First timer! How to open an Airbnb in the UK (from abroad)

Hello all! First timer here. I have no idea where to begin or how to go about things so I just decided to state what my position is and see if anyone has any nuggets of wisdom to help me start off!

I am from the UK (Scotland) and currently live Dubai, U.A.E. I lost my mother almost two years back and basically have inheritance (not much but enough to buy a basic property).

After talking ot a few people I feel it would be a great idea to open a Airbnb back home and have it rented out to make a bit of money on the side and have a place to go when I visit Scotland.

Basically, my problem is that its hard for me to go home for an extended period of time to looks at properties, set-up an apartment, sort locks and so on and so fourth.

Are there agencies that can help me do this?

How could I manage the property from abroad?

How feasible is it to do something like this?

Honestly I dont know what else to say so just spit-balling details of my situation.

Any information or guidance would be great!



First thing… what are the rules?

As @Debthecat sez, the first thing to do is zero in on WHERE you want this property, and what local council regulations are about short term renting.

Scotland is a BIG place! Which City, Town or Village are you thinking of? Why?

Fort William has a lot of hiking/walking tourism. Edinburgh has HUGE tourism trade and the Festival and Tattoo draw people from all over the world. Glasgow has its own share of tourism. Etc. So WHERE is the first thing you need to have firmly in mind.

If you cannot take time to go pick out a property, and you have no friend/family member there to look for you, I would honestly give up the idea. To do it RIGHT, not just slipshod, running an Airbnb when you don’t live in the structure is enough work as it is, and adding 4000 miles of emotional and physical separation is going to compound everything!!! Airbnb is not the get rich scheme many people seem to think it is.

It would be far too easy for an unscrupulous real estate agent to take advantage of you. We’re talking thousands of pounds here! You could find an agent and explain what you want, and have them send you photos of prospective properties. But I wouldn’t spend a penny without having “my boots on the ground” as they say.

Once you own a property you will need a Scottish Manager, basically.

  • Someone who will basically run the entire business, since you won’t be there.
  • Someone who will work for a salary or a percentage of the booking fees.
  • Someone who lives within a 15 minute drive of your property, who can:
    handle bookings, meet & greet guests as they arrive, find someone to do the
    cleaning between guests; find and contract for the inevitable maintenance
    which will need doing (plumbing, heating, electrical, yard work, etc.)

Then you need to research the appropriate local authority regulations first. Many of the major cities in Scotland are looking to curb STR, the recent changes in Glasgow have left hundreds of hosts (who have a common entrance to their property) in a precarious position, should a neighbour complain. Edinburgh is (has?) adopting regulations to Glasgow I believe, so go and do your research before committing funds.

Do not believe what STR agencies tell you, find out yourself.


Leave the money in the bank, you are not even in a situation to go look right now. You need to be involved in the purchase of a property. It will be cheaper just to vacation in a hotel than the expense of owning a home you have barely seen, managing guests from afar and possibly being regulated out of business as a remote host.


Hello, Ian, welcome to the forum!
What you want to do has been done by thousands of people. But they aren’t AirBnB’s, they are “Holiday Lets” or “vacation rentals”. Lots and lots of people buy second homes in other areas and let them out, including my DH and me. The key is to buy a property that is currently being rented out for short-term lets. Here’s how we did it:

We decided we wanted to retire in St Lucia, a place we vacationed frequently. But we weren’t retired yet, and only vacation there a few weeks a year, so we knew we were going to rent it out when we didn’t need it. We contacted a local realtor where we wanted to buy, and told him what we wanted. Asked him to provide us a list of properties that met our requirements, and to include the rental history of each one of them.

Armed with the list, we reviewed their on-line descriptions and narrowed the list down. Scheduled showings during a trip to St Lucia (you will want to go to pick it out). Picked a property and made and offer which included all the furnishings which was accepted. We retained the caretakers that were already working for the prior owner.

The realtor offered to be our property manager, which we declined. The lady that was working as the housekeeper was willing and able to fill the role of managing the care of the property, and I take care of advertising and booking of guests.
You may want to have one.

Oh, yes, also make a business plan and a budget before you invest. Be sure you can afford the property if it sits empty for a good part of the time.

You’ll probably pay more for buying an existing business, but you won’t have to invest as much time up-front to get it up and running, and the risk should be lower since it’s already operating.

Good luck!

Edited to add - pay attention to the what the others have said about regulations. That’s a huge risk - even more reason to be sure you can afford it if it doesn’t rent out much. You might be able to convert it to a long-term rental if short-term isn’t available, so keep that in mind as a risk when you make your business plan.

I’m a host in Scotland. I agree with the consensus; while there are agents that would do the search and hard work for you, it will cost and you will lose control over aspects of the property or investment. I’d encourage you to research where you would like a second home/STR and check listing sites to see what is available within your budget.

There are areas that are saturated for STRs already. I suspect it’s pushing up prices and, as @JohnF notes, making the STR market a very sensitive topic in local areas (particularly Edinburgh, Glasgow and tourist hot spots).

Nationally there are legislative and regulatory changes afoot in Scotland regarding STRs. There will be provision in planning within 2 years’ for local authorities’ (councils) to designate areas of control for change of use to STRs. The law already controls uses - which Edinburgh and Glasgow are clamping down on just now through planning controls, where there are communal entrances or areas. The Scottish Government also consulted earlier this year on regulatory control under housing law for STRs. These regulations have not yet been set but would likely mean a licensing regime of some sort; you’d be in competition for licenses with all other hosts/landlords in that area.

These are some of the factors I’d encourage you to consider first before going ahead. It will still be possible to do it and make the investment work but it will need a lot of research and guidance, particularly if you cannot be there.