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Airbnb hosts in Canterbury, Dover and Margate criticise post-lockdown cleaning guidelines


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After the Prime Minister announced a relaxing of the two-metre rule earlier this week, B&B and hotel owners were given the green light to accept bookings again from July 4.

With hundreds of Airbnb stays listed in Kent, many hosts will be hoping to stack their bookings to make up for the financial black hole lockdown has caused over the past three months.

Tania is worried the gap between allowing guests to book could make the business impractical
Tania is worried the gap between allowing guests to book could make the business impractical

But how easy is that going to be in reality?

The US tech giant has published a lengthy set of guidelines for hosts to follow when accepting bookings, including leaving 72 hours between guests and deep cleaning every single part of the property they have come into contact with.

Tania Hoser, who rents out a penthouse in the centre of Canterbury, is struggling to see how to strike a balance in keeping guests safe and making the rental financially worthwhile.

The Airbnb superhost said: "I can't see how this would be viable for anyone.

"It's absolutely clear Airbnb need to corporately secure everyone's safety, so they're telling you either to leave 72 hours between guests, or to ensure people's safety by following a specific routine.

Tania's day job is as a director of photography in the film industry
Tania's day job is as a director of photography in the film industry

"But I can't see how you could earn, even in three days, the amount that it would cost you in time or money to follow that routine - for me that just wouldn't work."

In the guidelines set out by the company, hosts who cannot commit to the intense cleaning routine should opt-in to a 72-hour "booking buffer" where they must leave the property vacant.

Tania said: "I would be absolutely amazed if it works for anyone to do that level of cleaning between guests.

"For me those instructions are telling you not to bother and to wait 72 hours. Personally, I would leave it three days and then go in on the fourth day to clean, to protect myself too.

"My level of enthusiasm for deep cleaning does not match this in any way shape or form - I'd rather do fruit picking."

Amanda Brown's listing is just a five-minute walk from the famous white cliffs
Amanda Brown's listing is just a five-minute walk from the famous white cliffs

Other hosts are thinking up new ways of keeping their Airbnb rentals financially viable in a post-lockdown world.

Amanda Brown, 59, rents out a room in her family home in St Margaret's at Cliffe, near Dover.

Guests would regularly just book a single night on their way through to the port and beyond, but Amanda is considering allowing only longer bookings in light of the proposed cleaning guidelines.

The now-retired teacher said: "Often we have people leaving in the morning and others arriving in the same day.

"We may just do a minimum of two other three nights - if we're having to allow 72 hours between bookings we'd have to.

"We'd also have to put our prices up if we spend more time cleaning it than we already do."

Amanda used to offer breakfasts to her guests in the family dining room but due to the nature of social distancing she might not be able to do that either.

Despite the ways the lockdown has upended the tourism industry, the Airbnb superhost believes lots of people will still be interested in renting this summer.

She said: "I think that 50% will be bothered and 50% won't be, and I think those worried just won't travel in the first place."

One host in Thanet is already accepting bookings from people after July 4.

Charlotte's listing is popular with people visiting Margate in the summer
Charlotte's listing is popular with people visiting Margate in the summer

Charlotte Brennan has had Airbnb users contacting her ready to travel down to Margate for a seafront break this summer.

Her property is a short walk to the Turner Contemporary and offers a converted garage with a separate entrance for guests.

She said: "I've had two bookings already since the restrictions have changed. I even had someone trying to book here mid-April."

Responding to the new rigorous cleaning guidelines from Airbnb, Charlotte said the company has no real way of enforcing it.

She said: "It seems a bit much - I wash all the bedding and everything gets a good clean anyway.

Charlotte has already got bookings for after July 4
Charlotte has already got bookings for after July 4

"And who's going to monitor it, the Airbnb police?"

What are hosts being asked to do?

In the lengthy 38-page handbook published by Airbnb, hosts who do not want to leave 72 hours between guests are being asked to do a deep clean of the entire property.

This includes all soft surfaces such as furniture, curtains, carpets, machine washing wherever possible.

The guidelines are also clear to distinguish between cleaning and sanitising - the company says cleaning is the act of removing dust and dirt, but everything deemed a high-contact surface must then also be sanitised to limit the potential spread of the virus.

"Who's going to monitor it, the Airbnb police?"

The announcement of the guidelines on the Airbnb website reads: "Hosts who commit to following the cleaning protocol will receive a special call-out on their listing so guests know they are committed to an enhanced cleaning and sanitisation routine.

"If hosts are unable to commit to our cleaning protocol, they can also choose to opt into a new feature called booking buffer.

"This creates a longer vacancy period between stays with no activity to take place other than cleaning, which should follow recommended guidelines.

"Reservations will be automatically blocked during that time frame for 72 hours."

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