How far ahead should I take bookings?

Its coming close to winter here in London and although the first snow has not yet fallen bookings have become thinner on the ground. I am lucky that London always has someone arriving from somewhere so bookings do come in no matter what the weather but sometimes it's nice to have firm bookings in advance - or so I used to think? The problem with being an airbnb host is that it becomes your life in many ways. For some this is a good thing and can add meaning and a source of enjoyment. For me this means I am effectively on call 24hours a day. I can't afford to pay anyone else to look after my business and nobody will ever care about it as much as I do. Thankfully there have been few occasions which has meant I have to run away from my real 9-5 job to sort out a problem at my listing. However I am conscious of the fact that one day something may go very wrong. To reduce the chance of future issues I have decided to limit my calendar to only a month in advance. To my knowledge there is no way of doing this other than blocking off the dates. There is a function to limit bookings for only 3 months in advance but this is too long for me. Why do this? Because my life doesn't work on more than a 1 month ahead schedule. If I take a booking 3 months in advance and my life changes to the point where I can't handle the booking then I have to cancel and that means I get a penalty from airbnb and then no more bookings.   [caption id="attachment_220" align="aligncenter" width="347"]You can limit how far in advance you want bookings. You can limit how far in advance you want bookings.[/caption]   I get a lot of last minute guests so I can still turn a profit only allowing bookings in the same month. In fact I have found that last minute bookings can achieve the  highest prices (due to other good listings being already full) and the guests tend to be those who are in the city for a short time and just need somewhere to crash before they leave - this means they tend to arrive in the evening after I get home from work and therefore there is no mad rush to get the room ready. I will have to stop using Instant book also as I need to control what time people will be coming and going to my place. Instant book has been very successful for me. I think all my Instant book guests were very nice people and knew what they wanted. As mush as I like this tool its got to go as one wrong booking could cause a nightmare for me. I already had a problem a few weeks ago with a guest who was coming and I couldn't be there to meet her. I asked a friend to stay at my house and wait for the guest who was supposed to be there about 11am. My friend ended up waiting four hours for the guest (which is not unusual as many people misjudge the amount of time it will take them to clear customs at Heathrow airport and then actually make it all the way to my place) but it was very embarrassing for me and it really put my friend out.

Airbnb hosts are not affected by the new buy-to-let tax rules

Have you heard of the new rules regarding the tax deduction on mortgage interest for buy-to-let (otherwise known as an investment property to the rest of the planet)  in the UK? The recent announcement by the UK government that tax relief is going to be limited to 20% has just been made clearer by some of the details. You can read this article in the Telegraph for further details: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/investing/buy-to-let/11914142/Will-my-holiday-home-get-hit-by-the-new-buy-to-let-tax.html The main point is Airbnb hosts could be exempt from the new rules and still be able to claim the full tax deduction. This will come as some relief for many an airbnb host including me. The general reason for this is that the government is considering "furnished holidays lettings" as a business and not just and investment. To qualify as a furnished holiday let the government has provided some criteria:

  • The accommodation must the in UK or EEA (part of the Eurozone) and be commercially let
  • It has to be furnished
  • It must be available for let at least 210 days of the year
  • It must have been let for at least 105 days
  • It cannot be let for a single trip of more than 155 days
For most hosts the above criteria will be no issue at all. The new rules do make some sense. Those hosts who are letting for less than 105 days of the year will most likely be claiming the rent-a-room scheme allowance and not be claiming any deductions anyway. These changes only take partial effect in 2017 and not fully implemented until 2020 so a little planning should see you right.