Harry Hill appointed chairman of start-up Lavanda

12 Apr 2017

Harry Hill, the founder of Rightmove and ex-CEO of Countrywide, joined start-up Lavanda as chairman, the company announced on its blog.

Harry Hill, appointed chairman of start-up rental site Lavanda (photo from his LinkedIn page with thanks)

Lavanda launched in February this year, and aims to blend traditional letting with Airbnb-style short-term rentals. It claims it can increase rental yields for landlords by up to 10 percent, and enable tenants to make extra money by sub-letting – if they are away on holiday, for example.

Lavanda currently operates in London only. It aims to capture 10 percent of the London lettings market within the next five years.

The Lavanda blog post said: “Harry is a proptech pioneer who shares our deep belief in Lavanda’s disruptive potential. He’ll now play a key role in shaping our strategy and scaling the business.”

Hill said: “The future of residential property has the sharing economy at its heart, a truth that most traditional agents and property managers refuse to acknowledge. Lavanda is uniquely positioned to power that future, creating new value through luxury hospitality, proprietary technology and data”.

Lavanda says short-let ‘homesharing’ via sites such as Airbnb, is one of the capital’s fastest growing industries, but it claims that to date this is an activity that has largely been conducted in breach of planning permission and rules governing leases, mortgages and insurance policies.

“Although it is a segment of the market with huge disruptive potential, it has until now simply been evolving too quickly to entice landlords to engage more meaningfully,” said a statement from Lavanda when it launched.

The company offers a service which it says is new. It is called The Service Let, and entails Lavanda entering into a contract with the landlord, allowing Lavanda to manage the property and permitting sub-letting by the tenant.

“The Service Let entitles the long-term tenant to sub-let the property for up to 90 days in a calendar year — at the landlord’s discretion, but always compliant with local (at this stage London) planning restrictions,” said the firm.

For a monthly fee, tenants can take advantage of hotel-style services, such as housekeeping, luxury linen, branded toiletries, on-call handyman and a personal concierge service. A percentage of the revenue generated with these services are shared with the landlord.

Others in its 30-stong team include Sebastian Moritz as Head of Operations (formerly Director of Rooms at The London Edition) and James Robotham as Growth Manager (formerly Senior Negotiator at Knight Frank).

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Sarah Wray