“Why would anyone want to stay here?” This is the question asked by many puzzled neighbours living on a sleepy residential street in Stockport when they discovered that the newest addition joining the road was not a family or couple, but an Airbnb.
Landlord Daniel Bellamy surprised himself too. He wasn’t sure who would want to stay in the area but when he put his stylish property onto the online marketplace for homestays back in April, he received his first booking within just two hours.
It has become a booming business for himself and partner Hannah Harris, who say they aim to bring a boutique hotel experience for guests. Dan purchased the two-bedroom terraced house in Heaton Norris two years ago as a buy-to-let.
He completely renovated the home with a stylish makeover and rented it out for £825 a month. When the tenant came to the end of their agreement and went on to purchase their own home, Dan – who founded Wythenshawe-based multimillion-pound company, Easi-drive, with his brother 20 years ago – saw it as the perfect opportunity to start a new venture.
In his thirties, it had been a dream of his to open his own boutique hotel, and now at the age of 45, he has been able to make that a reality in his own way. “We want to bring a King Street Townhouse Hotel experience to our Airbnb guests,” he says.
“For me, it can give me the gratitude that I want from a boutique hotel experience. There’s the fragrance behind the door; freshly baked cookies on arrival.
“We’ll give leave a bottle of Prosecco or a few beers in the fridge if they’re staying longer than a few nights.” The businessman adds: “I did think at first ‘who is going to want to stay’? Weirdly, bookings came in instantly.”
It’s become so successful that the couple is aiming to gradually convert their other buy-to-lets into Airbnbs, with a larger property in Bramhall soon ready to join the platform in a few weeks. Three more in Stockport will be up and running within the next six months.
So who is staying at the property? They say guests, who they essentially vet by ensuring they have a verified Airbnb ID and find out their purpose of staying, have included people visiting family in Stockport, a few have stayed whilst building work was taking place in their own homes nearby, while some have stayed when visiting for funerals.
Others came for the Harry Styles gigs at Emirates Old Trafford; for Manchester United and Manchester City tours; and a group of women celebrated a 21st birthday. Some others have booked in to visit Manchester in general, and they have a solo traveller from Canada visiting for a longer period next month to explore the area.
Dan says half of the guests had dogs, as they allow pets, while 25 per cent had children with them – which if in a hotel, could see them having to book two separate rooms. From 22 reviews, ‘Heaton House’ has a score of 4.95 out of 5 stars.
Alongside his desire to create a unique stay, Dan, who is from Stockport and has lived in Heaton Moor for the past 20 years, argues it was a no-brainer in terms of monetary gain too. “The government has made it a lot harder for people who have buy-to-lets to make it justifiable,” he argues.
“There are more household checks that need to be done, changes to mortgage interest tax relief, having to pay council tax when it’s empty in between tenants. The only money you’re really making now on buy-to-lets is the appreciation on a property.”
He had seen his friend who transformed their Wythenshawe buy-to-let into an Airbnb make a success of it, and now he can see for himself why landlords do it, as he earns “considerably more” than he was when renting out the property as a long-term let.
Dan and Hannah say the occupancy rate in the last 30 days has been at 95 per cent. Next month, the property is only vacant four days out of the whole month – so at £89 per night, rising to £119 at weekends, that’s a gross income of more than £2,700 for July.
“There is more work involved but I am enjoying it,” Dan says. They’re looking to hire a cleaner to clean the property in between guests, which they are currently doing themselves, and when they put an advert on Facebook Marketplace, they had 30 messages of interest in 24 hours.
“We’ll be giving someone a job out of this,” he says, “feeding back into the area. He later adds: “Stockport is really transforming.”
Dan feels some Airbnbs in parts of Manchester have gained a bad reputation over noise complaints and parties. But he says his guests have to adhere to house rules, he has security cameras so he can monitor people coming and going, and has recently purchased a noise level alert system.
He also sings Airbnb’s praises for their support and their immediate responses with their 24-hour online chat. According to Inside Airbnb – a project that provides data and advocacy about Airbnb’s impact on residential communities – Stockport currently has 194 Airbnb properties.
Out of this figure, 115 (59.3pc) are entire home/apartments and 78 (40.2pc) are private rooms. Dan reckons he has seen a rise of 20 per cent more listings in recent times, which he has come across when checking out his competition on a weekly basis.
According to Stockport City Council, 194 Airbnb properties represent about 0.12 per cent of the total housing stock in the borough. On what Dan thinks of concerns raised about their potential prevalence of taking over the rental market and driving out longer-term lets, he says: “I never used Airbnb until now, I didn’t understand it well enough before I started.
