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Is Now a Good Time to Enter The Serviced Accommodation Sector?

Peter Hemple talks to investors that specialise in rent-to-rent and serviced accommodation

Thanks largely to the very swift success of Airbnb, which has over 60m users and provides a place to sleep for around 750,000 people around the world on most nights, many large cities in Europe and the US are starting to clampdown on short-term rentals with some trying to implement an outright ban on Airbnb.

Perhaps in an effort to protect the hotel industry, which employs around 100,000 people in London alone, the laws in many big cities regarding short term rentals are getting tighter. Lately in Paris, Berlin, and Barcelona, vacation apartments and the agencies that market them are being accused of depriving locals of places to live in permanently, which is pushing up both purchase and rent prices.

In Barcelona for example, landlords require a permit to rent their property out legally and last December the city fined Airbnb and HomeAway for listing apartments that did not have a license.

Berlin has now made it illegal for tourists to rent apartments in the city through Airbnb, hoping to keep the rents as low as possible for residents. If anyone is found listing their apartment, they can be fined as much as €100,000. The move, deemed essential to increase the supply of housing available for permanent residents, has already had a significant effect, with 40% of Berlin's Airbnb listings disappearing in the run-up to the law's introduction.

Market comment
However, those that are active in the sector in the UK are still very optimistic. John Kerr, owner of yourpartnerinproperty.com, was in the process of listing a Glasgow property with a 'channel manager' when I called. He explains: "There are dozens of different channel managers that manage your bookings and make sure you are not double-booked. For example, I have listed three properties with Avivo, which charges a fee of £20 per month per property. They then list my properties with around 30 different websites like booking.com, tripadvisor.com and airbnb.com.

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