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A new partnership scheme has been launched by the short-term let industry to provide free accommodation to the capital’s NHS workers amid the Coronavirus pandemic.

Launched by UnderTheDoormat together with a number of partners who usually operate in the short term let market, the scheme, called NHS Homes, will provide free accommodation and additional services to NHS staff to enable them to stay near the hospitals they work in during the outbreak.

The schemes partners include:

  • UnderTheDoormat
  • Laundryheap
  • onefinestay
  • Homes & Villas by Marriott International Altido
  • LoveHomeSwap

They will work together to provide free accommodation, the delivery of clean linen and towels for the medical staff and amenities for guests.

UnderTheDoormat, a London based business that typically provides luxury short term rental accommodation in London, launched the original scheme.

According to reports, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a downturn in its bookings so it switched its attention to working with its customers and partners to open up homes that might otherwise sit empty over the period.

The high level of interest shown in the scheme led CEO, Merilee Karr, to turn this into an industry-wide solution, with the UK Short Term Accommodation Association (STAA) providing one point of contact for the NHS to access homes across many companies in the sector.

On the scheme, Karr, who also sits as Chair of the STAA, said that although the scheme has only been running for a couple of days, demand is outstripping supply. 

“We have had an overwhelming response and we need more homes to help more people across the country”, she said.

“We’re currently in the process of hosting staff who are working at a number of hospitals in London including the Royal London, King’s College, St Mary’s, Guy’s, St George’s, Charing Cross and Chelsea & Westminster.”

She added: “I am delighted that we are able to help the NHS key workers who literally put their lives on the line for us every day and it’s great to work together with other incredible companies from across the industry to set up this scheme. 

“We are speaking to companies and property portfolio owners to bring on more rooms and properties and the additional services that will make stays for NHS workers comfortable. 

“We want to get as many companies on board as possible to make this a truly industry-wide initiative.”

NHS staff are increasingly relocating to London to help deal with the demand of COVID-19 – some cases have also seen evictions by landlords out of fear of contracting the virus.

Lavina Liyanage, Chief Markets Officer – City Collection, onefinestay, said: “We feel it is so important that everyone does their part to support each other in these times of crisis. 

“Hospitality is in our DNA so in partnership with our homeowners, we are doing our bit to look after and support NHS Key Workers by opening up available homes for free. 

“It’s great that the industry is coming together as one for the common good and we hope to see more businesses pledge their support.”