Holiday and short-term let has proved very profitable for many property investors in recent years. However, the stratospheric rise of rental platforms such as Airbnb combined with adjustments to taxes in the buy-to-let sector has created an increasingly competitive and popular market for short-term rentals.
This environment has created concerns among industry experts that property has been removed from the long-term rental market, which has created a knock-on impact for local communities, neighbourhoods and tenants.
However, the outbreak of COVID-19 has meant that a significantly larger number of homeowners and landlords are choosing longer-term rentals over short-term lets as the demand for shorter-term accommodation drops.
New research conducted by the STAA (Short Term Accommodation Association) in the UK has highlighted how severe the impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus has been on the income and reservations of various companies.
The feedback that the STAA has received from its business and corporate membership, representing the majority of the lettings industry on a short-term basis, has shown that since the 13th of March 2020 most companies and businesses have seen over 70 per cent of their short-term rental reservations cancelled. This reflects the time that the first effects of the coronavirus were experienced in the UK, and some firms have seen more than 90 per cent of their short-term accommodation reservations cancelled.
However, according to the poll from the STAA, the vast majority of providers of short-let properties have lost over 70 per cent of their rental income.
UnderTheDoormat’s CEO and chair of the Short Term Accommodation Association, Merilee Karr, states that certainly these findings are not surprising, as the short-term lettings sector contributes a large amount of money to the British economy every year. However, the industry is now under serious threat. Ms Karr explains that, keeping in mind that the majority of their members and their clients and customers rely heavily on tourism for approximately 70 to 100 per cent of their income, the impact of this crisis caused by the COVID-19 virus could be potentially catastrophic for short-term landlords across the country.
She adds that for those short-term let landlords who are renting their homes out to tenants, the deficit in both future and present revenue could be devastating. With thousands of people using the shared economy in order to help afford their mortgage payments, for some short-term letting is their main source of income.
Many small entrepreneurs are also facing the collapse of their businesses, which will remove funds from local economies both now and in future years. In addition to this, services will be removed from local communities when the virus diminishes and demand resumes.
However, in positive news, many hospitality and property management companies, alongside homeowners, have been utilising their assets in order to open properties up to key workers. Schemes such as NHS Homes, which offers properties as free accommodation for NHS staff, demonstrate how the short-term lettings industry is doing their bit and pulling together during the crisis.
Free property management software can also help landlords, lettings professionals and short term lets to manage property during times of crisis. There are many types of property management software available, with many landlords choosing to use technology innovations for a wide range of tasks, such as storing documents relating to regulation and safety, setting reminders, accounting and tracking expenses.
Using software to store details of rental properties or tenants, as well as contacting suppliers and managing mortgage payments and tax liability reports, property management software ensures that property is managed effectively, efficiently and safely. This not only saves landlords money but also their valuable time.
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