I will never have Airbnb Superhost status

From the start of the year my star ratings have gradually gotten worse. In January I had 79% 5 star reviews, just shy of the 80% required for Superhost status. Since then my five star reviews have dropped to 66%. For a while I was very unsure why the ratings had dropped so much. Almost all my guests had written in their reviews that they were very happy with their stay. The only negative review I recall said the “bathroom was too cold” which was true because my wife had left a window open in the room across the hallway and we didn’t notice for two days (whoops!). [caption id="attachment_114" align="aligncenter" width="653"]Airbnb now give you a breakdown on your star ratings by category Airbnb now give you a breakdown on your star ratings by category[/caption]

Room For Improvement

Recently Airbnb have introduced a tool on the dashboard giving you a breakdown of the categories for your star ratings (previously these were aggregated). So you can now see how many stars you got for ‘Cleanliness’ for example. My breakdown for each of my listing highlighted my problem – the location. I had been marked down on location several times (some reviews only giving my one star) which explains my ratings dropping of gradually. Frustratingly location is the only area I can do little about. It true the area I live in is not considered the best part of London (to put it mildly). But It is located in zone 3 (of a possible 6) and my low price reflects the unattractiveness of the area. If I was located in a leaf part of central London then you can bet I would be charging much much more.
Airbnb recommends me to better describe my area in my listing description so to give guests a fair warning of what to expect. I’m hesitant to do this as this would surely put guests off. I’ve added into my description ‘ethnically diverse part of London.’ My area Newham is about at ethnically diverse as you can get as it attracts the poorest people of London, mostly new arrivals in the UK from Eastern Europe, and has a large Muslim community from the sub continent.
[caption id="attachment_115" align="aligncenter" width="745"]To reach superhost status you need 80% five star reviews To reach superhost status you need 80% five star reviews[/caption]

Your only as good as your last review

Potential guests do look at your star rating when choosing a listing but the most emphasis is on your most recent review. A recent review (ideally very recently, no more than a couple of weeks old) is the best advert for your listing. If you’re unlucky enough to have a very bad recent review then this could explain a significant drop off in bookings. My chances of reaching Superhost status are looking very slim. My booking have not suffered since my ratings decline mostly I believe to the general increase in demand during the summer and keeping my prices well below the London average.

Does your mortgage provider allow you to take Airbnb guests?

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 14.26.34 My mortgage provider is not happy with me having using Airbnb to take in paying guests. They sent me a letter saying that they have be tipped off I have tenants and I am in breach of contract. I rang my bank and asked for them to send me a copy of the terms and conditions  of my mortgage. I read each point cover to cover with interest and could not find any mention of lodgers, paying guests, or any mention at all of who can or can not live in the house.

What type of mortgage do you have?

In the UK if your buying a property to live in this is treated differently compared to buying to invest, from a mortgage point of view (also from a tax point of view). In the UK a buy-to-let mortgage (investment mortgage) is different from a principal place of residence mortgage (your home). In fact there is no real difference in the actual mortgage contract except some minor wording and usually a higher interest rate for buy-to-let. To my knowledge there is no such thing as a mortgage for owners who live in their homes but rent out rooms (to lodgers or other short term paying guests). It has been suggested to me that mortgage providers are willing to give permission for paying guests if you ask for it, bus of course asking risks refusal and will undoubtably raise suspicion. Most hosts I assume prefer to keep quiet. Although taking in paying guests is not new the internet and the Airbnb platform has certainly increased it like never before. I suspect most mortgage providers have not yet fully developed how to deal with this phenomenon.

Airbnb guests do not constitute a tenancy

I rang my bank and they asked me if I had created a tenancy for a room in my house (i.e. drawn up a formal lease). I said I have not. There is no way an airbnb guest sleeping in my spare room for a couple of nights can be classified as a lease.  The bank was happy with my answer and it appears that is the end of it. Some of the research I have done on the subject I have found that banks are not happy with sub-let properties because of the potential problems as it could disrupt a forced sale (in the even of nonpayment of mortgage) as tenants have rights.