Written by Mark Stroud
For most, the Olympic Games means a 16-day celebration of sport as the greatest spectacle on the planet comes to Britain. However, London 2012 also brings with it a number of implications for the capital's property market – for some welcome, but others, very much unwelcome.
It's no surprise that many landlords are taking advantage of the increased demand for room lets ahead of the Games. For them it's a golden opportunity to make some quick cash with fans willing to pay a premium for a place to stay near the Games' sites.
Many landlords have hiked their rental prices by five or six times the normal rate for the period of the Games and some in east London, home of the Olympic Park, by as much as 20 times, according to media reports.
One lettings agent described the increases as a simple case of "supply and demand", but a number of property experts suggest it's a move that could end up costing landlords money, particularly if they've evicted an existing tenant to do so. They argue that a potentially lucrative short-term let isn't worth losing a reliable, corporate tenant for and having to pay the costs associated with re-marketing the property.
And what about the tenants? One day you're paying £600 per week for a house share in Whitechapel and the next the landlord is threatening to evict you unless you cough up £3,000 per week. Homeless charities have condemned the "greedy" landlords taking advantage of the high demand for homes to evict tenants. They say rents are simply unaffordable for Londoners living in Olympic boroughs and claim the problems will remain long after the Games have left town.
But has the demand for short-term lets been exaggerated? London tourism chiefs expect the Olympics to attract around a million people to the capital in the form of spectators, journalists, businesspeople and Games officials. That's on top of the 1.5 million tourists London sees in a typical August and all will require somewhere to stay.
With London hotels fully booked well in advance of the Olympics rooms to rent are expected to be scarce. For some time, there have been stories of an inevitable last-minute scramble to secure short-term rental deals; even of people prepared to pitch tents in gardens.
It's not just landlords who expect to cash in on the influx of tourists. Large numbers of locals have decided to leave the capital for the duration and rent out their properties. However, as the Games draw closer, it is being claimed that many landlords have jumped the gun by hiking prices and evicting tenants and that the rush for short-term lets won't materialise.
Some estate agents have warned London's rental market has become flooded, that many properties will remain un-let and that, contrary to belief, supply is actually outstripping demand. One agent even commented that "landlords are outnumbering tenants".
Landlords are faced with another problem. Many are looking to let their properties for at least two weeks but are finding substantial numbers of tourists only want to book three or four nights.
Regardless of the pros and cons, it's clear the Olympic Games will see a dramatic increase in short-term lets and have a significant impact on London's property market.
Written by James Rowland
Whilst it’s not something you might immediately think of when considering how to give your house a facelift, your flooring can really affect the whole look of a room.
Since flooring and floor coverings like carpets are generally a major expense, most people don’t change them unless and until their existing flooring or floor covering gets worn out, spoiled by stains or faded by exposure to light. If your carpet has been spoilt by something like a stain or burn mark that has occurred accidentally, it’s always worth checking your home insurance policy to see if it covers you for accidental damage. Weigh up the cost of the excess and the effect on any no-claims bonus you have built up against the cost of replacing the carpet at your own cost before making any claim.
So what can you do with your floor other than fit a carpet? Well, have a look under your carpet first. There are many homes that have hidden gems of original floorboards or tiles under their carpets that can be restored to bring out their natural beauty with relatively little cost or difficulty. Sanding down floorboards and varnishing them takes perhaps a couple of days if you hire an industrial sander (but make sure you wear a suitable mask to protect your lungs and make sure there are no gaps around your door so that the dust doesn’t make its way round your entire house).
Buffing up and re-grouting original tiles and replacing any cracked ones will take a day or two (if you can’t find a similar enough tile to replace a cracked one, use one of the original ones from around the edge of the room, perhaps where a settee will ultimately sit, to replace it and fit another tile to replace the one that you won’t see).
You can always fit a new wooden floor (avoid vinyl or laminate in high-use areas – they don’t last long and are a false economy) or new tiles. Or you can pour on some concrete or floor-filler to create a flat surface and then paint it however you want: all one shade, or patterns, stripes and so on. You need to be sure of your own artistic skills if you’re going for this option and you need a good eye for colour, too. If you’re opting for a painted floor, you’ll need to add a rug to soften the room and make it warmer if that particular room requires it.
There is one problem with creating a new floor, though – once it’s finished, you’ll look at the rest of your room and realise that the walls need painting and your furniture needs replacing too…