

Your guests may be taking a break from their everyday work lives but they will want to check in with friends and loved ones (and perhaps even work) regularly, even if it’s only to post the day’s photographs on Instagram.

And so to bed…

Invest in a really good mattress for your spare room to ensure your guests get a restful night’s sleep, one they will remember for all the right reasons.

spare room

 Photo by HausPhotoMedia.Com on Unsplash.

Listen to feedback from your guests

Regard your guests as critical friends. Listen to what they have to say about your home and the accommodation provided. You may think Aunt Ivy’s ashes in an urn on the mantelpiece is a respectful nod to the past but if it gives your paying guests nightmares, it’s probably time to relocate the dear old love!

Talk to your insurer

Adrian Flux can insure your spare room or complete home for short term letting whether you’re advertising through a peer to peer platform such as Airbnb or you’re promoting your home on your own social media.

We have bespoke holiday let policies to suit, whether you are renting out a single room, a granny flat, a barn extension or your entire home.

Call  0800 369 8590 to speak to one of our holiday home insurance experts — 81.5% of all customers receiving an online quote in August 2022 could have obtained a cheaper quote over the phone, based on the information they provided.

And download the ultimate guide to buying a second home to use as a holiday home here.


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