Why has there been a boom in the short-term lettings market in recent years? We ask Kate Liberty from UnderTheDoormat for some insight
“It’s simple. Consumers like to stay in the comfort of a home and with growing professionalism in the sector, people who used to prefer hotels and choosing to stay with branded companies that offer a high standard, with all the home comforts. Goldman Sachs research shows that once consumers stay in a home, their preferences change and that becomes their default. PWC estimates that the sector is growing 30% year on year and will reach £52b in the UK alone by 2025.
“When I set up UnderTheDoormat, there weren’t many options, and peer-to-peer via Airbnb was the norm for what was available. As high end property owners have entered the market (typically working with companies who manage everything for them, and provide the critical element of insurance as well) it means that the quality of what travellers can select in homes has increased considerably and is reaching a broader market (not just younger travellers looking for a cheaper option).
What are the advantages of letting your home?
“Most people think about extra income as the main driver, and for many people that is a key consideration, as the income you can generate can range from covering some of the costs of your holiday, through to over £100k per year for a large property in a prime location with high availability. In addition to the money, there are a number of other important benefits.
- It provides security for the property when you are away or aren’t living in it yourself. This is particularly important for second homes which might sit empty for periods of time.
- The home is looked after and lived in. Just like a car which isn’t driven, homes that sit empty tend to have maintenance issues arise. Having paying guests is a way to keep your home running and have a company look after it for you while earning the extra income on top.
- Opportunity cost. Having a valuable asset sit empty is an opportunity cost, even if you don’t need the extra cash. You could be investing the income, supporting a charity or funding renovations. Savvy property owners reap the benefits and can choose to use it in a number of smart ways.
Is short letting right for me?
“Short letting isn’t right for everyone. Three questions to answer to decide if it is for you:
Is my home guest ready?
“You might be willing to live with small maintenance issues or without a fire extinguisher, but your home must be in tip top condition and meet all legal requirements to welcome paying guests.
Will guests choose my home?
“You might like the ornaments your grandmother handed down to you, but your home will need to be appealing to others, and whether it is modern or classic, it needs to be of a high standard, clean and well photographed. Special features like a grand piano are great, lace curtains and tablecloths perhaps less so. Ask an expert as it’s sometimes hard to see past your own preferences.
Am I comfortable with people staying in my home?
“This is an important question as Populus research shows that more than 65% of people would feel comfortable renting their home if the right insurance and guest vetting processes are in place. But 35% wouldn’t. Before you spend lots of time on this, be honest with yourself and discuss it with whoever else is involved and know the answer to this question.
If I am going to short let my home, what do I need to do?
For those that do embark on short term letting there are three key decisions you need to make early on.
Do I know what is required to get started?
a. Understand the legal requirements. A good place to start is here:
b. Consider joining an industry body such as the UK STAA so that you can get access to all the guidelines you’ll need to follow and learn about changes in the market
c. Read up on best practice and the resources available to help you
Do I want to be a hospitality provider myself or do I want to find a company to manage it for me?
a) If you opt to do everything yourself, you might choose a website like Airbnb, Booking.com or even LoveHomeSwap to market your property. If you elect this option, just be aware that this can be a 24×7 job and guests will expect a lot to get the good reviews to make it successful so think about whether this is your passion or not. It is far more than handing over keys every now and again.
b) If you want a company to manage your property or portfolio of properties, think about what approach you want to take. You could opt for an Airbnb service provider to do some bits and pieces for you and market it through Airbnb. There are many of these types of companies around, from individuals who host for their neighbours to companies like Guest Ready and Houst who offer a basic level of service for any type of property and take a fee. Or you can choose a company with a brand in the market which aligns to the type of properties you have.
