A trade body wants the government to ensure its latest lockdown grants cover short lets businesses.
The UK Short Term Accommodation Association claims that last year many companies in the short-term rental sector had their Coronavirus grant applications refused.
The STAA says this was due to technicalities over whether or not they could be classified as ‘hospitality businesses’ and meant many legitimate companies missed out on public money to compensate for the loss of trade.
The association claims the sector has the prospect of several weeks or months ahead without the ability to earn income because of Coronavirus restrictions
The STAA believes that any business which derives the majority of its revenue from managing short-term rentals should be considered a ‘hospitality business’ and should qualify for the grant scheme.
It believes this should apply regardless of whether a company is operating out of an office or a High Street outlet. Previously, eligibility was determined on the basis of what business rates are paid on the property where the guest stays, and, therefore, professional operators were excluded.
Many property management companies were apparently refused grants designed for hospitality companies because the premises that they occupy aren’t actually listed as ‘hospitality and retail’ premises.
Merilee Karr, STAA chair, says: “Whilst we recognise the need to initiate a national lockdown to help stem the spread of Covid-19 and welcome the Chancellor’s announcement of a new grant scheme, it is imperative that, this time, legitimate businesses do not miss out again on funding which could make or break their futures when the restrictions to trading explicitly include our sector.
“Everyone knows that short-term rental property management companies are an important part of the hospitality sector yet, despite this, the government guidance implemented by Local Authorities last year led to some of our members failing to get the grants or getting significantly reduced support.
“We cannot have a repeat of this situation now so the STAA would like the government and local authorities to make it absolutely clear that short-term rental businesses are included in this latest round of grants.
“The government has issued clarification regarding hotels and B&Bs but has not included short-term rental properties in that and, because the grants are awarded at the discretion of local authorities, it can lead to a situation where short-term rental companies could struggle to access grant funding. All we are asking for is a level playing field across the whole of the hospitality sector.”