Responsible hosting in the United Kingdom
We’ve put together this article to help hosts on Airbnb become familiar with hosting responsibilities, and to provide a general overview of different laws, regulations, and best practices that may affect hosts. You’re required to follow our guidelines, like our Hosting Standards, and to make sure that you follow the laws and other rules that apply to your specific circumstances and locale.
We recommend that you do your own research as this article isn’t comprehensive, and doesn’t constitute legal or tax advice. Also, as we don’t update this article in real time, please check each source and make sure that the information provided hasn’t recently changed.
Table of contents
Cleanliness and hygiene
The following resources contain government guidance on cleaning and safety guidelines for hosts. These resources include information on how to conduct risk assessments, clean and sanitize your space, remove waste safely, and maintain quality control.
It's important for you to familiarize yourself with local government guidelines and industry standards on cleanliness and hygiene in the UK. Information may vary depending on where in the UK your property is located (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland).
Tourism organizations across the UK have partnered on a new cleaning standard to help you understand new guidelines on cleaning and safety. You can sign up to VisitBritain’s national cleaning standard ‘We’re Good To Go’ on the dedicated website.
You can also find guidance for the self-catering and short-term letting sector on the UK Short Term Accommodation Association. If you operate another form of accommodation, please refer to guidance created by UK Hospitality.
General resources for hosts and guests on coronavirus updates, government initiatives, and refunds can be found in Airbnb’s Resource Centre.
Please make sure to check the latest public health information, as plans for the lifting of restrictions are subject to change. When lockdowns are in place, hosts must only provide accommodation in specific circumstances. If these rules are breached, you and your guests may face fines and criminal proceedings.
Rules will vary depending on where your listing is located and where your guests are traveling from. You can find out more about live restrictions in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on your government’s website.
In England, self-contained holiday accommodation may open no earlier than 12th April 2021. Other holiday accommodation, including hotels and B&B's, may open no earlier than 17th May 2021. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have announced separate plans for the gradual lifting of restrictions. Please check with your guests about legal limits on group sizes and household mixing before booking. The earliest date that all restrictions will be lifted is 21st June 2021.
Please be aware that across the UK, international travel corridors are currently suspended and travel for holiday or leisure purposes is prohibited by law. Anyone entering or returning to the UK from abroad must follow government rules, including the legal duty to self-isolate. This may take place in a quarantine hotel if entering England or Scotland from 'red list' travel ban countries. Please continue to check the FCDO website for guidance.
You can support the NHS Test and Trace by displaying an official NHS QR code poster in your listing, and keeping records of staff and visitors for 21 days. You can find more information on the requirements for visitor economy settings on the NHS Test and Trace website, and more detail on how to keep records in the NHS Test and Trace guidance.
Support and reliefs
There are various relief programmes that have been introduced by government’s across the UK to support that may be able to help you. The following resources can be used as a starting point for your own research.
- Grants and tax relief for small businesses, and businesses in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors
- Income support for self-employed individuals
- Pausing rent or mortgage payments
Find out more about COVID-19 safety from government and public health bodies:
- COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): general guidance
- COVID-19: exceptional travel advice
Tax is a complex topic. Your own tax obligations will vary based on your particular circumstances, so we recommend that you research your obligations or consult a tax professional to get more specific information.
In general, the money you earn as a host on Airbnb is considered taxable income that may be subject to different taxes like income tax, business rates, corporation tax or VAT.
Tax forms for the United Kingdom are due by 31 January each tax year. Check with HM Revenue & Customs to find out if you need to declare the amount you earn from hosting, which you can find in your host earnings summary. It’s also a good idea to find out if you’re eligible for other credits like tax reliefs and allowances.
The UK government increased the tax-free threshold for the Rent-a-Room relief in April 2016. The Rent-a-Room Scheme allows you to earn up to £7,500 tax free from sharing space in your primary residence. The threshold is halved if you share the income with your partner or someone else.
Rules that apply to rental income still apply whenever you rent out a property other than your primary residence.
UK hosts on Airbnb can receive a £1,000 tax free allowance on income earned from your property. You cannot claim both the £1,000 tax free allowance and Rent-a-Room relief on the same income. It’s a good idea to check with a qualified advisor or the UK government about your specific situation as circumstances vary.
If you host a property in England, Scotland, or Wales that’s available to let for 140 days or more per year, the government deems it a self-catering property that’s subject to business rates. Rates will be based on the property type, size, location, and how many guests are able to stay in your listing. You may also be liable for business rates if you run a guest house or a bed-and-breakfast for more than six people at any one time.
Business rates are currently paused until June 2021. For the remaining nine months of the year, the discount will be two-thirds, up to a value of £2,000,000 for closed businesses, with a lower cap for those who have been able to stay open.
You must register for VAT if your VAT taxable turnover goes over £85,000 or you know that it will. Check the UK Government’s VAT registration page for more information on VAT thresholds.
