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Airbnb insurance warning to Northern Ireland landlords

By Claire McNeilly

Published 30/07/2015

Airbnb - a website for people to rent out lodgings - is popular with people looking for a cheap holiday
Airbnb - a website for people to rent out lodgings - is popular with people looking for a cheap holiday

Hundreds of Northern Ireland homeowners who rent out their properties on letting sites have been warned they risk a hefty bill if they don't have the correct insurance.

Airbnb - a website for people to rent out lodgings - is popular with people looking for a cheap holiday.

It also seems like an easy way to make some extra cash because all you have to do is take some photographs of your house, post them online and watch the guests roll in.

The Belfast Telegraph used Airbnb to investigate accommodation offers in Belfast and found 144 rentals available from July 24 to July 27 for two people.

Prices ranged from £24 a night for a room to £100 for an entire flat, and averaged around £63.

You could, for example, rent out a one bedroom apartment in Saint Anne's Square in the Cathedral Quarter of Belfast for £336 that weekend, or a one bedroom flat for £269 in the Titanic Quarter.

However, insurance companies are warning homeowners of the dangers of renting to strangers on home letting sites.

It follows a recent case in Calgary where a Canadian couple's house was trashed when they let it out.

Mark and Star King used Airbnb to find tenants for their property while they were on holiday.

They rented it out to a responsible-looking man who claimed it was for four adults attending a wedding in the town.

But when they returned home they discovered it had been used to host a two-day party with hundreds of guests who wrecked the property, causing £40,000-worth of damage in what police described as a "drug-induced orgy".

Mrs King told the Calgary Herald that she didn't want to return to the house with her two young children.

"Everything imaginable that would violate a home has happened here," she said. "We don't want to touch anything. We don't want to sleep in these beds again. We can't walk on these carpets in bare feet ever again."

Fortunately the couple's insurance company paid out, but others may not be so lucky.

Do you wish to rent out a property? Reach thousands of potential tenants with a listing on propertynews.com

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