Film industry boosting short term lettings in prime locations

Landlords in London and the Home Counties have been cashing in with short term letting to the film industry, a new report has found.

The number of film related enquiries for short lets received by real estate firm Knight Frank in the year to May 2019 rose by 82% compared to the previous 12 month period. Furthermore, the average weekly budget for searches increased by 15% to £2,745.

It says that British film industry tax breaks and the weaker pound have produced a marked pick-up in activity in the luxury short term lettings market as more Hollywood stars rent homes in London and the Home Counties.

‘The uptick in demand has been matched by the fact more and more owners are open to the idea of renting out their property on a short term basis rather than leave it unoccupied,’ said Stevie Walmesley, head of luxury short lets at Knight Frank. ‘Plus, you tend to have considerate tenants in the film and TV industry who spend a lot of their time on set, which reduces wear and tear,’ he added.

Demand is strong across a number of different price brackets for production staff, crew and the actors, says Stevie, which means weekly rents can range from £750 to upwards of £30,000.

The Notting Hill and Holland Park neighbourhood of London remained the most in-demand area for film industry requests, accounting for 18% of all film and television-related enquiries. That was followed by Hampstead, Belsize Park and Richmond all at 9%, while Kensington was 8%.

The UK government has attempted to support the British film industry through corporation tax reliefs in recent years, which cover the film, high end television and video games industries. The tax reliefs, which require formal certification, delivered almost £8 billion to the UK economy and created 137,000 jobs in 2016 alone, according to the British Film Institute (BFI).

Some 26 films began production in the first three months of 2019, according to the BFI, which was one more than the same period in 2018. They included the Marvel superhero film Morbius, the third instalment of the Kingsmen series and a documentary called Chasing Chaplin.

British productions of high end television, which has minimum, spend conditions, increased more notably. The total spend was £248 million in the first quarter of 2019, which was a 62% increase from the same period in 2018, according to the BFI. Productions included Netflix fantasy Cursed and a Sky TV political thriller called Cobra.

Meanwhile, the weakening pound since the European Union referendum has made the UK even more attractive for overseas capital. It weakened about 14% against the US dollar between June 2016 and June 2019.