The UK government has allowed VAT registered businesses to apply for a deferral of VAT payments until 31st March 2021, or a temporary 5% reduced rate of VAT for tourism and hospitality until 30th September 2021. A new reduced 12.5% rate will then apply until 31st March 2022.
The UK standard rate of VAT is 20%. Please note, the temporary introduction of reduced VAT rates only applies to hospitality, hotel, holiday accommodation and admission to events. As Airbnb provides digital services to its users which attract the standard rate of VAT, Airbnb's services do not fall within these categories of service so VAT is still charged at 20%.
Free tax guide
We want to make it easy for you to understand your tax responsibilities as a host on Airbnb, so we’ve partnered with an independent third-party accounting firm to provide you with a free tax guide that covers general tax information in the United Kingdom. You can also find out more on our UK Tax Hub.
City and regional regulations
Some cities in the United Kingdom have specific rules. While the rules in this section are not exhaustive, it contains some known rules that might be helpful to you.
Greater London has a planning restriction that affects short-term rentals. In most cases, it’s considered a “change of use” to use your residential premises as temporary sleeping accommodation.
The Deregulation Act of 2015 introduced an exception that allows you to use residential premises for temporary sleeping accommodation without being considered a “change of use” if you use the property as a short-term rental for 90 or fewer nights in a calendar year, which is known as the “90 night rule”. Check with you local planning authorities to make sure that you’re allowed to host short-term rentals in your area, as some locations have exceptions to the 90 night rule.
If you use your property for short-term rentals for more than 90 days in a calendar year, the exception doesn't apply.
We automatically limit entire home listings in Greater London to 90 nights a year, unless you have planning permission to host more frequently.
In February 2019, Edinburgh City Council published guidance about when planning permission is required Guidance For Business. The guidance explains when you might need to apply for planning permission for a change of use from residential premises to short term commercial visitor accommodation. Contact your local authority if you have any questions.
In February 2017, Glasgow City Council released supplementary planning guidance which addresses short-term accommodation City Development Plan: SG10 Meeting Housing Needs. The guidance explains when you might need a planning application. Contact your local authority if you have any questions.
The Tourism (Northern Ireland) Order 1992 prohibits anyone from providing or offering to provide tourist accommodation as a business (that is, overnight sleeping accommodation for tourists provided by way of a trade or business) unless there is a valid certificate issued by Tourism NI in force in respect of the premises. These regulations apply to all tourist accommodation categories.
You will need to consider whether your property falls into any of the regulated accommodation categories, and take appropriate action.
Isle of Man
If you want to host on the Isle of Man, you are required to register with the Department for Enterprise before listing your space. Once you have registered, you will be authorised to host for up to 12 months (up to the end of the registration year - currently 12 February). It is an offence not to register. Get more information on how to register.
You need to obtain a permit from the Guernsey Government in order to provide paid visitor accommodation. If you have the required permit, you’ll also need to observe statutory restrictions and other restrictions.
Jersey has rules that apply to use of housing.
In 2017, Blackpool Council released a Supplementary Planning Document that set out specific Holiday Accommodation Areas (HAAs) where restrictions on change of use apply. Further information can be found here. Contact your local authority if you have any questions.
General regulations and permissions
It’s important to make sure you’re allowed to host guests in your property; your ability to host may be restricted by contracts, laws, and community rules. Check with a lawyer or local authority to learn more about regulations, restrictions, and obligations specific to your circumstances.
You can use the general info in this article as a starting point to learn about hosting regulations and permissions.
Contractual agreements and permits
Sometimes leases, contracts, building regulations, and community rules have restrictions on subletting or hosting. Review any contracts you’ve signed and contact whoever is responsible for your building and property (for example, your landlord, community council, or building manager) to understand what rules might affect your ability to host.
If everyone agrees, you might be able to amend agreements that restrict your ability to host
If your property has a mortgage (or any form of loan), check with the lender to make sure that there aren’t restrictions on subletting or hosting.
Subsidized housing restrictions
Hosting in subsidized or social housing in the UK is illegal. If you host without permission, you may be subject to fines or criminal proceedings.
If you share your home with others, consider making a formal agreement with your housemates. Housemate agreements can include how often you plan to host, guest etiquette, whether you'll share revenue, and more.
EU consumer protection law
EU consumer protection law requires businesses that act as hosts on Airbnb to provide their customers with specific information.. We have information and tools to help you decide whether you should identify as a hospitality expert and understand your responsibility to protect consumers in the EU.
We’ll take appropriate action if anyone notifies us of potential misuse. We have guidelines to help local authorities report housing misuse.
Energy Performance Certificates (EPC)
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) provides details on the energy performance of your property and what you can do to improve it. To find out more about your requirements, please go to the relevant government resource for where you host: England and Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland.
Register your property for an Energy Performance Certificate. If you are a new host, you can upload your Energy Performance Certificate when you list your space. Existing hosts can add their Energy Performance Certificate by managing their existing listings.
We care about the safety of hosts and their guests. You can improve your guests’ peace of mind by providing a few simple preparations like emergency instructions and noting any potential hazards.
