Renting out your home on Airbnb is a great way to bring in some extra cash, but it can come with its downsides - particularly if the property is damaged by guests.
More holidaymakers are now opting to shun hotel stays in favour of renting out a home, with recent news report showing that the number of Airbnb room listings in London has quadrupled in the last four years.
But what are your legal rights if you choose to let out your property?
Here Nicole Rogers, solicitor at DAS Law, answers all of the important questions you need to know if you are thinking of tapping into this growing market.
What if my belongings are damaged or stolen?
If your property or belongings are damaged or stolen by Airbnb guests, it is unlikely your home and contents policy will cover you, as the insurer will not usually have catered for paying visitors when arranging the policy.
The host would need to clarify with their insurer as to whether their cover would be sufficient to cover losses.
Airbnb does offer a 'host guarantee', whereby the firm promises to reimburse hosts for damages of up to £600,000, although the company adds that hosts should not consider this as a replacement for owners’ or renters’ home insurance.
While a host is not required to take out specific landlord insurance, it would be advisable to speak with a specialist broker or insurer to ensure sufficient protection.
Is it okay to put my home on Airbnb if I’m renting?
Millions of Airbnb hosts may have unknowingly breached the terms of their leases, leaving them vulnerable to legal action or the loss of their tenancy.
The vast majority of tenancy and leasehold agreements are likely to state that the property in question may only be used as a private residence. This would prevent tenants from renting out or 'sharing' their flat or home for short periods.
Anyone letting their property out through Airbnb should therefore check their tenancy or leasehold agreements first.
Is it okay to put my home on Airbnb if I have a mortgage?
It is not just those renting who should be wary of breaking contracts - mortgage companies may also take a dim view of homeowners offering short-term lettings of their property.
It would be wise for owners to contact their mortgage company before offering their home out, as they may well be breaking their mortgage contract.
Whilst buy-to-let mortgages allow for assured short-term tenancy, 'short-term' is often defined as six months. Clearly, Airbnb stays are considerably shorter than this.
What about health and safety?
Hosts must ensure that the premises are reasonably safe for visitors. With regards to fire safety, landlords should inform visitors of a fire evacuation route.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 makes landlords responsible for taking steps to protect the people using your premises from the risk of fire.
This means that a host should carry out a fire risk assessment and, if necessary, improve the fire safety measures while keeping the risks, and fire safety measures, under review.
If a visitor has suffered an injury at a host's premises, he or she may seek to pursue a personal injury claim, particularly if the host has breached their duty of care to the visitor, which subsequently has caused foreseeable injury.
Do I need public liability insurance?
There is no legal obligation to take out public liability insurance to host via Airbnb.
However, it would be worthwhile to do so in order to protect yourself (the host) in the event of an injury claim from the visitor.