Director of Central London lettings firm Draker Lettings
Q. I have several rental properties in central London and want to see if I can maximise my return next year by letting some or all of them for the Olympics. What should I charge and should I look for shorter tenancies now to ensure that they are available over the Olympics?
A. There is no doubt that there will be lots of visitors over the Olympics. This will result in some properties achieving a healthy premium for this three to four week period. At Draker, we are one of a handful of letting agencies able to accommodate short term rentals like this and are in the process of launching an Olympic section for our website that allows visitors to book premium accommodation quickly and easily. However, we have discovered that there are a few pitfalls to be aware of. Firstly, I would be very cautious about limiting a long-term rental now for the sake of a few weeks. Historically, there have been significant declines of up to 30 per cent in visitor numbers to a city that holds a Commonwealth or Olympic Games compared to the number of people who visited that same city the year before. This could result in many landlords having an empty property over this period. Secondly, there are only a few companies who understand the structure and risk attached to short-term rentals. Be very cautious about advertising on “pop-up” websites that have just been created for this period. Ensure that you are affiliated with an accredited estate agency wherever possible. Thirdly, in other cities that have hosted the Olympics, the short term lets have traditionally between four and six times the standard rate. Nonetheless, we recommend a fluid and flexible approach to pricing. This will ensure you actually get a tenant at this time.
Q. I am about to let my flat for the first time and I am nervous about how well a new tenant will look after my roof terrace. It is a passion of mine and has taken me years to cultivate. What is the best way to ensure that my tenant does not kill all my plants?
A. Firstly, there is a rule of thumb that I live by with this issue – all tenants kill plants. Once you have accepted this, you can start to manage this situation. Quite simply, I would recommend the following steps. Firstly, ensure that you are covered in the tenancy agreement. A good agreement will have clauses to ensure that you are at least financially protected should a tenant kill your beloved plants. Secondly, you can request that a tenant take the property with a gardener once or twice a month, but be aware that this is a point of negotiation and not something that a tenant has to agree to. Finally, I would be prepared to include a gardener in the rent. This will ultimately ensure that all will be as it should be at the end of the tenancy.
Tim Hassell, director of central London lettings firm Draker, specialising in Belgravia, Chelsea, Kensington and Pimlico. www.drakes.co.uk