Short-stay renting

First published in News by

FRUSTRATED house sellers who have spent months desperately trying to complete a chain only to end up with no house to move in to are creating a demand for short lets.

Peter Davies is a typical temporary tenant. He recently sold his house in Ruislip after a year of see-sawing emotional highs and lows.

For a week or so he would be elated that the other sales in the chain were holding together, then he would be plunged into despair when one or other of the dependant links fell apart.

Finally he and his wife Sarah found a house they liked – having loved and lost twice before in this sorry saga – and all seemed too good to be true. Which it soon turned out to be because the owners of their new favourite house lost the property they wanted and have decided to sit tight till after Christmas.

That left the Davies with two options: should they pull the plug on their own buyer who has stuck with them all along and thereby avoid the expense of moving out and putting their furniture in store? Or should they hold on to the good offer on their own house and go into rented accommodation until the owners of the house they want to buy find a place they like.

They have chosen the second option.

They've looked around and found a two bedroom house near Peter's job and close to the M40 for Sarah to reach hers. Their temporary home, which they hope to rent for three months, will also be big enough to take their furniture so they will save on storage fees.

Some agents will not accept rentals of less than six months. A 12-week stay can't be classed as an assured shorthold tenancy, consequently the property comes into the category of a holiday let.

That means the rent is usually higher to compensate for the additional administration cost and the landlord's heightened risk of voids between losing one tenant and getting another.

Some agents, however, take a different view.

Jay Ladwa, director of Hart in East Acton, has moved out of his house while it is being converted into two flats and is living in a two bedroom flat in North Acton which he has rented for three months.

He admits: "Landlords do prefer long term lets but it's not easy to find tenants at this time of the year.

"Certainly you don't want a leave a flat vacant for two or three weeks in winter. It's better to have a short term tenant and there is a demand.

"It comes from people like myself who are doing work on their house or are working on the property after subsidence or a fire or flood – in which case the insurance will probably pay the rent – or we get requests from people who are between purchases.

"In those situations, the tenancy has to be classed as a holiday let to make it watertight legally."

He is currently looking for a tenant for a three bedroom 1920s semi in Old Oak Road, W3. The owners have moved to Switzerland and would be ready to accept tenants on a three month let. The rent is £1,500 a month.

The two-bedroom flat Mr Ladwa renting will also be available when he moves out at the start of December. It is in modern block in Anderson Close, North Acton, and the landlord will be happy to take another short term tenant. The rent there is £1,000 a month.

James White at Adams' Ealing office agrees with the Acton agent.

He says it is preferable to have a property occupied than leave it empty in the hope of bagging a tenant who will stay for six months to a year.

"We let a property to a tenant in the summer who had been selling a house and buying and the chain didn't hold up.

"He rented for three months and moved out when he completed on his own place. There were no problems.

"There's an awful lot of rental property available at the moment.

"I would advise landlords to go for the short term tenant. The market could have picked up by the time they go."

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