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Game on



any Londoners who didn’t manage to get tickets to the

2012 Olympics are likely to be contemplating getting as far away from the capital as possible while the games are on, and perhaps renting out their property while they do so. If you own a high-end property in prime central London,

chances are you wouldn’t normally think about a short-term let. But, according to Joanna Doniger, founder of Accommodate London, your Mayfair pad could be just what a famous athlete is looking for during the Games. Her company specialises in providing short-term rentals of private luxury homes during key sporting events, and grew out of Tennis London, which over the years has found temporary homes for many high-profile Wimbledon players such as Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and the Williams sisters. “I’ve got to find some very posh houses for some very top athletes,” Doniger told Mayfair Times. “A lot of Olympic athletes will have their families with them so won’t be able to stay in the Olympic Village. Properties in Mayfair will definitely rent.” Other potential clients include foreign media, dignitaries and business people with their families. “A lot of foreign media have to work through the night during the Olympics because of time differences, so they don’t particularly want to be in a hotel – they want to be self-catering,” says Doniger. “And people don’t want to be in east London. If they’re

coming here, they want to take advantage of the amenities in London, go to the theatre, go out to dinner and take advantage of the fabulous atmosphere we’re going to have here.” Ideally, Doniger says, she is looking for clusters of properties to accommodate large entourages. “It’s got to be smart, it’s got to have Wi-Fi, it’s very important to have a big, flat screen TV, decent beds, nice linen, smart towels. It does have to be smart.” For those worried about strangers sleeping in their multimillion-pound mansion, Doniger says, “First of all, they’ll have paid up-front, and we take a security deposit against any breakages or damages. We also find out who these people are and take up references, and many of the people involved, such as the media, we have worked with before. Somebody who’s

paying a lot of money for a house and coming for the Olympics is unlikely to be someone who’ll take off with the family silver.” The rewards for a short-term rental during the Olympics could be significant. “You could possibly get double what you’d normally get in rent, depending on the house,” says Doniger. “If it’s somewhere with a lot of space and bedrooms, you could get more than that.”

Mayfair estate agent Peter Wetherell agrees: “Some people say it could be between two and four times the usual rent. But we haven’t had one before, so we’ve got nothing to compare it with yet. I do know that people do quite nicely with their houses over Wimbledon.

“I’ve been asked by a number of people, clients of mine with magnificent penthouses, if I will rent them out during the Olympics, mainly because they don’t want to be around. They think the whole place will be completely gridlocked and they’d prefer to be somewhere else during that time.” The stumbling block, says Wetherell, is Westminster City

Council’s rule that no one in the borough is allowed to rent out their property for 90 days or less without specific planning permission. “Years ago people were renting out their flats in the area by the night and competing with the hotels and it got out of hand, so this rule was brought in to stop the area being so transient and get more living accommodation in Westminster,” he says. There’s nothing to stop Mayfair homeowners making an application for planning permission, which costs £335. But will the council stand in the way of Mayfair homeowners renting out their properties during the Olympics? According to Roald Piper, from Westminster council’s planning enforcement team: “We would consider applications case by case, on their own merits. “Anyone looking to rent out their properties during the Olympics for less than 90 consecutive days should apply in plenty of time to ensure they have obtained the necessary planning permission.”

Let us know how you get on.

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