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Summertime and the letting is easy…

London in late summer is a wonderful thing. Leafy parks to stroll through, you can still catch languid lunches and sultry suppers at the thousands of wonderful places to eat. The city is still full to the brim of tourists seeking the London experience.

Tourists need accommodation and riding high on the technological wave is Airbnb. It works like any holiday booking site: prospective travellers go online, select the dates they wish to travel and pick from a list of options.
Founded in 2008 it has changed the holiday scene radically, partly because of its scale of enabling regular property owners to make extra cash by renting out their space.

For a property manager therein lies the problem. Managing multiple occupancy buildings is a high wire act at the best of times. Negotiating the range of requirements is complex so adding to the mix an unknown stream of visitors to the building is becoming an issue on a range of levels.

We wrote previously about the issues regarding Short Term Lets. One of the main problems being that short-term lettings can have disastrous effects on the amenity offered by the building, as short-term tenants are often noisy, transient and uninterested in the long-term comfort of residents.

We are seeing more and more issues as a direct result of Airbnb guests. The fragile eco-system of ‘community’ in communal living can become disturbed.

Questions you need to ask your property manager if you are considering renting via avenues such as Airbnb.

1. Are you allowed to rent your space?

Check your lease. Some buildings specifically disallow the practice which if ignored will result in a breach of the lease. It is prudent to check with your property manager what your individual situation might be. There are serious implications to breaching your lease. The biggest being forfeiture – the freeholder/landlord will take your flat back. That is a very poor return on what seemed like a good idea.

2. Noise and Security

Who is coming and going? It may be that its people who have rented for business reasons and just need somewhere convenient to retire for the night. However, for holidaymakers, spirits might just be a little louder. It’s a holiday after all. Living in your property full-time with the increased noise of holidaymakers is difficult. Added to that not knowing who they are can be unnerving. If you live in your building fulltime you are not likely to appreciate hotel style living around you.

Noise restrictions tend to be a section on your lease. Check your lease – don’t presume its ok.

There is also a security issue. Many of our buildings have CCTV and we are seeing a rise in requests to have it installed specifically because of the increase in overnight rentals.

This is going to affect the whole building, as the costs may need to be covered by the service charge. If you are renting your space, we ask you to have the utmost consideration for others in your building.

3. Insurance

Communal spaces are usually covered by buildings insurance. However we recently had to deep clean, repaint and re-carpet a stairwell due to short-term rental guests who had ‘enjoyed’ their holiday a little too much. This caused upset for full-time residents and has caused issues with the buildings insurance.
Insurance companies want to know the ins and outs of everything and the category of ‘accidental damage’ comes under scrutiny in these situations. Is this situation accidental damage?

If you are letting without permission you might have a very nasty invoice about to land on your doormat.

(Airbnb insurance, has coverage up to £600,000 but check the small print.)

4. Mortgage

Because of the inherent issues as above, many mortgage providers have a clause preventing short-term lets. As property managers, we have a duty to report our findings. Don’t breach your mortgage agreement. It’s expensive.

5. Rubbish

Rubbish removal is often a major issue at our buildings. The increase in rubbish caused by short-term lets will again put pressure on the service charge. As it is, residents and their service charge levels are always under scrutiny. Again we ask, if you are renting your space, we ask you to have the utmost consideration for others in your building.

So you still want to rent your space?

We ask in the first instance that you come to us to discuss your plans. Disputes between Resident Management Companies and landlords regarding Airbnb rentals are on the increase as are the rise in disputes over damage.

Talk to your property manager. Communication is key.


By Tim Darwall-Smith, Director, Sandrove Brahams Property Management Services