Emergency contact information
Include a contact list with the following phone numbers:
- Local emergency numbers
- The number for the nearest hospital
- Your contact number
- A number for a backup contact (in case guests can’t reach you)
It’s also a good idea to make sure guests know the best way to contact you in case of an emergency. You can also communicate with guests using messages on Airbnb as a safe alternative.
Keep a first aid kit and tell your guests where it is. Check it regularly so you can restock supplies if they run out.
If you have gas appliances, follow any applicable gas safety regulations and make sure you have a functioning carbon monoxide detector. There are different gas safety regulations depending your location:
Provide a fire extinguisher and remember to maintain it regularly. Check the British Government’s fire safety guide or our guide produced in collaboration with the National Fire Chief's Council for more information about how fire safety law applies to you as a host in the United Kingdom. The guides information about:
- Maintaining fire safety compliance
- Conducting a fire safety risk assessment
- Improving your fire safety measures
Local fire services are responsible for fire safety enforcement in the UK. In some cases, they may want to inspect your property to make sure that it is safe for your guests.
Ensure you have a clearly marked fire escape route. Post a map of the route so it’s easy for guests to see.
Here are some ways you can help prevent potential hazards:
- Inspect your home to identify any areas where guests might trip or fall
- Remove the hazards you identify or mark them clearly
- Fix any exposed wires
- Make sure your stairs are safe and have railings
- Remove or lock up any objects that may be dangerous to your guests
Some guests travel with young family members and need to understand if your home is right for them. You can use the Additional notes section of Listing details in your Airbnb account to indicate potential hazards or indicate that your home isn’t suitable for children and infants.
Working appliances, like furnaces and air conditioners, can greatly affect your guests’ comfort during their stay. There are lots of ways you can make sure your guests stay comfortable:
- Make sure your home is properly ventilated
- Provide instructions on how to safely use the heater and air conditioning
- Check that the thermostat is working correctly and make sure that guests know where to find it
- Service the appliances regularly
As a host, you have a duty to assess health risks and consider Health and Safety Executive guidance regarding exposure to or consumption of unclean water. Find out more about your responsibilities to ensure water safety at your property and the prevention of legionnaires' disease.
Establish safe occupancy limits. Your local government may have guidelines.
Part of being a responsible host is helping your guests understand best practices for interacting with your community. When you communicate local rules and customs with your guests, you’re helping to create a great experience for everyone.
If your building has common spaces or shared amenities, let guests know the rules for those places.
You can include your house rules on the Additional notes section of Listing details in your Airbnb account. Guests usually appreciate it when you share your expectations with them upfront.
It’s usually a good idea to let your neighbors know if you’re planning to host. This gives them the chance to let you know if they have any concerns or considerations.
Guests book through Airbnb for lots of reasons, including vacations and celebrations. Let your guests know how noise impacts neighbors early on for a smoother experience.
If you’re concerned about disturbances to your community, there are different ways you can help limit excessive noise:
- Implement a quiet hours policy
- Don’t allow pets
- Indicate that your listing isn’t suitable for children or infants
- Prohibit parties and additional unregistered guests
If your neighbours want to raise a concern to us directly, they can submit an issue through our Neighbour Tool.
Communicate any parking rules for your building and neighborhood to your guests. Examples of possible parking rules:
- Only park in an assigned space
- Don’t park on the west side of the street on Tuesdays and Thursdays due to street cleaning
- Street parking is only available from 7pm-7am
First, check your lease or building rules to make sure there isn’t a restriction on pets. If you allow guests to bring pets, they’ll appreciate knowing good places to exercise their pet or where they should dispose of waste. Share a backup plan, like the number of a nearby pet kennel, in case a guest's pet upsets the neighbors.
Always respect your guests' privacy. Our rules on surveillance devices clearly state what we expect from our hosts, but some locations have additional laws and regulations that you’ll need to be aware of.
If you don't allow smoking, we suggest posting signs to remind guests. If you do allow smoking, be sure to provide ashtrays in designated areas.
Work with your insurance agent or carrier to determine what kind of obligations, limits, and coverage are required for your specific circumstances.
Host Guarantee and Host Protection Insurance
Airbnb’s Host Guarantee and Airbnb’s Host Protection Insurance provide you with basic coverage for listed damages and liabilities. However, these don’t take the place of homeowners insurance, renters insurance, or adequate liability coverage. You might need to meet other insurance requirements as well.
Liability and basic coverage
Review your homeowners or renters policy with your insurance agent or carrier to make sure your listing has adequate liability coverage and property protection and that your existing policy does not restrict hosting on Airbnb.
Other hosting information
Check out our hosting FAQs to learn more about hosting on Airbnb.
Please note that Airbnb has no control over the conduct of hosts and disclaims all liability. Failure of hosts to satisfy their responsibilities may result in suspension of activity or removal from the Airbnb website. Airbnb isn’t responsible for the reliability or correctness of the information contained in any links to third party sites (including any links to legislation and regulations).