The Covid-19 epidemic has tested everyone to adapt and change their businesses accordingly.
I’m no different. Having built up a large portfolio over the years, I diversified into short stay lets or Serviced Accommodation about 9 years ago. The main market is contractors working in the area either full time or Monday to Friday.

Quite a few left shortly before lockdown was announced but others stayed on.

When it was announced that all hotels had to close, I knew there was an opportunity to fill some empty properties.

I had been dealing with Redcar council over the years and helping them with short term accommodation for the homeless and domestic abuse section. Having properties in 6 different local authorities made me realise all councils must have the same issues.

I contacted most of them around the 26th March with various degrees of success.

Stockton called me within half an hour of my email and took 2 houses for a 3-month period. 

Durham initially took 2 ground floor apartments for wheelchair users as they said “At 11 o clock tomorrow morning the hotel is closing and they would be basically wheeled out into the street with nowhere to stay” Since then they have taken another of my houses for a vulnerable family.

In between dealing with the councils I had been accommodating a Spanish company working on a huge project in the Middlesbrough area. They thought they may have had to either send the men home or just stay in the houses. As it happened, they have continued to work. Not only that but they have brought in further workers. I did still have some empty houses but when they were full, I had a bit of a dilemma.

We had just finished converting a 3-bedroom house to a 4 bedroom with 2 additional bathrooms. The problem was getting it furnished. Luckily, we had started storing furniture in readiness of this. So, with a bit of organising (including me taking a delivery of a fridge freezer and washing machine at 7.15 am) we got it finished.

There was another house which had recently been decorated so I decided to do the same again. Beds were picked up by one of my guys, he also managed to move a 3-seater settee on his own. Another delivery of washing machine and cooker taken in by yours truly, again at stupid o clock on a Monday morning. It’s all done ready for the next contractors to arrive (whenever that might be).

Which leads me to my final story.

I agreed a lease option purchase for a house next door to a hotel I own in Seaton Carew about 5 years ago. It’s a large house over 5 floors. We tanked out the basement a couple of years ago but didn’t do anymore than that.
As nothing was happening and it was empty, I contacted a contractor friend of mine to see if he would like to do some work. 

He went to see it and agreed to start work after Easter.

Work is well under way. We are converting it to 9 bedrooms with 5 en-suites and 2 shared bathrooms. There are 4 of them working on it but working independently, painter, electrician, joiner and painter. When finished I’m looking to rent it out as full building rather than individual rooms (as that would require a change of use with planning) for around £200 per night.

The moral of the story, I guess, is to try and adapt and change as quickly as you can with the circumstances presented to you.

SA, in my opinion, will only get more popular once things start to return to normal. 

Why stay in a hotel when you can have all the comforts of home for the same price?

Yours Faithfully,

Duncan Belton

Nest Egg Homes

T: 01642 880030