The Best AirBnB Management Company in London
Updated: February 2019
Spoiler Alert: There is no best AirBnB management company in London. It depends on what features are most important to you:
If you want the cheapest AirBnB management company in London we recommend:
If you want the best full-service AirBnB management company in London we recommend:
The Air Agents
If you want the best AirBnB management company for Platforms we recommend
If you want the company with the most experience in London we recommend:
The table above will give you an overview of the 5 short term letting management companies in London but I’ll dig deeper so that you can find the right company that will meet your needs, whether you are more focused on
The service level
Like most people, when I started looking for an AirBnB management company, cost was the primary consideration. I searched google looking for the prices that each AirBnB management company charged. Annoyingly, most companies, wouldn’t display their prices on their website and I needed to call and endure a sales pitch from everyone. Luckily for you, you don’t have to do that!
After comparing prices, my first mistake choosing the cheapest company. I soon learned a number of reasons why you shouldn’t do this, hopefully, you can learn from my mistakes:
Management Fee - Basic or Premium
There is a large range of prices between the various AirBnB management companies in London, from 12% (GuestReady) to 17% (HostMaker and AirAgents)
HostMaker varies the amount that they charge depending on the size of the property, from 17% for a 1 bedroom to 12% for a 2+ bedrooms. If you are still in the research stages of buying a property: it might be worth buying a bigger property if your management fee is going to be lower (and revenue potentially higher as you’ll have an extra bedroom).
Basic Vs Premium
GuestReady’s 12% fee may seem cheap when compared to the other companies, but consider the fact that this 12% fee is for their basic package and doesn’t include in-person check-in and insurance. If you want a more premium service and want to compare apple to apples, they charge 20%+VAT for a Full management package.
Cleaning Cost: The important factor that you might not be considering:
Based on my experience of staying at AirBnB’s, I was initially under the impression that the guest would pay the cleaning fees.
I didn’t realize the cleaning costs guests pay is often different from what the AirBnB host charges (and this can be less than what the cleaning company charges them!)
Your cleaning expense will likely be your second highest cost after the management fee. Your management fee is something you expect to pay, the cleaning cost, however, is more like a Jehovah Witness that sneaks up on you.
For example cleaning costs for a 1 bedroom property in London range from £35 (Let’s Get Smart) to £65 (HostMaker and AirAgents). That’s almost twice as much!
If you have 15 check-ins per month. That difference of £30 from the cleaning fees results in a saving of:
£15 x £30 = £450
That’s a huge difference, more than the total management fee!
A high cleaning fee doesn’t mean the AirBnB management company is trying to ripe you off. You should try and understand why they are charging so much. You could try getting some quotes from cleaning companies that specialize in AirBnB’s in the local area to help you understand better.
Call Out Fees:
AirBnB management companies generally do not charge a fee for any guest issues that can be sorted over the phone or via text message.
If the management company needs to visit the property they will generally charge extra in addition to their regular management fee.
It’s difficult to estimate how many call outs you’ll need over the course of a year. My properties have had issues, ranging from a guest being unable to open the washing machine door to massive water leaks. Keep in mind how old your building is and when was the last time your property appliances were replaced. Often it makes sense to renovate a property before you start renting your property. Not only will it be more appealing to potential guests, your reviews will be better and callouts will likely be less.
If you look at the summary table of the AirBnB companies in London, you’ll see that most of the companies charge a similar amount of £35/hr for a call out. The first big exception is The Air Agents, who charge £80/hr for the maintenance team to come out! The other exception is Let’s Get Smart who DO NOT CHARGE ANYTHING! This is a huge advantage and should be seriously taken into account when deciding on which short term letting company to use.
fee for photographers and signing up. I don’t think these fees are anything to worry about (as long as they aren’t outrageously high!). You want to ensure that you are getting your money’s worth though, especially when it comes to your photographer.
Your photos will be the first thing that your potential guests see and it is one of the most important factors in ensuring the maximum possible revenue.
Everyone with a camera and a copy of photoshop thinks that they are a professional photographer. I had one AirBnB management company bring their own digital camera and take some snaps not too differently from David Brent here.
Ask the AirBnB management company to provide some examples of listings that their photographer has already taken.
When comparing prices, ensure your factoring in VAT (if the company is small, they might not charge VAT, but this might be a concern: do you want a small company managing your properties?)
As short-term letting sector is relatively new, many companies are growing fast. I used one company who was initially not charging VAT but as they grew, one month they randomly started including VAT which resulted in my management fees increasing by 20%
One strategy when choosing an AirBnB company is to test one of the lower cost companies initially. This is what I did with one of my properties. As I suspected, the companies service wasn’t amazing and my reviews reflected this, but my revenue was still good. I could have renovated my property as required by the more expensive company, spending an extra £15,000 but I don’t think the investment was worth the extra revenue.
One final note with cost: We all want to pay the minimum but just like anything in life, this usually comes at a sacrifice. Be careful when choosing an AirBnB management company, if you are sacrificing price for poor performance, you will likely get bad reviews and bad over the long term bad reviews will result in the death of your listing.
How can you find out? Go through the listings of the AirBnB management company, look at the reviews of the properties that they manage. Look at the average score. Take the time to read the negative reviews to understand if it was a preventable issue that may be the fault of the management company. Remember, one bad review can bring down the average massively, especially initially.
