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Last Real Estate news

Can you rent out your home to Olympics visitors and make a fortune?

Can you rent out your home to Olympics visitors and make a fortune?


Source: http://guardian.co.uk

 With millions of Olympics visitors searching for accommodation in 2012, we look at whether homeowners can make a packet by renting out their properties

 For those lucky enough to live anywhere near the Olympic site there's one big question: can I rent out my home for thousands of pounds and head off on an expensive holiday on the proceeds?

With the opening ceremony just over a year away, and lettings agents reporting the first expressions of serious interest from those looking to rent homes near to the action, Guardian Money has been asking whether there is serious cash to be made. Or are homeowners hoping for a bonanza heading for disappointment?

A whizz around the internet reveals plenty of households hoping to cash in. Owners of some – frankly, very ordinary – homes within walking distance of the Olympic Park in Stratford are asking as much as £5,000 a week. Even one-bedroom flats are being marketed at £1,500 a week.

The big question is whether they are going to get it. Joanna Doniger, who has let Wimbledon homes to tennis players for two decades and is an expert on the short-let market, predicts some homeowners will make some serious money, but others will be out of luck.

The owner of the Chelsea-based agency Accommodate London is offering the same service for 2012, and says it is already getting busy.

"We've been taking calls from media organisations and others who are going to be in London for the Games and are looking for homes to rent. There have also been lots of inquiries from people hoping to rent out their homes; however, we won't be taking them all on."

She says that to stand a chance of being suitable, a home will have to have certain features. A power shower, Wi-Fi, flatscreen TV and a high standard of decoration are a must – as is proximity to the Stratford site on foot or via public transport.

She predicts early house rentals will mostly go to people working in jobs connected to the Games – TV crews, journalists and the like. Individuals tend to book much later.
"Some groups will want to take a house for as much as four to six weeks. Potential renters will have to ask themselves whether they are prepared to be away for that long."

She predicts a three-bedroom family house very close to the stadium will rent for around £3,000-£4,000 a week. "We've let out a four-bedroom refurbished property near Victoria Park for more than £5,000 a week," she says.

If Wimbledon is anything to go by, she says, there will be a rush of bookings at the last minute from normal visitors leaving it late to find a bargain.

Those thinking of renting out their homes have two options: pay an agent specialising in short-term lets, or do it yourself. Agents will typically charge a commission of 10%-15% plus VAT. The advantage is that they provide a contract and, crucially, collect the money from the tenant.

Those looking to avoid paying commission tend to put their home on one of the many websites that have sprung up – such as Rentduringthegames.com, londonrentmyhouse.com and 2012homerentals.com. Fees to use the websites typically vary from £25 (to list a property) to £150. Usually you can upload pictures and full details. It is up to the householder, to agree a price, collect the rent and deal with the client.

Most homeowners trying to find customers were this week asking for a 50% deposit upfront and for the balance to be paid prior to the keys being handed over. This looks to be the major hurdle of going down the DIY route. After all, how many people would be prepared to send a £1,000-plus deposit to a stranger in the expectation that they will honour a rental a year later?

Rob Mearns, who set up rentduringthegames.com from his base in Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics, says there are currently 310 properties on his site. The average house is listed at around £3,400, or £900 per bedroom. Flats are typically being offered at around £1,300 per week.

"We are starting to see a much higher demand – website traffic is up over 620% since January, and I suspect the demand will just get much, much higher the closer we get to the Olympic Games," he claims.

Jo Selby of east London agents Alan Selby & Partners questioned whether those with long-established and happy tenants would want to go to the trouble of finding short-term Olympic lets, unless they just happen to have a vacancy at the time.

Others have questioned whether families have really considered what it entails. Cupboards and wardrobes will have to be emptied and personal possessions removed. The house will have to be spotlessly clean, and there is the cost/aggravation of finding somewhere else to stay.

Lastly, don't forget the taxman will want his share of the income you generate. Homeowners who decide to let their homes will also need to check with their insurers, as most household policies do not cover commercial rents. And your mortgage provider may have something to say on the matter, and will have to be notified.

During the 2000 Games in Sydney, a late scramble for accommodation drove up rents, especially near the Olympic village, to as much as 10 times normal rates. However, even as the Games started, lots of homes were still available.