5th Apr 2018

From homeowner to landlord – as easy as Airbnb?

The rise in popularity of short term letting platforms such as Airbnb can appear to present property owners with a tempting package. Through a flexible online platform, homeowners can earn an extra income by letting out that spare room or annexe which would otherwise sit empty, or even cash in on our region’s buoyant tourist industry by offering apartments or houses to visitors.

But while this is undoubtedly a growing trend, does the move to part time hotelier come with no strings attached? It’s a question I’m increasingly asked and – as with most legal queries – there are a few things to consider, particularly if you are purchasing a property with this use in mind.

If you have a mortgage, it’s essential that you do not breach the terms of your arrangement, which generally specify that interest rates are available for as long as the owner occupies the property as their only or main residence. Any letting may require you to obtain consent – failing to do so may lead to a demand for repayment in full or repossession of the property.

This applies to buy to let mortgages too, as lenders generally do not allow short term lets and usually require an assured shorthold tenancy agreement of at least six months.

On top of the mortgage provider, your insurer must also be kept up to date as if you don’t they could refuse to pay any claim and your policy could be invalidated. Be aware that changes may increase your premiums or refuse cover.

If you own a flat you need to watch out for clauses which state the property must be used as a “private residence” which restricts the renting out for short terms of days and weeks or it may also limit occupation to a single family or contain phrases such as “not to cause annoyance or nuisance” – a potential pitfall of taking in strangers as paying guests.

Managed correctly, there are plenty of benefits to letting space. If you are thinking of buying a leasehold apartment to use for holiday lets:

  • Let your conveyancer know at the start of the transaction so they can check the terms of the lease for you before you start spending money on searches and surveys
  • Discuss your circumstances with with your mortgage company
  • Explore options with your insurer

Michelle Crowhurst is a Director at Berwins and has been supporting homeowners in the Harrogate district for over 30 years.

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