London is one of the most visited cities in the world, so it’s no surprise that so many people need a place to stay there. In the very recent past you’d be limited to hotels, but the launching of Airbnb in 2008 changed it all. The property rental world has totally transformed in the past ten years and now short-term lets are the big thing. It’s easy, super profitable and everyone wants a piece of it.

We’d like to tell you about the skyrocketing short-term let scene in London and what property management services can do for you (spoiler: quite a lot). If you’d like more detailed info, check out our page on short-term lets

Colourful doorways in London

What is a short-term let?

Let’s make sure we’re all on the same page. ‘Short-term’ sounds vague but it has a very clear definition in the property world. A ‘short-term let’ is one that lasts between one night and six months. Anything longer than six months and it’s a not short-term let anymore. They’re also known as ‘holiday lets’, ‘short-term rentals’ and ‘short lets’ (if you’re feeling lazy).

Letting in London

Short-term lets are booming loud and proud in London, despite the recent legislation. The Deregulation Act in 2015 put a bit of a downer on things, stating that any property in Greater London must not be let short-term for more than 90 nights per year, in total. However, this hasn’t done anything to halt Airbnb’s growth in the Big Smoke.

London is still the most popular city in the world for Airbnb (a little bit ahead of Paris). The company has steadily grown since its founding in 2008, and Airbnb listings are now about one third of the size of London’s hotel sector. In 2017 there were over 6.7 million overnight Airbnb stays in the capital, and this is expected to grow further.

Naturally the hotels aren’t too happy, but Airbnbs offer a value for money that hotels just can’t compete with. What’s more, most short-term lets have a genuine homely feel – something that holidaymakers and citybreakers love.

Why should you let out your property short-term in London?

If you own a property in London then this is a brilliant opportunity for you. According to the WEF, London is the third most visited city worldwide, racking up 19.2 million visitors in 2017. This is an increase of 2.6% from 2016, so London’s only getting more popular. Experts reckon that the fall in the value of the pound might have something to do with it. So that’s a serious load of people visiting the capital and they all need somewhere to stay. This is where you come in.

There’s one big reason why you should be letting out your property short-term instead of long-term; money. When summer hits and demand shoots up, you’re able to take advantage of it and bump up your prices. If there’s a big event going on in England, it’s very likely to be in London. Think about the killing that short-term let landlords must have made during the 2012 Olympics or the recent royal weddings. There are also some huge events that come round every year, such as Wimbledon and the FA Cup final. All these occasions (along with the hot weather) are opportunities for you to make some serious money.

So how much would you gain from switching to short-term lets? Some industry professionals say that rental yields go up by around 30%, some say 50%, and some even say 60% and beyond. The estimates flying around the internet range all over the place, but the consensus is clear: it’s quite a lot.

Of course, long-term lets also have one obvious advantage, which is that you’ll have a fixed income. You receive monthly payments and you don’t need to worry about periods where your property is unoccupied. Fortunately, short-term let management services can deal with this problem.

Short-term let management services

Imagine all the hassle that comes with running a short-term let property: the furnishing, online listings, bookings, questions from guests, key handovers, cleaning, maintenance, and so on. Now imagine all that hassle disappearing. Short-term let management services are designed to take everything off your hands. You do nothing while they take a small cut to keep things ticking over. If your guests are happy and their reviews are good, your star rating will increase and consequently so will your income. Here’s a list of the basic services that most short-term let management services offer:

Jazz up your property. It’s important that your property looks clean, stylish and homely. Nobody wants to stay in a house that looks dirty and tattered. Tasteful people will take a look at your rooms, decide what needs to be done and then help you do it. This includes designing colour schemes, adding soft furnishings, sourcing new furniture and rearranging the layout of your property. Let the fashionable people take care of it.

Create your online listings. Once your property is all spruced up, it’s ready to be advertised on the internet. This involves professional photographs of each room and postings on lots of different websites, such as Airbnb, Zoopla and HomeAway. The more you put your property about, the better chance you’ll have of filling it.

Update your prices. It’s difficult to know how much to charge your guests, but property management services can work it out for you. They’ll look at the local market in order to create a competitive price for your property. Some services even include fancy algorithms that continually adjust your prices for changing demand. Go maths!

Do your online admin. Posting your property on the internet comes with a whole lot of extra work, but you won’t have to do it; all the bookings, requests and questions from guests will be taken off your hands. Short-term let management services will also verify the identity of anyone staying in your property.

