Wed 26 October 2011
Councils fail to support potential ‘Games landlords’, amid growing 2012 accommodation concerns
London councils aren’t winning any gold medals for their role in the growing 2012 accommodation crisis, as new research* reveals they are discouraging Londoners from renting their homes during the Games with confusing information, hefty fees and the threat of fines.
The research* by www.holidaylettings.co.uk™ shows a huge disparity between councils’ policies on renting private property during the Games, with conflicting council advice given over the phone and online advice difficult to access. What’s more, in some boroughs, home owners are being threatened with hefty fines for non-compliance and face steep planning permission fees as councils seek to cash in.
A recent poll of Holiday Lettings’ 587 London home owners found that only 40% are aware that some London councils are planning to prevent or charge for permission to let private properties during the Games. The poll also found that this would discourage one in five from renting their homes, with many outraged at some council policies.
“If my local council issued a ruling about lettings during the Olympics, I would challenge it” said London landlord Stephen Morris, while an anonymous landlord commented: “Why should hotels be allowed to double their rates, while some individuals who pay tax can’t gain at all? It seems unfair.”
As a result the UK’s leading holiday lets site is supporting the rights of ‘Games landlords’. The site is calling for councils to show greater understanding of the holiday lets sector, and the important role it has to play in London 2012, by encouraging private letting and making their policies and guidelines on short lets easier to access online and over the phone.
“Whether running an existing holiday let in Greater London or considering letting a primary residence for a week or two during the Games, there is currently a complete disparity from council to council on one’s rights to do so. But the bottom line is that, in light of the current 2012 accommodation shortfall, enterprising Londoners should be encouraged to let their homes, not discouraged. This is a huge opportunity for Londoners to support the Olympic effort and we must question why some councils are objecting to this,” says Kate Stinchcombe-Gillies, spokesperson for Holiday Lettings.
Where the councils stand:
• During Holiday Lettings’ first phone enquiry, Westminster Council said short term lets under 90 days were banned and planning permission difficult to obtain, but during a second call the council confirmed it’s charging £335 for short lets planning permission and a £20,000 fine for non-compliance
• Kensington & Chelsea Council stated during our first call that home owners would have to pay a £150 ‘change of use’ fee, but during the second call stated that there was no fee
• Others councils including host boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Hackney require nothing, while one Southwark Council employee said it would be “unfair to penalise home owners”
• Host councils outside Greater London e.g. Berkshire, Essex, Warwickshire etc have not imposed any fees or bans to date
Earlier this month, London Mayor Boris Johnson refuted claims that London would struggle to cope with the influx of visitors to London next summer, insisting: "We are ready". But with 5.5million** people expected to descend on the capital for the 2012 Games, there are still major concerns around a shortfall in accommodation. Some even fear that this could lead to London’s parks being turned into huge, make-shift camp sites for desperate visitors to the Games.
Advice from Holiday Lettings to Londoners considering letting their homes during the Games:
• Think research - find out if your local council has any plans in place for short let landlords
• Think like a guest – they want a home from home for their stay without the clutter of the owner’s belongings; provide a meet and greet service or use a key safe
• Think show home – whether letting for a fortnight or four months the property must be clean, well-presented and considerate of temporary occupants
• Think like a concierge – ensure guests know how to get around town, especially to the arenas; recommend the best local restaurants and where to buy groceries
• Think like a business – as paying customers guests will expect a high level of service, including a contact to answer their queries; the property will need a deep clean between guests and a level of cleaning service provided for longer stays
• Think about the competition – price weeks according to the property size, location and facilities while not over or under pricing too widely from other holiday lets in the same area
• Think USPs – why should guests pick your home over any other? Highlight unique features or provisions that mark the property as worthy of its price tag or a better option than one around the corner
For more information please visit www.holidaylettings.co.uk/resources/a-1-31-2486/
* Research conducted by Holiday Lettings, October 2011
About Holiday Lettings:
Holidaylettings.co.uk was established in 1999 by Ross Elder and Andy Firth. Part of the TripAdvisor Media group since June 2010, the business continues to thrive as an independent brand from its offices in Oxford. Jonathan Dees has been managing director since March 2011.
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*Through the TripAdvisor Media Group. Source: comScore Media Metrix for TripAdvisor Inc. and its subsidiaries, Worldwide, May 2012