“It’s bringing entrepreneurship to the right people. There probably is a percentage of people sticking their house on Airbnb to see what they get, but the standard is definitely getting higher because more people are doing it, so what will happen eventually, is that people who just wanted a bit more money will think it’s too hard and won’t bother.
“Airbnb has grown massively, but I’ve also seen the standard go up. Landlords will try and give it a go but will have to up their game or just carry on with buy-to-lets. The less popular houses will drop off.”
On the opposite side of the street to the Airbnb lives Alexandra Fenwick, 36. She was one of the puzzled neighbours who didn’t understand why people would come and stay on her road.
She sees the benefit though for neighbours having a space for friends and family to stay when they visit, however in the current climate of soaring costs and shortages of housing, Alexandra isn’t fully convinced.
“Recently I got married and it would have been handy to offer it to guests coming from afar,” she says. “However, it doesn’t quite sit right; the idea of a house being empty when there is a housing crisis and people need homes.
“Maybe if Stockport earned most of its income through tourism it would make sense. But it doesn’t, and I think we need the housing more.”
Right next door is Karl Elphick, who has rented the property with his girlfriend for three years, and hopes his landlord doesn’t decide to do the same. He says he had no idea next door was an Airbnb and hadn’t been informed of the change.
“I don’t know why anyone would want to stay here,” Karl queries. “I kept noticing a wide variety of people coming and going and thought it was odd.”
He continues: “I suppose I’d rather have a permanent neighbour next door, you get to know people then. I saw someone the other day and thought ‘oh you must be the new tenant,’ and she looked at me like ‘why are you saying hello to me?’ Of course, you’re going to say hi to your neighbour.”
Karl adds: “We keep ourselves to ourselves though and as long as it’s not causing noise… there have been no issues.”
On the other side is Jade Carr, who has two young children and says she’s “thrilled” for Dan. “He set it up and I wasn’t expecting to see anyone because it’s Stockport; I’m surprised anyone would want to stay here, but he’s had people in constantly.
“It seems like it’s been a really good idea and I know he was only doing it as a tester and he’s thrilled to bits. I wish I could do it.
“Even though there have been loads of people coming and going it has been quite nice. There has only been one set that has been noisy. But I chat to everyone, everyone’s been lovely, and I’m a nosey cow; it doesn’t bother me having different people turn up.”
She is more concerned that complaints will be made by the guests, not her, adding: “We’re a dead loud family so I’m worried they’re going to hate us because they’re on holiday, but no one seems that fussed.”
Airbnb has six million active listings worldwide across 100,000 cities and towns. Unlike tourist hotspots, such as in New York – where it’s illegal to rent out a whole apartment for less than 30 days – and Spain – where landlords must have a licence – there are no plans for regulation of Airbnb in Greater Manchester. Although since 2017, short-term lets of entire home bookings on Airbnb in Greater London have been limited to 90 nights per calendar year.
Councillor Helen Foster-Grime, Stockport Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities & Housing, said: “Like many parts of the country, Stockport has a shortage of homes including affordable homes and is seeing private rent costs increasing. Airbnb plays a tiny role within the borough unlike other Greater Manchester areas.
“Regardless of home ownership, Stockport takes a dim view of anti-social behaviour affecting neighbours and encourages everyone to report concerns.” Reddish South Green Party councillor, Liz Crix, has concerns over the rise of short-term lets in her constituency.
“Heaton Norris is a place where people can live and raise families in a good community, but short term lets create a fast turnover of tenants which could diminish the sense of community,” she argues. “More houses let via Airbnb will mean fewer houses available for families and so could push up the cost of a long-term rent.
“It may mean that more houses need building to compensate for the loss in housing stock, which will increase the demand for already scarce suitable sites and threaten to encroach on green belt land (which we will oppose). If there is a trend for landlords moving to short term “holiday” lets through Airbnb rather than offering the same properties as long-term lets, it may be because they think there are financial benefits and/or fewer regulatory hurdles to jump over.
“However, we believe that properties built for homes should be used for homes.” Airbnb UK has been approached for a comment.
A Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities spokesperson said: “Good landlords have nothing to fear with these reforms. We’re taking action to combat the impact holiday lets can have on local communities, including introducing higher rates of Stamp Duty for those purchasing additional properties and tightening tax rules for second home owners.
“It is important homes are built in the places where people and communities need them, which is why we are giving the North West £715 million to deliver 14,000 affordable homes.” What do you think? Let us know in the comments.