Rental sector abandons short-lets as virus kills off tourist business

There’s been a sharp drop in rental churn since the Coronavirus outbreak worsened according to a flat-sharing website.

SpareRoom says that across the UK there was a 20 per cent drop in people looking for rooms over the week to last Monday, March 16.

However, despite London being regarded as three weeks ‘worse’ in terms of virus cases than the rest of the country, churn there remains higher with a fall of only 15 per cent.

In response, landlords are trying to shift from Airbnb-style short lets – which have seen catastrophic falls in activity in the past fortnight – to traditional long-term lets.

SpareRoom says that with the rising concern about face to face contact there has been a rise in video calls, both to discuss properties and to view them ‘virtually’.

“Although it’s still early days, we’re seeing some interesting shifts in behaviour on both sides. Following widespread cancellations, we’re seeing both landlords and homeowners moving from short term rents to looking for longer term security” says Matt Hutchinson, SpareRoom director.

“Tenants are getting creative by using video calls to hold virtual viewings and interviews. The people you live with make a far bigger difference to you than the property itself, and video calls are a great way to get that all important first impression before deciding to go and see a property. It also minimises the need for travel and social contact so it’s a win-win.”

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