The Landlord's Blueprint for Success in Serviced Accommodation Investments



The Insider @ Houst
Last updated on
February 13, 2024

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The Landlord's Blueprint for Success in Serviced Accommodation Investments

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Welcome to the wonderfully dynamic world of serviced accommodation. Picture this: fully furnished properties, sparkling with charm and character, ready to welcome guests for both fleeting visits and extended stays. That, in a nutshell, is what we call serviced accommodation. 

These aren't your run-of-the-mill rental properties; oh no! Imagine the snugness of home sweet home mixed with the pizzazz of a swanky hotel. You get regular housekeeping, linen changes, and customer service that’s just a call away. It's like having your cake and eating it too, but in the world of real estate.

Now, let's talk about why serviced accommodation is the talk of the town in the UK’s real estate and hospitality market. These properties aren't just places to crash; they're fully kitted out with kitchens, cosy sleeping areas, bathrooms, and the holy grail of modern living – internet.

All bundled up with the comforts and privacy of home, yet all the snazzy amenities for those longer stays. It's the perfect blend for today’s traveller.

But wait, there's more! The serviced accommodation sector is strutting its stuff on the hospitality catwalk, turning heads and catching eyes. It's been a beacon of resilience and innovation, shining brightly even through tough times. 

Savvy investors have been quick to catch on. They're seeing the sparkle in this sector – it’s not just about diversifying their portfolio, it’s about hitching their wagon to a star that promises stronger returns, more flexibility, and smoother sailing in terms of cash flow. In other words, serviced accommodation isn’t just a passing trend; it’s a forward-thinking move in the property world.

Objectives of the Guide

So, what's in store for you in this guide? Fasten your seatbelts, because we’re about to embark on an enlightening journey through the realm of serviced accommodation. 

From understanding the nitty-gritty of what makes these properties tick, to exploring the burgeoning market opportunities – we've got it all covered. 

This guide is your golden ticket to understanding the serviced accommodation sector in the UK, inside and out.

Whether you're a curious onlooker, an aspiring investor, or a seasoned pro looking for fresh insights, this guide is your trusty companion. We're here to unpack the complexities and present them to you on a silver platter of easy-to-digest, expert knowledge. 

Consider this guide your central resource, a beacon in the ever-evolving landscape of serviced accommodation. Get ready to dive into a world where comfort meets convenience, and investment meets innovation. 

Let’s get started, shall we?

Table of Contents

Serviced Accommodation Management

1. Basics of Management

Roll up your sleeves, because managing serviced accommodation is no small feat. It's a juggling act involving property maintenance, housekeeping, customer service, and the ever-so-tricky bookings management. The end goal? To ensure your guests are wowed each time they step through the door, greeted by a sparkling clean, well-maintained abode that feels just like home.

2. Management Companies and Services

Enter the lifesavers: management companies. These folks are like the backstage crew in a theatre, handling everything from fixing leaky taps to ensuring the Wi-Fi is zippy. They let property owners kick back and enjoy the perks of short-term rentals without breaking a sweat. But, and it's a big but, handing over the reins to a management company can be a bit pricey. Plus, you might find yourself missing the thrill of being the puppet master of your own property.

If you're the hands-on type, self-management might be your cup of tea. Imagine having the whole show under your control, and potentially saving a few quid while you're at it. But, fair warning, it's not all roses. You'll need to invest time and brainpower, and maybe even get cosy with a virtual assistant or two.

3. Understanding Management Fees

Now, let's talk turkey – or rather, management fees. These can munch away 15% to 40% (sometimes more) of your property’s earnings. Ouch, right? On the flip side, virtual assistants charge you only for the help you need, making them a nifty option for the cost-conscious.

4. Technology in Management: Software Tools

In this digital age, software is your secret weapon. Take Elina PMS, for instance, which offers a one-stop-shop for property and reservations management. Or RoomRaccoon, a central hub that puts everything from bookings to billing at your fingertips. And let's not forget Guesty, a whiz at optimising everything from occupancy to operations. These tools are like having a virtual butler, only for your serviced accommodation.

