Le Grand Depart: Make the most of exciting opportunity

Fireworks light up the sky above Leeds Town Hall in celebration of the Yorkshire Grand Depart Le Tour de France 2014.
Fireworks light up the sky above Leeds Town Hall in celebration of the Yorkshire Grand Depart Le Tour de France 2014.

With an estimated two to three million visitors set to pour into on Yorkshire to see the world’s biggest cycle race, those looking for accommodation could be in for a bumpy ride.

Hotels, guest houses and holiday lets are starting to book up and a shortage is forecast.

This supply and demand problem presents a golden opportunity for home owners who live on and close to the tour de France route.

Dee Marshall, of Welcome to Yorkshire, says she knows of one couple who have already let their Leeds city centre apartment for £2,000 a week to tour tourists.

“We have lot of enquiries from home owners who are thinking of letting their home or a room in their home.

“We are a tourism agency promoting established B&Bs and hotels, so we can’t help them but i think we can safely say that there will be a market. A lot of people don’t realise how big this event is going to be. It will undoubtedly become more dificult to ind somewhere to stay as time goes on.”

There is form for this sort of opportunistic let. When Ascot headed north to York in 2005, an entrepreneurial group of home owners started Ascot Lets, a website where owners could advertise their properties.

Since then websites such as Airbnb have capitalised on the desire to make money by letting a room or a whole home to holidaymakers and business travellers.

One of the beneits of letting through this online agency is that guests have to book and pay through the site before they arrive.

Owners create their own free listing and Airbnb takes £1 per booking per night from them plus a £3 administration charge from the guest.

Prices for rooms start from £25 per night, though bookings tied to big events can command a substantial premium.

If you are now hearing a loud “kerching”, don’t let it affect your senses. there could be tax and insurance issues to attend to before you usher cycling fans through the front door.

Vicky Watson, of Halifax home insurance, says: “Anyone considering letting out their home, or even just their spare room, on a short-term basis should let their home insurer know beforehand to ensure their policy remains valid.

“There may be some changes to the cover level for things like unforced burglary, so we’d recommend contacting your home insurer for advice.”

Tax consultant Rob Durrant-Walker, of Garbutt and Elliott, adds: “If you are going to make your own house available to Tour de France visitors for a few days don’t forget your income tax obligations.

“If you are letting a furnished room or floor in your own home, then income of up to £4,125 may be exempt under hMRC’s Rent-a-Room tax scheme so there is no need to declare it on a tax return.

“However, if you are letting your whole house then this isn’t Rent-a-Room and you may need to complete a tax return for that year.”

The McCabe family in York, who trade as Room at the top on Airbnb, let a top-floor bedroom, sitting room and bathroom to visitors from £23 a night.

Julia McCabe says: “We didn’t want a full-time lodger so this seemed like a good option. “We let under the rent-a-room tax scheme and it’s been a great success.

“It’s a bit of extra money and you get that paid into your account the day after the guest leaves. More importantly for us is that Airbnb is a community.

“We’ve met some amazing people from all over the world. We’ve had visitors from China, Argentina and America.”

She adds: “Most are busy seeing the sights so they tend to drop their bags off and we don’t see them much.

“We give them a key so they can come and go as they please. there is a lot of trust involved.

“There’s also a lot of cleaning and changing of beds. that’s really important as guests leave feedback on the site.”

The Grand Départ pushes off on July 5 in Leeds and the 190km stage one takes in ilkley, Skipton, Leyburn, Middleham and Ripon before ending in Harrogate. Stage two, on July 6, starts in York, taking in Haworth, Hebden Bridge and Huddersfield before ending in Sheffield.

If you fancy buying a property on the route in time for the tour, there are plenty of options, including a manor house in Bainbridge, near Hawes, up for auction with Robin Jessop on December 17 with a guide price of £250,000.