The sector and its benefits
The short-term letting sector is a fast-growing and increasingly popular part of the UK’s accommodation space.
It encompasses not only individuals letting out their homes and the platforms which enable this, but also an entire ecosystem of businesses, including professional property management companies.
It is also a highly innovative and entrepreneurial sector, encompassing not only traditional tourism but also increasingly fast-growing markets such as corporate travel.
The UK Short Term Accommodation Association is the trade association for short-term rental companies in the UK.
Its members include online platforms, property management companies and individual hosts, and its job is to support the sustainable growth of the industry in the UK by educating operators in best practice, representing the sector to policymakers, and publicising the positive impact that responsible short-term letting has on communities and the economy.
You can find out more at www.ukstaa.org.
Short-term lets are therefore a great option for BTR operators and residents.
For buildings, short-term lets are a great way to reduce risks by creating additional sources of revenue, particularly during void periods between longer-term tenants, as well as by supporting the absorption period.
Allowing residents to short-let makes developments more attractive to prospective tenants
Allowing residents to short-let not only benefits them by giving them an additional source of revenue, it also gives developments a competitive advantage by making them more attractive to prospective tenants.
This can further reduce risk in the long-term by incentivising tenants to stay for longer, due to the increased flexibility afforded them by the building.
Finally, it also benefits the commercial tenants in a development, ensuring more spend in their establishments, and underpinning a strong mix of commercial outlets for residents and better commercial yields for the owners.
Short-term lets are also better for the environment as they constitute a more efficient use of existing residential stock and negate the need for further hotel construction.
From a social perspective, short-term lets can bring tourists into areas where they would not normally go and boost investment in local businesses and services, contributing to the wider local economy.
This can provide indirect benefits to developers, who will attract more tenants if the area in which they are developing is thriving.
Rules and regulations
The short-term letting sector is regulated, and there are a number of regulations which operators should be aware of.
- A full list can be found on the STAA website, and hosts should be aware of the following:
- Compliance with a range of health and safety legislation, including fire, gas, and electrical safety
- Existing planning restrictions in some parts of the UK, including Scotland and Greater London
- The need for hosts to pay all appropriate taxes, both at the national and the local level
- The need for appropriate insurance
- Permission from building managers that short-term letting is allowed in a shared building under the terms of a lease.
The STAA has produced a compliance checklist which contains links to all major pieces of government guidance on this subject.
Operational best practice should be considered in addition to regulation. We have a best practice charter and a buildings protocol which outline best practice in more detail, and we have included some high-level principles here:
- Try and keep guest stays to a minimum of three nights to minimise disruption for fellow residents
- Encourage guests to be respectful of neighbours, e.g., remind them not to buzz other neighbours for access to communal areas
- Notify your neighbours that you will have guests and provide them with a contact number for the host or approved company, should any issues arise.
A BTR owner needs to consider which approach is best for delivering short-term rentals
The different business models for delivering short-term rentals and the trade-offs of each
When entering this market a Build to Rent owner/operator will need to select their approach to deliver short-term rentals. There are several options to consider when ensuring the best outcome for your development.
- Is your plan to have a single channel to market (e.g., Airbnb or vrbo) or do you want to have a multi-channel approach to maximise your routes to market?
- Is targeting the corporate market a priority for your development?
- Do you have the team in-house to deliver a 24×7 hospitality operation?
- Do you have access to the technology to distribute and manage short-term rentals effectively?
- Is your strategy to deliver short-term rentals or to partner with a company/companies to help you deliver them.
Once you are clear on some of the key questions above, there are several typical models that most BTR owners/operators will take.
|Category||Description||Example partner companies|
|Fully in-house model||Build a team, build the tech and operate everything in house||N/A|
|Tech and operation||Select a partner company / companies to work with to provide the end-to-end process and deliver an income stream in the most hands-off way||Under the Doormat|
|Tech only||Use your current team or build an operational team to manage short-term rentals and partner with a technology partner to provide the distribution and operational management systems to deliver efficiently||Hospiria, Lavanda|
|Operations only||Select a platform (one or more e.g., Airbnb or vrbo) and an operational partner to support the delivery of the services (e.g., cleaning and linens) on the ground||City Relay, Nestor|
There are three main options for distribution.
Corporate lets strategy: If you would like corporate lets to be a part of your strategy, TrustedStays is the UKAA and STAA platform to help companies access the Global Distribution system (GDS) and this market.
Platform-led strategy: Using online travel agents (such as Airbnb and vrbo) as the channel to market strategy is another option and you can either list your properties direct, if you have a single channel strategy, or use a tech partner to access this distribution capability.
Multi-channel strategy: Having a mixed strategy to access both corporate lets via Trusted Stays, OTA platforms and direct bookings is the most complex but also most sophisticated and robust strategy. You will need a tech partner who is also connected to Trusted Stays/the GDS to go down this route.
Additional tools to improve the quality of short-term lets
In a diverse marketplace, it is important for operators to carve out competitive advantages.
The clearest way to do this is to become accredited via a third party.
The STAA has a partnership with Quality in Tourism to provide independent safe, clean and legal accreditation.
Operators can also improve the quality of their offering via tools such as a digital guestbook, with a guide to the local area and insider tips on the best places to go, or by delegating the day-to-day management of a let to an accredited professional company to ensure quality and compliance with all legal requirements.
The STAA runs an affiliate programme which includes a range of businesses who can help improve the operation of short-term lets.
For more details, you can visit the marketplace page on our website.