5. Case Study: Management Practices in the UK

The UK's serviced accommodation scene is buzzing, thanks to the likes of Airbnb and an increasing appetite for homely digs. Companies like Renta Properties are at the forefront, juggling guest communications, property upkeep, and savvy marketing. Meanwhile, in London, Truestays is making waves with its full-service approach, catering to all market segments and maximising returns for hosts. The domestic tourism boom, fuelled by travel uncertainties, has only added to the allure of these services, making serviced accommodation management a hot ticket in the UK's property market.

Types of serviced accommodations.webp

Types of Accommodation

1. Serviced vs. Non-Serviced Accommodation

Step into the world of accommodation types, where 'serviced' and 'non-serviced' are more than just fancy terms. Serviced accommodation? Think of it as your home away from home, but with someone else doing the chores. It's decked out with all the trimmings – comfy furniture, Wi-Fi, and those little hotel-like services that make life easier. Housekeeping, round-the-clock customer care, and enhanced security – it's all part of the package.

On the flip side, non-serviced accommodation is like the DIY version of staying away. It's the classic 'find your own adventure' – from city apartments to quaint cottages or even caravans, offering varying levels of luxury (or rustic charm). You won't find any housekeeping fairies or 24/7 customer service here, but hey, it's all about that authentic, self-sufficient experience.

Now, the pros and cons. Serviced apartments are the chameleons of the travel world, perfectly suited for business trips, family holidays, or even those in-between home situations. They offer the golden trio: flexibility, privacy, and convenience. Non-serviced apartments, though, play a different tune. They offer a smorgasbord of options, self-catering freedom, and typically, laundry facilities. Ideal for the adventurous, the relocators, or the holiday-making tribes.

2. Market Demand and Consumer Preferences

The UK's serviced accommodation scene is not just surviving; it's thriving. It's like the star of the accommodation show in Europe. With the world evolving – hello remote work and flexible lifestyles – serviced accommodation has stepped into the spotlight. These little havens offer a 'homey' feel that traditional hotels sometimes miss, making them a hit among modern workers and travellers.

By the end of 2022, expect a dazzling array of over 27,000 units in the UK's serviced apartment and apart-hotel sector. That's growth that would make any market analyst's heart sing. And the real kicker? Independent operators are the ones bringing in the big guns, contributing over 70% of this new, exciting supply.

But wait, there's more good news - Even amidst the global pandemonium of recent times, the UK's regional serviced apartment sector has been laughing all the way to the bank. With a Gross Operating Profit of £25.40 per available room, it's outperforming its hotel cousins by a whopping 40%. Talk about resilience and charm! This sector isn't just a player; it's a game-changer in the world of accommodation.

A screenshot of an Airbnb listing for a serviced accommodation property in Brixton, London.

Serviced Accommodation in Different Locations

1. UK Market Overview

Dive into the UK's serviced accommodation market, and you'll find a vibrant and diverse landscape. From the rolling hills of the countryside to the bustling streets of the cities, these accommodations are popping up everywhere. They're not just rooms with a bed; they offer a slice of home, with services like cleaning and maintenance thrown into the mix. They're the go-to choice for tourists needing a break, business travellers on the move, and even locals in search of a temporary haven.

2. Spotlight on London

Now, let's zoom in on London, a city that's always on the go. Here, serviced accommodation is as varied as the city itself. You've got swanky luxury apartments in the heart of the city, and more wallet-friendly options tucked away in the suburbs. But, it's not all about picking a fancy pad and settling in. London has its own rulebook for serviced accommodation, covering everything from planning permissions to safety must-dos. Navigating these rules is key to finding the perfect London stay.

3. Identifying the Best Areas

So, what makes an area a goldmine for serviced accommodation in the UK? It's all about location, location, location! Areas bustling with tourists or brimming with business activity are where the action's at. Think good transport links, proximity to major attractions or business centres, and a neighbourhood that’s both safe and easy on the eyes. These are the spots where serviced accommodation can really shine.

4. Regional Variations and Opportunities

The UK's serviced accommodation scene is like a tapestry of different threads, each region with its unique charm. Take historic York, for instance, with its cobbled streets and ancient walls – a dream for culture vultures. Then there's Manchester, with its thriving business district, beckoning to those on corporate crusades. Understanding these regional flavours isn't just interesting; it's crucial for pinpointing new opportunities in the serviced accommodation market. Each area offers a different story, a different audience, and a whole new set of possibilities.

