Be a landlord for the Olympics

Homeowners could earn thousands by renting out their properties during the Games next summer. Lucy Tobin discovers the pluses and pitfalls of Olympic lets
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You don’t have to be an athlete competing in the Games next summer to get your hands on some Olympic gold. With millions of visitors, officials, ticket-holders and members of athletes’ entourages coming to town, homeowners could earn thousands by renting out their properties.

How much you could make depends on your property’s proximity to the Olympic Stadium or other Games sites - equestrian events, for example, will be held in Greenwich - as well as all the usual rental property variables of size, features and quality of furnishings.

In general, estate agents reckon the “Olympic premium” will add about 20 per cent extra on to short-term rental incomes. But to cash in on an Olympic let, you need to be aware of the tax allowances and civil rules. If you intend to stay at home whilst welcoming a guest, you may qualify for rent-a-room relief, which means the first £4250 of income is tax-free.

But if you expect to earn more, or you’re temporarily moving out, you may be able to use some of the cash spent on repairs, decorations, advertising, and legal and financial advice to reduce your tax bill - so save copies of bills to show to your accountant.

Mortgage and insurance implications are also crucial. “Within greater London planning permission is required to use residential properties for temporary sleeping accommodation,” warns Julien Allen, partner at law firm Trowers & Hamlins. “Homeowners should always check the position with their local council.”

Breaking prohibitions could lead to enforcement action and, if the situation is not remedied, could trigger a visit to court and a fine of up to £20,000.

“There could also be specific exclusions prohibiting short term lets if you rent your property but do not own it,” Allen adds. “If a short term let was granted where there is specific exclusion, the consequences range from losing your right to rent the house, to being sued for damages by the owner for potentially thousands of pounds.

“If the property is mortgaged, it is often a term of the mortgage that the owner only uses the property as their main dwelling. If this is the case, homeowners should ensure they get consent - a fee will commonly be charged. To default on mortgage terms could lead to enforcement action, which could mean repayment or repossession.”

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