£4.5bn a year up for grabs if Londoners rent out their homes

A total of £4.5 billion a year could be earned if Londoners were to rent out their homes when going on holiday, it was claimed today.

Homes in the capital are left empty for an average of two and a half weeks every year while owners are abroad or travelling for work, according to a Populus survey.

Families in the capital are now being chased by a new wave of companies that offer to find tenants while they are away, and even clean up afterwards.

Merilee Karr, founder of UnderTheDoormat, one of the new sharing economy start-ups in the capital, said: “There are over 600,000 homes in London that sit empty for four or more weeks each year, and over 100,000 homes are empty for 10 weeks or more.

“There is a huge opportunity for homeowners to make some money from their most valuable asset while they are away, and companies like UnderTheDoormat enable to do this by taking care of everything.”

Airbnb, which lists two million properties worldwide, reckons many Londoners could rent out a spare room for up to £344 a week.

UnderTheDoormat aims to go further by organising professional cleaners, fresh linen and insurance before guests arrive, and to clean up afterwards, freeing the owner to take a break. The firm has organised 630 visitors to London since launching 18 months ago and is crowdfunding to expand.