Putting your property on the Airbnb map is a big step that requires some preparation on the part of the owner. There are different rules and regulations in each country, and it is essential to understand local legislation before renting any space out to a guest on a short-term basis. This guide explains how hosts can get an Airbnb licence and get their vacation business up and running.
Airbnb provides a home-style residence for vacation goers or business people travelling away. The properties are all residential style buildings such as houses, apartments, caravans etc. It has taken the world by storm and hosts have properties all over the globe. These properties can be rented on a short-term (two nights) basis or for months at a time depending on the regulations in the chosen country. This method of vacationing is very popular amongst travellers as it provides a comfortable, autonomous alternative to typically more expensive hotel options.
What is an Airbnb host?
An Airbnb host is anyone who owns a property that is registered on the platform. Registration is, in theory, quite straightforward as demonstrated here by UpperKey. These properties are listed with all the required details (bedrooms, location, amenities, pet-friendly options) on the website for potential guests to browse through and choose from. A host can receive reviews, which move them up the rankings and provide valuable feedback about their property on offer.
How to Get an Airbnb Licence
In order to become a fully-fledged and legitimate Airbnb host, most countries require you to have a licence first. The route to registration varies across the globe, and below we will take a look at some of the most popular tourist location requirements for hosts. It is vital to verify with the local government what is expected of any potential host or else risk a substantial fine for breaking the rules and in some cases the law. Generally speaking, properties must:
· Be registered with either a permit or a licence
· Meet safety standards of the local building regulations
· Be listed on the platform legitimately
· Comply with all the rules of the local authority
London is one of the most popular destinations for hosts around the world, largely owing to the vast tourist appeal of this key city. People flock here from all over the world for an authentic British experience, so there is a constant demand for vacation short-term rentals.
For Airbnb properties in London, properties must undergo certain assessments like a flood risk assessment, and sometimes a fire regulation inspection too. These procedures must be supported by proof of land registry documentation when making the initial application. This application should be made to the local council where the building is located and will carry a fee for processing. Most boroughs allow for an online application and will update potential hosts electronically.
Key Points to Take Away
· Airbnb is particularly popular in London owing to the high costs of hotels and other tourist accommodation options.
· Hosts must comply with local policy and ensure applications are verified and legitimate in the eyes of all related laws.
London 90-Day Rule
Some places, like London, place restrictions on what is allowed with regards to shorter term rental properties. The 90-day rule is currently in place throughout the City of London and there don’t seem to be any plans to change it. This legislation is in place to protect private renting in local areas and ensure that housing is still available for London residents.
Airbnb sometimes poses a threat to local renting options, and second home purchases for the purposes of renting are often frowned upon and heavily discouraged. How to get around the London 90-day rule is a bit of a grey area, but there are options such as using a professional management company like UpperKey and ensuring the property does not sit vacant.
Now let’s compare London's regulations to the city of Miami's regulations regarding Airbnb properties. These are two major tourist cities but vary greatly in terms of what they will and will not allow from this type of business. Comparing the two gives hosts a better sense of the different approaches around the world.
Key Points to Take Away
· To become a host in Miami, a licence must be obtained from the Floridian Department of Business and Professional Regulation. This license is known as the State Vacation Rental Dwelling License.
· There is a licence fee of $50 which is a standard cost. There will be additional costs on top of this namely: a Business tax receipt number for $45 and a Resort Tax Certificate Number which costs around $25.
· Any potential Airbnb short-term let residence must undergo a complete inspection from the local fire department to verify everything is up to standard and all guests will be protected as they should be.
· Unlike London restrictions, properties in Miami cannot be leased for any longer than a 30 day period. This means most guests must undertake shorter holiday contracts with their host. If this does not happen, the host will be subject to a costly fine.
Why is it Difficult to Get an Airbnb Licence in Some Major Cities?
Hosts may find difficulty in securing a licence in some major cities. It does depend on what the government has decided about this type of letting and how the short-term letting market is managed in terms of policy and legislation. It is worth doing extensive research before deciding to embark on this journey as even one toe out of line can lead to a costly shut down of your venture. Let’s take a look at the reasons why this is.
Detracts from the Local Hospitality Industry
Hotels and B&Bs in the local area are an important source of tax revenue and income for the local area. When Airbnbs are introduced in full force, there is a depleted probability that travellers will turn to hotels and such over the alternative.
Hotels are usually more expensive and less convenient for vacation goers, especially when there is a home-style option waiting in the wings. Therefore, second property ownership for this purpose, or primary properties being used in this way, face heavy restrictions and have to operate within specific guidelines else face a big fine and legal action.
Airbnb is Not Heavily Regulated
Despite some local authorities requiring certain permits and assessments before allowing a host to commence trading, the industry generally is not heavily regulated. What that means for guests is that there is an added danger element and lack of protection overall while travelling and staying. Certain cities require fire inspections or flood risk style assessments, but some don’t. This means the grey area crops up again and some hosts may take advantage of this by not ensuring the property meets required building regulations or standards.
Local Disruption Problems
Hotels and similar are usually built on the back of proper permits, planning considerations and thoughts pertaining to residents and the local community. Airbnbs are primarily residential dwellings being used for leisure purposes and are therefore not often ideally located for such things. This means there is a risk of noise pollution and general disruption to residents in the closer community.
Tourists such as hen parties, or large groups can pose a threat to peaceful conditions and disrupt the daily patterns of the local people. This is obviously not ideal for everyone and can lead to licence rejection in some instances.
Second Home Opposition
A major backlash to Airbnb has been how it has highlighted, and arguably accentuated, key housing issues for residents. The renting market is already largely competitive, and when second home ownership for the sole purposes of external, short-term lets is thrown into the mix, the situation can be tenuous, to say the least. It will be much more difficult to obtain a hosting licence, if not impossible, in areas where there is a significant lack of general housing.
Some countries heavily regulate the tourism industry to protect native economies and people. This can be a roadblock for some hosts in certain places as they must fall in line with restrictions and tick many boxes to ensure their business is legitimate and compliant. The tourist industry is a heavy source of income for lots of countries globally and, therefore, is controlled by government agencies to protect the source of revenue. Some countries give preference to more traditional hospitality options such as hotels and restaurants by prohibiting this type of rental option from taking root.
Overall, getting an Airbnb licence and becoming a legitimate host can be an easy process. There are certain hoops to jump through that vary from country to country, but the application steps are fairly intuitive and straightforward. Most documentation can be provided electronically and the profile may be verified online as well. Making sure all standards are met is the hard part, as hosts don’t want to fall victim to specific fines that can be cast upon them if they fail to meet local standards.