Here’s the hassle-free way to make money on your property, whether you own it or not, with Dubai host-management company Airdxb
Airdxb is opening doors to facilitate short-term property rentals in the UAE
Paperwork. It’s at once the most inevitable and most exasperating necessity when it comes to getting things done, especially when it comes to housing matters. From title deeds, memorandums of understanding and rental contracts, to cancelled or activated electricity, chiller and maintenance bills, there are untold numbers of boxes to tick, documents to sign, and contracts to update and uphold.
Registering your UAE property on Airbnb is no different. It requires hard-copy proof of your identification, location and amenities, and entails a comprehensive licensing procedure. Or it did, until Airdxb came along to do all the work for you.
“Renting out apartments to tourists on a short-term basis has been legal in Dubai since 2016,” says Airdxb’s director and founder Gregory Lewis. “Airbnb is a popular service, [but] each property needs to be licensed with Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing under holiday home rental. We have that licence through which we can sort out the procedure on behalf of home owners and then go on to list their property with Airbnb,” he says.
Once a home is eligible to be registered on Airbnb, there are three main aspects that hosts need to consider: increasing the appeal of the property, co-ordinating with guests and providing post-care services. Here, too, Airdxb steps in. To start with, the team photographs your space and comes up with a suitably appealing description of the living conditions.
Next, they take on all aspects of guest co-ordination. “Airbnb is very stringent about its guests, and we follow up by double-checking their passports and other IDs for security measures. Each guest – and host – gets a star rating on Airbnb, so we avoid those who have negative reviews and low ratings,” says Lewis, adding: “Once a host and guest have ‘matched’, we meet the visitors at the property, check them in and show them how things work. We also run through the inventory, and get them to sign a document stating the existence and condition of the furniture and so on, so should anything break or go missing, we have the requisite paperwork and before-and-after images. These can then be submitted to Airbnb, who will review the case and take it out from the person’s deposit. I think they provide up to US$1 million in insurance per property, although we recommend our hosts take full insurance cover for their contents, too.”
And finally, once your guests have left, Airdxb takes full responsibility for collecting the keys as well as organising a deep cleaning service, to prepare the house for the next guests or returning hosts. “From personal experience, I once registered my own property by myself on Airbnb a few years ago when I was travelling. Due to some miscommunication, the cleaning crew didn’t show up once one set of guests left, and a second lot arrived at 3am the following morning to a house that was obviously not in good order. This can affect a host’s rating on the site, and a lower rating will attract fewer guests,” says Lewis. “With Airdxb, we follow everything up to a tee, to try and ensure hosts and their homes get a five-star rating and, consequently, more guests,”
So how much can home owners expect to earn? “First, let me tell you that tenants can also avail themselves of this service,” says Lewis. “Even if you are renting a place, and are travelling or otherwise not using it for some time, you can sub-lease the apartment or villa and earn money off it. All you need is a consent form, signed by the owner or landlord.
“The price a place can be listed for typically comes down to its location and amenities, such as being close to a beach or a mall, or offering a beach club on site. It also depends on how many it sleeps, so a two-bedroom home that sleeps six thanks to a sofa-bed in the living room will be worth more than one that can accommodate four guests,” says Lewis.
He shares the price points for three properties that Airdxb has handled: a studio on the Palm, which claimed Dh400 per night; a two-bedroom apartment in JBR that went for Dh800; and a three-bedroom on the Palm that commanded Dh1,140. A quick glance at Airdxb’s Instagram page also reveals that a couple who went to Africa for three weeks made Dh24,000, while a family that went away for the summer for three months earned Dh45,000 on their properties through Airdxb-Airbnb. These prices are not inclusive of cleaning charges, which depend on the size of the property; a single cleaning session for the 2BHK in JBR costs Dh250, for example.
“From a guest’s point of view, we try to be as flexible as possible. For example, some may want the space to be cleaned only once they’ve left, while others want daily housekeeping. Likewise, some may one a bed-turndown service each day, while others want a longer service. It’s all possible,” says Lewis, adding that Airdxb is looking to expand to other emirates in the near future.
British financier Adam Green, who owns the aforementioned 2BHK JBR property, says of his experience with Airdxb: “I travel quite a bit and I had looked at Airbnb a few years ago, but I found the set-up process quite complicated, and couldn’t be bothered, to be honest. Then I came across Airdxb, and realised it takes cares of everything for you, from start to finish, including photography, cleaning and maintenance. Plus it means an extra revenue stream, so I was happy to give it a go.
“I did have some concerns, mainly how to deal with having strangers in my home. But they’re not strangers, really, as Gregory explained; the guests have ratings from other landlords who are letting out their spaces in a similar way. So that gave me a degree of confidence and so far, I’m over the moon with the service. It’s fully bespoke, money is sent to me on a regular basis, my stuff is accounted for thanks to their before-and-after inventory list, and I know it will be cleaned before I return. I may not have been so confident if I were to do it on my own.”
In terms of the types of accommodation currently on offer in Dubai, Lewis says he has observed that most hosts here want to offer a luxurious experience, even decking out their homes with high-end furniture and other five-star amenities. “A client of ours has a home in the Burj Khalifa, but he was worried that the furniture was not up to the mark. I told him that it doesn’t always matter. He has a property in the tallest building in the world, and that’s what will attract visitors to live there, that’s how it needs to be marketed.
“Most tourists end up using Airbnb homes mainly to sleep in; they are out and about for up to 15 hours a day, anyway So, luxury accommodations are but one of three options guests seek,” he says. “Consider another example, I have some friends who want to come to Dubai for the Rugby Sevens. For them, they need a place to sleep and shower, and they found one that cost them Dh400 a night on a sharing basis, as opposed to paying Dh2,000 for a hotel. So the second type of home that does well is a basic space that is nevertheless clean and tidy. It may go for Dh200 less per night, but it is likely to be booked, say, 25 times a month instead of 12.”
Lewis’s third accommodation type, and a personal favourite, is a home that’s either themed or offers a one-off experience. “My dream for Dubai and Airdxb is to feature homes that offer something utterly unique, Instagram-worthy spaces that have a wow factor. For example, I saw a Double Decker bus converted into a living space in Nairobi, and have lived in an actual airplane parked in a hanger, spray-painted all through by an artist,” says Lewis.
This is much in keeping with a list that Airbnb recently released, of 10 of its most sought-after homes around the world. What stands out is that each of the properties is distinctive and offers a living experience unique to a particular part of the world – such as a bamboo cottage located in middle of a rice field in Bali, and a house carved into the caldera cliff in Santorini.
“Think of us as the middleman between host and guest, using Airbnb as the matching platform. If you have a home that’s either uber-luxurious, spic and span, and/or unusual in some way, and you’re open to accommodating short-term guests, you can earn back between 40 and 60 per cent of the rental value of your space,” says Lewis.