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A short-term lettings storm at the seaside

The south’s seaside resorts are stealing the headlines for all the wrong reasons and at the heart of the troublesome issue is the lack of professional property management.

You may have read about an Airbnb property in Brighton where the balcony collapsed, injuring four people. The news coverage that followed included an interview with a local letting agent stressing that short let landlords operating without a professional management partner were providing inadequate and often law breaking properties. There was also advice from the local fire and rescue service, encouraging those who rent out their properties to conduct regular risk assessments. 

Along the coast in Newquay, it’s a different emergency service that has identified a worrying issue related to lettings. The Cornwall favourite is now plagued by ‘pop up’ brothels – houses of ill repute that open in rented accommodation, stay for a few days, then leave. The police have noted that the rentals are usually booked online and take up residency in short-term or holiday lets, leaving the owner none the wiser as to who is residing in their property.

It is the short-term lettings sector that is once again crying out for a more professional steer, presenting a gap in the market for letting agents and property managers looking to widen revenue streams in 2017. 

Short-term lets are lucrative and many conventional landlords are shying away from long tenancies in favour of the attractive returns that accompany short lets, even if it means more intensive wear and tear.

Short lets, however, are harder to manage and it’s evident that some sort of specialist tenant referencing, maintenance schedule and property inspection is needed. Letting agents could step up and provide these services to landlords in the absence of a proper framework from the likes of Airbnb.

Seaside towns are often party towns, with hen and stag groups just as likely to book short lets as holiday makers and politicians making annual pilgrimages to party conferences.

Business is brisk, just like the sea breeze, with visitors as likely to search for private/residential accommodation as they are hotels. 

What is apparent is that property owners-turned landlords need professional support in their quest to make short-term lets a successful business – whether that’s regular property inspections, pre-planned maintenance, key holding, cleaning/maid services or tenant checks. 

Making sure your agency is resourced and ready to take advantage of this situation should be a top priority. It’s time to develop a new short lets strategy to create a new income for your business.

*Simon Duce is managing director of the ARPM Group, which provides national outsourced lettings support 

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