Photograph of the backyard of a London based rent to serviced accommodation.

Rent to Serviced Accommodation

1. Understanding the Rent-to-Rent Model

Let's unravel the mysteries of Rent-to-Rent Serviced Accommodation (R2SA). Picture this: you find a landlord who's a bit fed up with their property's demands. You step in like a property superhero, offering them a steady rental income – music to their ears, especially if they're looking to retire or step back. Your master plan? To rent out their property to short-term guests, earning more than what you pay the landlord. The difference? That's your well-deserved profit.

2. Legal and Contractual Considerations

Now, let's get serious about the legal side of things. When dabbling in R2SA in the UK, it's vital to understand the contract you're signing up for. You've got two main types: short-term and long-term. Short-term contracts are like a casual fling with the property – you use it when it's free. Long-term contracts, however, are more like a committed relationship. You treat the serviced apartment like a hotel room, focusing purely on its investment potential. Each type has its nuances, so choose wisely.

3. UK Market Focus

R2SA in the UK is like a plant that’s found just the right spot in the sun – it’s growing rapidly. Thanks to the industry's knack for keeping up with trends, it's becoming a hot favourite. But, here's the catch: not all rent-to-rent deals are winners. Some can be about as effective as a chocolate teapot, which means you need to be smart and strategic. Understanding the market and making savvy decisions is key to ensuring your investment doesn't just simmer but sizzles.

4. Success Stories and Pitfalls

For every tale of triumph, there’s a cautionary tale in the R2SA world. Some investors have hit the jackpot, raking in impressive returns with this strategy. However, it's not all roses and rainbows. Some deals can lead to a less-than-stellar return on investment. To avoid falling into a pitfall, you need a blend of careful planning, a solid understanding of your contract, and top-notch property management. Get these right, and you could be well on your way to R2SA stardom.

A cleaning crew of a serviced accommodation property in UK.

Serviced Accommodation Business and Planning

1. Starting a Serviced Accommodation Business

Venturing into the world of serviced accommodation? Here's your treasure map. First, get the lay of the land – understand the market, its demands, and who you're up against. Next, find your golden goose, a property ripe for transformation into a cosy nest for travellers. Then, it's makeover time – furnish and spruce up to meet the high standards of serviced accommodation. Don't forget the megaphone for marketing your property. Think Airbnb listings, a snazzy website, or a buzz on social media. And finally, the captain's duties – managing bookings, ensuring guest happiness, and keeping everything shipshape.

2. Business Planning Essentials

Crafting a business plan for your serviced accommodation venture? It's like building a sturdy boat before setting sail. Start with an executive summary – a snapshot of your business. Follow up with a detailed company description, laying out your structure, ownership, and the kind of accommodation wonderland you’re offering. Dive into market analysis – understanding your industry, target market, and competitors. Don't forget the backbone of your business – the organisational structure and the brains behind the operations. Detail your serviced accommodation and any extra services in the services/products section. Then, chart your course with a marketing and sales strategy. Lastly, the treasure chest – financial projections including income, expenses, and expected profits.

3. Systemisation and Scaling

Think of systemising your business as setting up a well-oiled machine. It's about creating processes and systems for smooth sailing. You could opt for property management software, hire a management company, or outsource some tasks to keep things ticking over like clockwork.

And then there's scaling – the art of growing your empire. This could mean reinvesting your hard-earned profits into new properties, finding investors to join your voyage, or getting creative with strategies like rent-to-rent. It's about spreading your wings, or in this case, your properties, to new horizons.

Examples and Case Studies

1. Diverse Examples of Serviced Accommodations

Welcome to the world of serviced accommodations, where variety is truly the spice of life. Picture the classic hotel – it's like the Swiss Army knife of accommodations, equipped with everything from housekeeping to room service. Then there are the charming guesthouses and B&Bs, where you get a dollop of personal touch and wake up to a scrumptious breakfast. For the business traveller, corporate accommodation is the ticket, offering all the mod-cons of home in a nifty package. And let's not forget extended stay hotels – think of them as your home-away-from-home, complete with kitchenettes and cosy work areas.