ProTip 1: Become your own mystery shopper and stay in a property from each management company, allowing you to compare the standard of each.
If you are considering buying a property and renting it on AirBnB or some other short-term rental platform, a big consideration will be if you need Interior design and renovations services.
I usually don’t live in the cities where I invest and I travel a great deal. Therefore I need a company that can manage everything, even if it’s at a higher cost. Even if you live close to the city that you want to invest in, consider the amount of time that you have to organize and deal with trades people and ensuring that you are at the property when the phone company wants to come to install the broadband connection.
I pay a management company a large amount each month but it more than pays for itself with the time and hassle that it saves.
If you are looking for a full-service company in London I would suggest The Air Agents or Let’s get Smart. They both offer Interior design and renovation services. Contact them both and ask them to view your property and to provide a quote for the work needed. Ask to see photos of other properties that they have renovated. Often companies will give you unreliable estimates for how long it will take to get a property fixed up and for you to start making money.I have found that it is best to double estimates!
Management companies will pride themselves on having a large number of platforms to list your property on. The more the merrier but keep in mind that
AirBnB is the market leader and most of your bookings will likely come from them.
Let’s compare the 5 AirBnB management companies in London for their platforms:
If your goal is to ensure that your property is maxing out its booking potential, GuestReady offers the most comprehensive list of platforms including:
HostMaker does not list on TripAdvisor or Expedia, however they do have a partnership with Marriot Hotels and will list your property on their ‘One Fine Stay’ platform. I have not used this myself so can not comment on it’s revenue potential, but we do have a review coming from a property owner who has.
Both AirSorted and Let’s Get Smart do not list on TripAvisor, however, Let’s Get Smart will list your property on Open Rent, a platform that the other companies don’t use.
One unique company to consider is Air Sorted who will list your property on any service that you request.
History, Properties Under Management and Reviews
AirBnB and Short Term renting is a very new industry with companies popping up every week to service this growing market.
Be careful not to hire a company who has little experience or commitment in managing properties. The best way to ensure that this doesn’t happen is with due diligence.
Compare how many properties eacb company has under management. Using our summary table you can see that AirSorted has the largest portfolio with over 1,300 properties. In 2nd place is HostMaker with 850 and not too far behind is The Air Agents with 700. 4th and 5th position sees a large decrease in the properties that are managed with Guest Ready having 200 and Let’ Get Smart with only 40.
Now it is short-sighted to think that just because a company has a relatively small number of properties that it’s service won’t be good. If anything their service may be better because they have less properties to juggle.
To dig deeper take a gander at their Google Reviews, which we have also conveniently listed in our summary table above.
All the companies have excellent ratings. The Air Agents have a perfect rating of 5, with Guest Ready in 2nd with a score of 4.7. The only company that doesn’t have any Google Reviews is Let’s Get Smart.
I personally wouldn’t use this as a deal breaker. Every business will at some point have zero reviews. It’s simply an opportunity to dig deeper still.
Ask the company for a sample of their listings, not only will you be able to see the quality of the photos, as mentioned previously, but it will also give you the opportunity to read reviews from guests. Make a note of the issues that guests have encountered. Some guests will be divas and their bad reviews may not be due to any fault in the management company. However, if you spot a theme from recent negative reviews it might be something to consider before committing to a company.
ProTip 2: If you have multiple properties, try and negotiate a discount on the management fee. I was able successfully negotiated my management fee down by 1% which might not seem like much but when you calculate: 1% of £1500 a month multiplied by 3 properties is £45. Over a year that’s £540, an amount that you’ll save every year! Not bad a bad investment for simply asking! Despite being able to negotiate a discount I didn’t take it initially because I valued the following tip even more:
Even though I negotiated a discount I was more interested to learn which company would provide me with the best overall returns and service. A £450 pound saving
ProTip 3: is wonderful, but I would rather find the best company for my properties. A company that is able to get more bookings at a more optimal price is worth more than a £450 saving.
I decided to use 3 different companies with the intention of comparing them with each other over the course of a year. After a year I would transfer all the properties to the top AirBnB management company and also negotiate a discount for having multiple properties with them.
HostMaker Vs AirSorted
Many people have been specifically asking about the difference between AirSorted vs HostMaker. So I thought we’d provide a WWF style smackdown between the two.
There is no clear winner in this category. If you have a 1 bedroom property, AirSorted is the cheaper AirBnB management company, charging 15%. If you have 2 or more bedrooms HostMaker costs less.
AirSorted has lower cleaning costs which give them a potential edge, but it’s too close to call a clear winner between the two (unless you have a 1 bedroom Property)
HostMaker has an edge because of its partnership with Marriot and OneFineStay giving clients a unique platform that other providers will not have. AirSorted lists on Expedia which HostMaker does not. Again, there is no clear winner in this category.
HostMaker has an average google review score of 4.5, a slight edge over AirSorted’s 4.3. However, AirSorted has more experience with 1,300 properties under management companies with HostMaker’s 850.
This competition is starting to look like sport’s day’s where the teachers declared at the end that everyone is a winner. I always hated those and I can assure you that I am not doing that, I want a clear winner as I am sure you do too but let the data speak of itself.
In conclusion: If you have a 1 bedroom property AirSorted will be your best bet. If you have 2 or more properties, I would suggest using our ProTip above of giving one property to each for a year and seeing which performs the best.