Property News

Landlords Chase Olympic Gold

Em Morley - February 8, 2012

Athletes are not the only ones aiming to achieve gold in the Olympics, as landlords are quadrupling rents.

Landlords are even prepared to throw out current tenants in an attempt to make mega bucks off the back of the Games. Homelessness charity shelter is extremely concerned.

Existing tenants may also see their rent prices rise. One tenant has reported that a clause has been added to his tenancy agreement, stating that there will be a minimum rise of four times his contracted weekly rent during the Olympic period, and double his weekly rent during the Paralympics.

Some letting agents in London have begun renting out properties for the Olympics, one of which, Foxtons, have 1,100 homes available for rents up to £100,000.

However, there does not seem to be a high demand for these properties from Olympic visitors.

Landlords Chase Olympic Gold

Landlords Chase Olympic Gold

Head of Lettings at London agents WA Ellis, Lucy Morton, says: “We are now receiving inquiries in their droves about lettings over the Olympic period. Interestingly, 90% of these inquiries are coming from landlords, which tells a story in itself. At the moment, there is very limited demand from tenants.

“In my opinion, it is the hoteliers who will benefit from increased occupancy and rates, and not the majority of landlords.

“The clear advantage is that the average increase is 400% of the long-term rental value, but this may vary depending on the property and location.”

Morton continues: “However, the major drawback is the void period running up to the let, and more importantly, following the let.

“If long-term investors jump on the Olympics bandwagon and launch their properties back on to the market in September, there is a strong risk that there will be a sudden surge in supply of properties available, without the demand.

“We are already noticing a reduction in demand levels. I believe that the lettings market plateaued in October 2011, and in some areas is now marginally dropping. The reason for this change in market conditions is that the city is not employing its normal influx of expats and it is these tenants who underpin the lettings market.

“With the economic outlook looking bleak, this situation is not going to improve, and therefor the market will not be able to copy with this extra supply which could drive rents down.

“In addition, anyone wanting to let during the Olympics will also need to apply for planning permission to let their property for less than 90 days. Without it, they are breaking the law and could be fined up to £20,000.”

Morton adds: “The future sale of the property could also be affected as any enforcement notice will be registered as a legal charge and this may deter future buyers.

“A short let may also invalidate some insurance policies. If the rent is under £1,923 per week, it will become an AST [Assured Shorthold Tenancy] and therefore a section 21 notice must be served. If the tenant refuses to leave, they may be able to stay for six months until court proceedings can be initiated.

“The final major risk is wear and tear. Landlords can’t be sure that the tenant will treat their property as their home during this short period. No deposit will cover the replacement value of furniture and fixtures and fittings, let alone any replacement of carpets or redecorations.”

Morton advises: “Ignore the hype and temptation, unless the current tenancy is actually coming to an end in July, or unless you are a homeowner who wants to avoid the Olympic gridlock in London and flee to calmer and possibly warmer climates.”1

Director of Campaigns, Policy and Communications at Shelter, Kay Boycott, says: “We’re beginning to see worrying signs of the pressure-cooker effect the Games could bring, including some indications of landlords looking to evict their current tenants in order to let their homes to Olympic visitors this summer.

“It’s absolutely vital that anyone who thinks they could have problems seeks advice immediately.”1

HM Revenue & Customs is also warning against landlords who attempt to dodge taxing their income.

“Around special events, such as the Olympics, we want to make sure that people who decide to let their properties, or parts of their properties, for short periods are declaring and paying the right amount of tax,” says a spokesperson.1