Likely these companies will earn you more, so while their fee is higher, your net income might be greater too. They will often have access to corporate guests, will do much more vetting and provide insurance, taking responsibility for delivering a high standard of service to you and the guests who stay in your home. Companies like UnderTheDoormat and onefinestay are good examples to consider if you want a fully managed option.
c) Finally, you might be great at the hospitality side, and have your own team to manage your portfolio, but you need a company to market and distribute it to get access to the best channels to market and latest pricing technology to maximise your income. In this case, Hospiria might be a good option for you to consider so you can focus on what you are best at – and get access to a world leading team who can help you succeed in your part of the UK.
Do I have insurance to protect my home or my portfolio of properties?
“Be aware, platforms like Airbnb provide Host Guarantees, but this is not insurance for your property (read the fine print!) You can either work with a company that provides insurance such as UnderTheDoormat, or select a bespoke provider like GuardHog who can provide extra cover for this activity. Whichever choice you make, coverage is important to avoid any unexpected surprises and while you may never need it as major issues are rare if your property is well managed, we have heard too many stories, particularly of individuals managing it themselves who got caught out, so it’s an important consideration.
What is the history of UnderTheDoormat?
“I set up UnderTheDoormat after a 12-year career at Shell. I travelled a lot for work and leisure and my favourite experience was always a home stay. However, I also had some mixed results using peer-to-peer platforms which gave me the idea of setting up UnderTheDoormat to provide a professional service to homeowners and guests. I am passionate about raising standards in the industry which is why I co-founded the UK Short Term Accommodation Association, which I currently Chair.
How does the service from UnderTheDoormat differ from other short-term letting companies?
“UnderTheDoormat provides a professional service for homeowners who are often away from the main home, have a pied-a-terre which is vacant a few nights a week or even a portfolio of properties which they are looking to monetise. We can even help owners who are going through the selling process and want to earn income while they wait for the right price.
Our service is fully-managed so owners don’t need to get involved in any of the complexities of running short term rentals. We will market their home on an exclusive combination of more than 40 booking platforms, prepare their home for guests, look after the guests during their stay and prepare the home again for the owner.
One of the biggest differences with UnderTheDoormat is our homeowner insurance. Not many people realise their regular home insurance doesn’t cover them for paying guests. We have additional insurance included in our service to homeowners, so should the worst happen – their home is safe.
Can I deliver the onsite guest experience myself and just get help with bookings and technology?
“Absolutely – our partnership model, Hospiria, provides just that. It enables those who have the ability and passion to operate short term rentals but need help with the marketing and distribution to access our channels and guest-vetting processes but keep control of the operational side. Perfect for those who love meeting and hosting guests but are struggling with the amount of time and resource required to generate the occupancy, revenue and answer all those enquiries from potential guests!
How can UnderTheDoormat provide peace of mind when I let my home?
“Our Peace of Mind Pledge is something that helps our owners and guests feel at ease when it comes to short term rentals. This includes our market-leading insurance, guest vetting and 10 Point Hygiene Promise.
During the pandemic if any of our homeowners had questions about our cleaning policies, we were able to point them to our 10 Point Hygiene Promise. We have always had very high standards when it comes to cleaning our properties so Covid has not had a big affect on our practices. We take the cleanliness of our properties very seriously and always ensure we keep to it to a great standard.
What can a guest expect from UnderTheDoormat?
“UnderTheDoormat guests can expect the service of a five-star hotel in the comfort of a home. We always greet out guests in person at the home, making sure everything is perfect for the guest’s arrival. We take care of all the little touches – like using hotel-quality linens, towels and luxury toiletries – in the home. There is a welcome pack too – including tea, coffee, dishwasher tablets and luxury snacks. Our team is on hand to assist with anything guests need during their stay such as taxis, local tips or assistance with anything in the home such as how to work the oven. We also have a 24/7 emergency line, so our guests are always able to contact us no matter what the time of day.
Where can I find out more about UnderTheDoormat or Hospiria?
“For our fully-managed model, underthedoormat.com
For our marketing and distribution only solution, hospiria.com
Or get in touch directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our team will be happy to discuss both options.”