2. Non-Serviced Accommodations

Now, let's take a detour into the realm of non-serviced accommodations. Fancy a quaint cottage in the countryside? It's the perfect place for a serene getaway. Apartments offer the privacy and space you crave, away from the buzz of hotel life. For the nomads, caravans are your moving castle, taking comfort wherever you roam. And for the outdoor enthusiasts, pitching a tent, yurt, or tepee offers an unforgettable experience under the stars.

3. Case study: Adrian Gomez's Leap to Freedom

Meet Adrian Gomez, a Londoner with Colombian roots, whose adventure from the grind to glory is as heartwarming as it is inspiring. Think of Adrian's story as your favourite feel-good movie—complete with struggles, triumphs, and a dash of fairy dust provided by none other than Houst, the superhero of serviced accommodation.

The Challenge: Starting From Scratch

Imagine trying to jump into the property game with nothing but dreams and determination. That was Adrian. No property mogul ancestors, no secret treasure maps—just a burning desire to do right by his family and prove that hard work pays off. It's the classic underdog setup.

The Game-Changer: Houst to the Rescue

Enter Houst, not on a white horse but pretty close. Picture a team of friendly wizards ready to share their magic spells for managing serviced apartments. Houst wasn't just a company to Adrian; it was like finding a long-lost family who also happened to be ace at boosting your property game. From zero to hero, Adrian went from dreaming about properties to owning nine in just three months. Talk about a plot twist!

The Sweet Spot: Life, Upgraded

But here's the kicker: Adrian's win wasn't just about adding keys to his keychain. It was about unlocking a lifestyle where work didn't drown out family laughs and personal passions. Thanks to Houst's all-around support, Adrian could focus on the juicy bits of life—dreams, days out, and downtime.

The Moral of the Story

Adrian's tale is like a warm reminder that with a sprinkle of trust, a pinch of courage, and the right gang by your side (shoutout to Houst), the recipe for a fulfilling life and career is totally within reach. Whether you're a property newbie or just someone craving a life less ordinary, Adrian's journey whispers, "Hey, why not you?"

So, grab a cuppa, and let Adrian's story tickle your ambition. It's not just about buildings and bucks; it's about building a life you love. Cheers to that, and remember, in the world of property and beyond, finding your tribe makes all the difference.

A London based serviced accommodation property recently photographed by the Houst professional Airbnb photography team.
A London based serviced accommodation property recently photographed by the Houst professional Airbnb photography team.

Financial Aspects of Serviced Accommodation

1. Navigating Mortgages and Financing

Diving into the world of serviced accommodation means getting cosy with the nitty-gritty of mortgages and financing. A serviced accommodation mortgage isn't your garden-variety loan. It's a bit more special, tailored for commercial investors eyeing properties for short-term letting. 

Think of it like financing a mini-hotel – the property needs to be sparkling clean for each guest, complete with those little touches like fresh tea and coffee. While these mortgages are gaining popularity, they're not always in the lineup at traditional banks. This calls for some expert advice to navigate these financial waters.

2. Analysing Mortgage Rates and Terms

Selecting the perfect mortgage for your serviced accommodation is a bit like matchmaking. It's all about finding the right fit in terms of rates and terms. Be prepared for a twist though – these mortgages often come with higher interest rates and heftier deposits than your standard ones. 

When applying, it’s not just about convincing the lender that you’ve got a viable business plan. They'll want to peek at your personal income and make sure the property is cut out for a life of serviced splendour.

3. Investment Potential and ROI

Now, let's talk about the exciting part – the potential return on your investment (ROI). Serviced accommodations can be like little gold mines, often generating higher yields than traditional property investments. Thanks to the higher turnover of short-term tenants, your rental income could be humming a happy tune. 

But, it’s not all smooth sailing. Your income is hitched to the tourism bandwagon, so if tourism hits a bump, so might your returns. Before you dive in, do your homework. Crunch those numbers, factoring in everything from acquisition costs to the nitty-gritty of maintenance and management fees. It's about painting the whole financial picture to see if your investment is set to be a star performer.

A couple standing at reception and checking into a serviced accommodation.

