The pros and cons of Airbnb

Letting your home to holidaymakers does have a downside says Kaye Holland

As regular readers will know, from time to time I rent out my humble Harrow flat on Airbnb - aka the  San Francisco-based room/house letting website - to help meet my mortgage repayments.

And I’m not alone: all of my 30 something friends - from shop assistants to lawyers alike - who are fortunate enough to be on the property ladder are at it.

Why? Because renting out your home while your on your hols - or when a flood of ‘destination’ wedding invitations hit your doormat -  helps bring in some (always handy) extra cash. And doing so on Airbnb is much more appealing than the other option: employing an estate agent to let your flat for a minimum of six months. Airbnb allows you to earn without the hassle and commitment of renting out your pad on a long term basis.

It’s a win-win situation, right? Wrong. Having spent the summer renting my flat out to a stream of strangers (fortunately there have been no objections from the neighbours) and thus being forced to sleep on friends sofas, I can confirm that Airbnb isn’t always plain sailing.

While some of my guests have been great - here’s looking at you, Melanie and David, Kimberley and co-  others have been gruesome. From Zola who managed to stain the bath (three months later I am still scrubbing it in vain on a daily basis) to Harsh who treated my place like a hotel. It took me three full days to clean up his mess - think food splattered ceilings and a sink overflowing with dirty dishes.

When work was quiet, Airbnb was admittedly a lifesaver and helped keep the wolf from the door. But as autumn approaches and the assignments have once again started flowing in,  I've found that Airbnb has lost its lustre. Subsequently I've been turning down bookings left, right and centre.

Of course the extra cash would be welcome but I’ve reached the conclusion that as eager as I am to experience the view from The Shard,  see the Book of Mormon and head to Hawaii (all on my bucket list), I can no longer face the non stop laundry, cleaning, croissant buying and frantic crossing of fingers that my flat won’t be totally trashed.

I may have needed to rent my apartment on Airbnb out of necessity in August, but I have no intention of turning it into a business.