Airbnb has provided landlords and homeowners alike with the opportunity to make an income from connecting directly with guests looking for a comfortable location to stay in South Africa.

There are important home insurance considerations that hosts need to take into account before embarking on a rental agreement. It’s an exciting prospect to make money off your primary and most likely, largest asset, but there are several things to take into account before letting your property via Airbnb.

Here are 4 factors to consider:

If something goes missing, Airbnb isn’t liable

Airbnb provides protection to its hosts by covering “up to $1 000 000 for damages to covered property. This is in the rare event of guest damages above the security deposit or if no security deposit is in place”.  This essentially means that if a guest slips and falls in your house and wants to sue you, Airbnb has a mechanism in place for that. It also means if they burn the gazebo in the garden down, you’re covered.

The Host Guarantee Programme does not replace your homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance. There is a misconception that Airbnb will pay out should any household contents go missing. According to the site, “The Host Guarantee Programme doesn’t cover cash and securities, collectibles, rare artwork, jewellery, pets, or personal liability. We recommend that hosts secure or remove valuables when renting their place. Not all insurance will cover damage or loss to property caused by a guest renting your space.”

This means that if you don’t currently have home insurance or household contents insurance in place, it is highly advisable to do so before you open your doors to potential guests.

Inform your insurer

Wilkins says that full disclosure to your insurance provider is always the best policy. “There is always a risk involved with renting your home to people you essentially don’t know, and it’s this risk that makes it even more important to let your insurer know about the rental agreement.” In the unfortunate event that you’re needing to claim, it’s always better that your insurer is aware of the rental.

Understand what is and isn’t covered

Depending on your policy, ‘business pursuits’ on your private property may be excluded from your cover. It is highly advisable to contact your insurance provider to find out how renting a room in your house, via Airbnb, may affect your risk profile, and as a result, your premiums.

In some cases, homeowner’s insurance policies require visible signs of forced entry before a claim of theft is paid out. To help combat this, he suggests having a written and signed agreement with the Airbnb guest. The agreement will indicate that they will be held liable for any stolen or damaged items if there are no signs of forced entry.

Business or pleasure?

If you choose to use Airbnb on a continuous basis, to earn a more fruitful income than a long-term rental, your insurer may regard this as a business. In such cases, you will be advised to take out business insurance, as home insurance policies do not cover business pursuits operated at home.

Recently the City of Cape Town announced making it easier for homeowners to rent out their properties via Airbnb. The proposal allows for short-term letting of a house or flat for a period not exceeding 30 consecutive days for the same guest. Should your rental agreement be longer term, then it becomes even more important to get the proper advice on the appropriate insurance coverage required to cover all eventualities.

It’s critical to understand all the ins and outs of renting your property out for any period of time – be it a couple of days or a couple of months.

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