Legal and Contractual Considerations

1. Drafting and Understanding Contracts

When it comes to serviced accommodation, getting the contract right is as important as a sturdy foundation in a building. It's the legal tie that binds the property owner and the guest, laying out the rules of the game. This contract should cover everything from the tenancy duration (when the guest can check in and must check out) to the rent details (how much, when it's due, and the consequences of late payments). 

Here are some key elements that might be included in a serviced accommodation contract:

  • Duration of Tenancy: The agreement would specify the start and end date of the lease.
  • Rent and Payment Terms: Details about the rent amount, when it is due, and any penalties for late payment.
  • Property Description: A detailed description of the property, including its location, size, and any unique features.
  • House Rules: Guidelines for the use of the property, such as noise restrictions, pet policies, and smoking rules.
  • Cancellation Policy: The terms under which a booking can be cancelled, including any penalties or refunds.

Don't forget to include a meticulous description of the property – its location, size, and any features that make it stand out. House rules are also key; think noise restrictions, pet policies, and smoking rules. And lastly, the cancellation policy – the exit plan for both parties if plans change.

2. Legal Requirements and Compliance

Navigating the legal landscape of serviced accommodation is a bit like a game of Monopoly – you need to know the rules to play well. First off, check if your property is zoned correctly for short-term rentals. Some UK areas have specific planning regulations that could throw a spanner in the works. Then there's licensing and safety regulations – these can vary between local authorities, so it's essential to know what's required in your area. If you're offering any catering, remember food safety regulations. And let's not forget about maintaining high health and hygiene standards – your guests' well-being is paramount. In this industry, cleanliness and safety aren't just niceties; they're necessities.

Here are some key areas to consider:

  • Planning Permission and Change of Use: Before establishing a serviced accommodation business, hosts must determine if their property is suitable for such use. Some areas in the UK have specific planning regulations that dictate whether a property can be used for short-term rentals.
  • Licensing and Safety Regulations: In certain parts of the UK, hosts are required to obtain a license to operate serviced accommodation legally. The regulations may differ between local authorities, so it is essential to check the specific requirements in your area. Additionally, hosts must comply with safety regulations to ensure the well-being of guests.
  • Health and Hygiene Standards: Maintaining high health and hygiene standards is crucial in the serviced accommodation industry. Hosts must comply with food safety regulations if they provide catering services. Additionally, properties should meet cleanliness standards, provide adequate waste disposal facilities, and maintain a safe and healthy environment for guests.

Remember, legal requirements can be as varied as British weather, depending on your location and property type. Seeking professional advice isn't just wise; it's a must to ensure your business is on the right side of the law.

Photograph of a few apartment buildings signifying the growing trend in serviced accommodations.

Insurance and Risk Management

1. Insurance Types and Necessities

Navigating the waters of serviced accommodation requires a sturdy insurance lifejacket. It's not just about protecting your property; it's about safeguarding your livelihood as a landlord. Here's a peek at what a comprehensive serviced accommodation insurance policy usually covers:

  • Buildings Cover: Like a safety net for your property, it covers rebuild or repair costs following events like fires or storms.
  • Contents Cover: Protects the contents and guests’ belongings, ensuring peace of mind for all.
  • Public Liability: Offers a whopping £5 million cover for any injuries or property damage connected to your business activities.
  • Loss of Rent and Alternative Accommodation Cover: A backup plan for when your property becomes uninhabitable, covering lost rent and providing alternative accommodation.

2. Risk Management Strategies

Keeping your serviced accommodation shipshape involves more than just a good lick of paint. It's about strategic thinking and smart management. Here are some best practices:

  • Thorough Market Research: Understand the market to pinpoint risks and seize opportunities.
  • Property Due Diligence: A deep dive inspection of your property can unearth potential problems before they become financial sinkholes.
  • Financial Planning: Keep your numbers in check with savvy budgeting and financial management.
  • Property Management: Effective management minimises property damage and handles tenant-related issues with finesse.
  • Law Compliance: Stay on the right side of the law to avoid costly legal entanglements.
  • Risk Diversification: Spread your investments across different property types or locations to balance risk.
  • Professional Help and Education: Never underestimate the power of expert advice and staying informed. It's like having a compass in the ever-changing landscape of serviced accommodation.

