21,000 empty homes during a housing crisis... a unique London problem with a modern solution?

You may have read the recent article in the Evening Standard regarding the unbelievable number of empty homes in London; figures show that more than 21,000 homes, including those privately owned have been empty for over 6 months. This represents almost £12.4 billion worth of housing and according to Dan Ganesha, property expert at crowdfunding platform Property Partner, is a “shocking waste of opportunity and nothing short of a scandal”.

The sheer volume of under-utilised housing in the capital indicates the problem is not just limited to all those Kensington penthouses that have been bought up by oil tycoons. Numerous other factors seem to be at work here and as Sadiq Khan outlines his goals during his term stating “The key thing for me is to tackle the housing crisis”, we think a very modern trend can be harnessed to provide more homes for professional Londoners -

At The Air Agents we believe there is an opportunity to use the principles of the sharing economy to pioneer a completely new approach to help ease the crisis. We all know that many Londoners are opening up their homes to tourists for short term holiday lets via platforms like Airbnb. Well imagine if that brilliant idea was applied to hundreds of empty London homes via a government backed website that allowed people with empty properties to source professional UK based tenants for 3-12 month periods? A ‘domestic Airbnb for UK based workers’ if you will.

Property owners would not have to lock themselves into a long term tenancy agreement and would have complete flexibility in determining exactly what dates are available for letting. They could access a government approved tenancy agreement via the platform, (amending it as per necessary) and of course stipulate what type of tenants would be considered. To use the service, potential tenants would require a verified ID (just like Airbnb guests today) and would gain access to an easy-to-use database of potentially thousands of properties, not currently available in the lettings market. Furthermore they would be able to quickly and efficiently see what was available and at what price in their chosen area.

As a company with plenty of experience in short term lets, we at The Air Agents know how flexible the model can be. Whilst we predominantly deal with holiday-makers, previous guests have been as diverse as contract workers requiring accommodation for a few weeks, to a family in zone 4 needing a place to live for a few months whilst their home was being renovated. The point being that new technology opens up new possibilities, bringing with it the chance to make under utilised space available for renters at a time when young Londoners need it the most!

Sadiq Khan listed this issue as the main priority in his manifesto. We say it’s time to explore this new avenue to help deliver on this promise.