Hotels are booking up fast and as a result savvy Londoners are offering their homes to rent for very attractive sums. If you’re going away or have another place to stay, it makes sense to get involved, too.
How much can you make?
It all depends on your property – people look to rent near the Olympic sites, but also in proximity to central London so they’re close to action, says Claire Whisker, the founder of London homestay provider Vive Unique.
“Dalston is an obvious choice, but Islington is also really popular because you’re near the Games and still in Zone One,” she says.
But you can still make a buck if your place is out west, because many won’t mind the journey.
A four-bedroom house close to the Olympic Park can go for £400 a night, says Whisker. One client, William Roberts, a 34-year-old lawyer from Queensland, is letting his two-bedroom Bermondsey flat out for two weeks at £4720.
Selina Hoare, 34, an editor for a legal company, who has a three-bedroom apartment in Shepherd’s Bush, uses Home Away to rent her property. She says: “I’ve got one week booked for the Olympics for quite a silly price – I’m making £3500.
It’s insane not to do it if you like holidays and you go away a lot. It means I can go
on holiday a lot more.”
Next: Is it for you?
Is it for you?
You are letting strangers into your home, and you’ll have to leave your furniture and possessions there. Hoare says she has come home to find things missing and claims people have smoked in her flat. But, she says, for the most part, people respect her possessions and have been fine.
Simon Hughes, managing director of Conran Estates, says: “When renting on a holiday-let basis, be mindful the deposit is normally only a few hundred pounds, so you risk losing more than its value. Even worse is what would happen if tenants emptied your home and damaged it. While you can go down the litigation route, ask yourself, how will you find them? And if they’re overseas, how will you take them to court?”
But this scenario, thankfully, is rare. Cathy Sayer, a 31-year-old PR from Auckland, regularly rents out her two-bedroom Notting Hill apartment through Vive Unique to help pay for her mortgage and holidays.
“I often return home to a cleaner flat than when I left it,” she says. “It’s hassle-free income and I already have a booking over the Olympics for which I am earning roughly double what I would usually.”
It’s still worth getting insurance, just in case anything does go wrong – most home insurance policies don’t cover commercial lettings, but ask for a policy from your existing insurer or get one through your homestay company if they offer the service.
You’ll need to check with your mortgage lenders to make sure you’re not breaking the terms – often lenders allow tenants but not always on a holiday let.
Also, check with HMRC for your tax obligations. These will vary depending on how much you earn.
Next: How it works
How it works
Start by signing up with a holiday or short- term rental company, which will advertise the property. Fees vary from £25 to £150
for a listing, or it may be free to list and instead the company will take a cut.
You can upload your own photos or listings companies send a photographer over to get the best pictures for the advert.
Be warned – renting your place is a competitive game, and your flat will have to be up to scratch. People usually look for comfortable flats or houses with modern fittings and facilities, like plasma TVs and power showers.
Whisker says: “Make sure your home is really well presented. The homes that attract people on the website are clean, minimal and clutter free.”
There are a few other ways to outdo the competition and earn more cash too. “Think about investing in a good quality airbed that you can store,” Whisker says. “A lot of guests are families and they’re more than happy for children to be sleeping on an airbed or a sofa bed.
“Also, if a homeowner can say to me, ‘we’re this close to the Tube and there’s a fantastic supermarket across the road and a fantastic restaurant and café’ – these are things that will help us to sell their property and to sell the location.”
Agents are expecting a last-minute rush, like before Wimbledon last year, so there’s still plenty of time to get listed before the Games.
Next: Sub-letting tenant and useful sites
If you don’t own your home, you could still make some moolah. Here are the pros and cons:
You can also rent out your flat for photoshoots during the Olympics – this is often done on a daily basis, so you don’t have to move out for it to happen.
Always check with your landlord beforehand – you may be able to agree on renting out a room or two while you’re there.
Be careful, as your contract may say you can’t sublet under any circumstances. But as this is technically a holiday let, you may be able to get around it.
Some tenants leave their flats during the Olympics and are planning to split the proceeds from the rent with landlords – have a word with yours if you think they might be interested.
But be careful – make sure you know whose deposit will be hit if something belonging to your landlord is damaged or stolen.
Thinking of doing it yourself? Try these sites