Keep your guests happy. A landlord is only as happy as their happiest guest. It’s vital that your short-term tenants are pleased with everything, because a bad review could deter other people. Most property management services in London will greet your guests in person and then show them around their new digs. After that, they’ll receive some kind of ‘welcome pack’, usually including local recommendations and little fun things like chocolate and mini bottles of shampoo. These finishing touches are important if you want to impress your guests.

Take care of the housekeeping. You don’t want your property looking too “homely”. It needs be spick and span for every new set of guests. People will go round to your property, plump up the pillows and give everything a thorough clean and tidy. They’ll also keep it stocked with fresh linen sheets and clean towels. No, they won’t fold them into swans.

Tackle maintenance issues. You can’t avoid the old wear ‘n’ tear. Things break and you’ve just got to deal with it. Some property management services will have a handyperson on call 24/7 to deal with the majority of issues that crop up, such as hot freezers and broken flushes. However, most basic services offer only to alert you of any problems, which you then have to deal with.

Interior design

Best short-term let management services in London

So what are your options? Thankfully, there’s a healthy handful of short-term let management services in London. They all offer a fairly similar service, but each comes with its own unique advantage.

Hostmaker

This is the one with the cartoon pigeon that you’ve probably seen all over the tube. With Hostmaker, you can “get your yield up with your feet up”. Their people (called Welcome Wizards) greet your guests in person and show them around your property. The Hostmaker service includes everything you’d expect, including the fancy pricing algorithm that we mentioned before. They offer a seriously quick turnaround, promising to get your property live in the first 72 hours after signing up.

Their classic service charges 12% (plus VAT), while their premium service charges 17%, which includes end-to-end maintenance, short let insurance and a personal account manager. If you’re worried about not receiving a regular income, you can also opt for their Fixed Pricing option, which is more expensive but you’ll receive a fixed payout each month. Hostmaker operate in all of Zone 1, most of Zone 2 and some of Zone 3.

Pass The Keys

This rather forcefully named company are much more gentle than they sound. Pass The Keys offers everything that we’ve mentioned above, including 24/7 guest support and ‘hotel quality’ toiletries. They operate in Zones 1-3 and their prices start from 12% (including VAT). Unlike most of the other property management services in London, Pass The Keys recently became professional co-hosts for Airbnb.

AirbnbEazy

If you like everything in hot pink, check out AirbnbEazy’s website. This funky startup has been going since 2015, operating in 14 boroughs in Zones 1 and 2. Their Standard Service charges 12% (including VAT) and their Full Personal Management Service charges 15% (including VAT), which includes a personal key drop-off (as opposed to a lockbox). The best thing about AirbnbEazy is its One-Off option, which is helpful for landlords who like to run their own property but need a bit of help. Instead of subscribing to a longer arrangement, you can pay £70 for a one-time service from their people.

My Property Host

The services of My Property Host come at a slightly higher cost – 19% – but you get what you pay for. Along with all the standard features you’d expect (including greeting the guests personally), they also provide insurance cover of £1.2m. Most other property management services will tell you to look elsewhere for insurance, but My Property Host have got you covered. Furthermore, the £600,000 cover provided by Airbnb excludes many important things, such as artwork, jewellery and fire and flood damage. My Property Host operate in Zones 1 to 3, although they are still interested in discussing your property if it is outside this area. Bless them.

Hello Guest

Hello Guest operates in all London zones, which is very impressive. They’re particularly good at coming round to redesign your property before it gets listed online. People will look at your rooms and then create an arty “house theme”, proposing and sourcing items for you as well as offering decorating and DIY services. They charge 12% (including VAT), posting your property on over 40 letting websites.

AirSorted

As part of their guest communications, AirSorted promise “prompt responses and enticing dialogue”. They offer a Fixed Pricing option (like Hostmaker), which gives you a guaranteed monthly income. It’s good for the landlords who are worried about their property having empty periods, although with top quality property managers that should rarely be a worry. The other option with AirSorted is their standard service, charging 12% (including VAT). They have highly skilled professionals available for property maintenance and they operate in Zones 1-4.

Next steps

Any London property has bags of income potential, but it’s up to you to make sure it isn’t going to waste. Hire the services of a short-term let management company and you’ll start seeing big improvements. Think of them like a fairy godmother, here to spruce up your property and make it beautiful. Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo! Once your rooms are looking lovely and the guests are happy with the service, the 5-star reviews will start flying in and your income will shoot up.