An Icelandic Airbnb Landlord Made £1.7m This Year – Where Else Can Owners Earn Such a Fortune?

Reykjavik, Iceland - Boyloso/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
Reykjavik, Iceland // Photo by Boyloso/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

by Hugh Morris, The Telegraph, October 26, 2017

The most prolific Airbnb landlord in Iceland earned £1.7million in 12 months, new figures have shown, with five individuals raking in more than £700,000 in the same period.

Figures released by the government’s tourism statisticians revealed that the 10 highest earners from renting out rooms or flats via the accommodation platform banked a total of more than 1.1billion ISK (£7.9m). Together, the 10 had 276 apartments listed.


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The owner with the most, however, boasted 47 active properties on the website, with a further 29 rooms, according to Reykjavik Grapevine. The landlord with the second most listings had 48 single rooms. Across Iceland there are more than 6,600 beds available on Airbnb, the majority in its tiny capital, Reykjvaik. The city’s population is just 122,141, while the country’s average salary is around 4.9m ISK (£35,640).

A spokesperson for Airbnb said the data was not official and therefore "inaccurate", adding that the average annual earning of an Icelandic host "sharing their space for around 60 days a year" was 1,099,000 ISK (£7,859).

The spokesperson added: "The vast majority of Airbnb hosts are regular people who share their homes - typically their greatest expense - to boost their income and support their families."

The Icelandic capital is one of a several cities to be feeling increasing pressure from the rise of holiday rentals, with critics saying the market has led to higher rents and property prices. Last June the city’s authorities moved to curb the number of residents offering properties to rent in an effort to meet the needs of the local population.

Earlier this month, Icelandic newspaper Visir reported that the city council was in discussion with the accommodation company to establish limits similar to those applied to other popular tourist cities, including Barcelona and Amsterdam.

airbnb most wanted properties

Last year, director of the Icelandic tourist board was forced to deny that downtown Reykjavik was being turned into “Disneyland by an influx of tourists.

Iceland, like its Nordic neighbours, is known to be expensive for travellers. However, the sums earned by the country's upper echelon of renters are still vast compared to other Airbnb earnings around the world.

Data from Airbnb analysts Airdna last year ranked cities according to average monthly revenue.

At a glance | How much Airbnb landlords earn around the world

It found that landlords in New York were making the most, with a monthly income of $39,434 (£29,790), which would equate to an annual salary of $473,208 (£357,353).

London landlords were second, with an annual salary of $433,380 (£327,276), while Los Angeles was third, with owners banking $418,332 (£315,913).

According to a report by Airbnb into its UK market, the average host earns £3,000 a year, renting a room out for 36 nights a year. It does, however, also say that the total earned by UK owners was £657m across 168,000 listings. 

29 reasons why Iceland is incredible

A spokesperson for Airbnb said of the data from Airdna that it, too, was not official and could not be counted as accurate. 

That landlords on Airbnb might be migrating from young professionals renting out their spare room to outfits operating dozens of properties is no surprise.

In April Taleb Rifai, then head of the UN's tourism organisation, told Telegraph Travel: "[Airbnb] is not sharing any more. It’s much more than that. It’s a service and it’s a business."

He spoke of a woman in Paris who had told an industry meeting last year that she was a widow trying to supplement her income by renting out a spare room and that restrictive legislation would be hugely detrimental, only to find out the next day the same woman boasted a portfolio of 56 apartments.

Airbnb said: "The Airbnb model is unique and empowers regular people, boosts local communities and is subject to local tax. It also makes Airbnb fundamentally different to companies that take large sums of money out of the places they do business."


This article was written by Hugh Morris from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].

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