A London based serviced accommodation property recently photographed by the Houst professional Airbnb photography team.
A London based serviced accommodation property recently photographed by the Houst professional Airbnb photography team.

Technology and Tools for Serviced Accommodation

1. Channel Managers and Software

In the bustling world of serviced accommodation, technology is the maestro orchestrating your business's symphony. The integration of tech solutions, like channel managers, is no longer a luxury – it's a necessity. These savvy tools streamline your operations, cut down costs, and polish the guest experience to a shine.

  • Serviced Accommodation Channel Manager: Picture a digital spider web, connecting your availability and pricing across various online travel agents (OTAs) and distribution channels. It's your shield against the dreaded overbooking and your wand for managing multiple listings effortlessly.
  • Key Features to Look For: What makes a channel manager stand out? It’s about real-time syncing with your booking system, dynamic pricing, and insights into where your bookings are coming from.
  • Top Picks in the UK: Names like Beds24, MyAllocator, and SiteMinder are the frontrunners. They ensure your accommodation is booked but never double-booked, and that you're getting top dollar for your spaces.

2. Selecting the Right Tools

Choosing the right tech tools for your serviced accommodation business is like fitting pieces into a puzzle – they need to match your needs perfectly.

  • Property Management System (PMS): This is your central control panel, helping you juggle bookings, guest communication, and financial reporting. Think of Kigo, BookingSync, and Hostaway – these are some of the big players in the UK market.
  • Smart Locks: Say goodbye to the hassle of key exchanges. Smart locks let guests in with a digital code or a tap on their smartphone, streamlining check-in and beefing up security.
  • Revenue Management Tools: These are your financial forecasters. Using algorithms and data analytics, they predict demand trends and tweak pricing in real-time. Stars in this field include Price Labs, Beyond Pricing, and Rentals United.

In the end, the right technology solutions are like a bespoke suit for your business – they fit just right, making your operations smoother and more profitable. It's all about picking the tools that align with your business's heartbeat, ensuring every part of your serviced accommodation sings in harmony.

Conclusion and Future Outlook

1. Summarising Key Points

And just like that, we've reached the end of our journey through the enchanting world of serviced accommodation. Let's take a moment to reminisce about the key takeaways:

  • Understanding the Basics: We delved into the essence of serviced accommodation, exploring its meaning and the importance it holds in today's market.
  • Management and Planning: We uncovered the intricacies of managing these properties, from handling day-to-day operations to navigating legal and financial nuances.
  • The Diversity of Accommodations: Our adventure highlighted the variety available, from luxurious serviced apartments to quaint, non-serviced cottages.
  • Tech Tools and Trends: We embraced the digital age, exploring how technology can streamline operations and enhance guest experiences.

2. Future Trends and Predictions

As we gaze into the crystal ball of serviced accommodation, a few trends seem to shimmer on the horizon:

  • Technological Integration: Expect more advanced tech solutions to become integral in managing and enhancing guest experiences.
  • Market Expansion: The sector is poised for growth, with a surge in demand for varied accommodation options that cater to different traveller preferences.
  • Sustainability Focus: A rising trend towards eco-friendly and sustainable practices in the hospitality industry could shape future serviced accommodations.

3. Closing Thoughts

This guide has been your compass through the dynamic landscape of serviced accommodation. But remember, the journey doesn't end here. Use this treasure trove of insights as a springboard to dive deeper into the world of serviced accommodation. Whether you're a seasoned investor, a budding entrepreneur, or simply a curious soul, there's always more to explore, more to learn, and more opportunities to seize. So go forth, armed with knowledge and an adventurous spirit, and make your mark in the ever-evolving realm of serviced accommodation.

The Insider @ Houst

The Insider @ Houst

The Insider team at Houst is dedicated to providing up-to-date and relevant information on short-term rentals. If you have hosting inquiries, please write to us at For guest inquiries, reach out at We are here to help you navigate the world of short lets and look forward to assisting you with your needs.

The Insider @ Houst

The Insider @ Houst

The Insider team at Houst is dedicated to providing up-to-date and relevant information on short-term rentals. If you have hosting inquiries, please write to us at For guest inquiries, reach out at We are here to help you navigate the world of short lets and look forward to assisting you with your needs.

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