Don’t rent my house through Airbnb and don’t arrive in a Uber car

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I have decided to rent out the house in Spain when it is not in use by friends and family: it would be nice to see a small tiddler size cheque or two swimming bravely upstream against the flow of utility bills and taxes consequent upon being lucky enough to own property.

I do not believe that the results will entitle me to proclaim myself a ‘rentier’….for that I would need to be profiting from the sort of U.K. government tax hand outs to ‘buy to let’ landlords that are not classed as benefits  in that they are much more lucrative than the pittances begrudgingly paid out to those in genuine need of help….but it will give me the opportunity to get to grips with the Spanish tax codes to occupy my mind now that the Great British Bake Off has finished.

I enjoyed the French tax codes…who would have thought that investing in racehorses would give rise to tax deductions…and Costa Rica’s lot is equally fascinating: currently the tax on incorporated associations has been in abeyance since the Constitutional Court sniffed at the procedure used to pass the legislation and as the National Assembly cannot manage to run a whelk stall let alone a country there the matter lies still.

I will – with much use of bad language – put up a Facebook page for the house.

I will use word of mouth via friends and family.

I will list the house with a niche rental company – one that deals with the area and which puts clients directly in touch with me.

I will not be using Airbnb.

Or, come to that, Owners Direct.

Or Tripadvisor….

Why not? They are the major players….their ads come up top of the list on Google when you are thinking of booking a house for your holidays….they would give me much more publicity.

Indeed they would…but at a price both to me and to the potential client.

These sites are platforms which suck blood from both client and owner: they take commission from both sides and increasingly cut down the contact between both parties.

Airbnb, in particular, regard the property owners signed up with them as sheep to the slaughter.

You, as a client, are delighted that you can cancel at the last minute if something goes awry at home: the rental owner is not…how to fill a vacancy at the last minute for a period where he may have turned down other potential bookings?

Or the client has booked for a week and  decides to move on after two days – not from any fault with the property but just because the spirit so moves him. According to Airbnb who are trialing this, the owner must refund the five outstanding days –   with no chance of another booking to fill the gap.

I used to rent out holiday houses in France years ago: I paid for an advertisement in a niche agency and the clients contacted me directly. They knew exactly what was on offer and I knew exactly what they were seeking: the contract was between ourselves.

It was, on the whole, great fun – with a few notable exceptions – and we are still in contact with a number of people who came as clients and left as friends, but that depended on the personal link between us, all trying to make the much anticipated holiday as good as it could be.

These booking platforms are doing their best to rupture that link: to them, the property is an item upon which to make money from both ends…they have not the slightest interest in making the holiday a success.

Booking platforms seem to be the new thing: you want a cleaner? You ring a platform and some poor sod arrives, whose payment depends on how much the platform milches you for and how much it takes for itself.

Some of these platforms even have their desperate non employees bidding each other down for work…

Non employees: no job security…no sick pay, no holiday pay…provide your own materials…

What sort of society have we become to tolerate this?

Uber is a prime example of the exploitative platform.

In Costa Rica they proclaim that they do not provide transportation services…in order to evade the law which regulates said services. Explain to me how contacting a platform to obtain a taxi is not transportation services.

Car owners sign up with them…all is hunky dory.

As it will be until Uber have enough of a presence in the market to reduce the rates paid by the clients and increase the commission paid to Uber by the drivers – as they have done elsewhere.

Drivers who have to maintain their cars at their own expense….

Please, avoid the platforms.

Make contact with real people.