| Kuznetsova: Flat for a fee
London, June 13: The taxman will be mingling with the crowds at Wimbledon this year in search of homeowners who rent out their properties for thousands of pounds but fail to declare the earnings.
A leading firm of accountants estimates that revenue and customs could net more than '500,000 from families who give up their houses to players and fans for the duration of the championships.
Geraint Jones, tax adviser at Blick Rothenberg, said: “Every year many Wimbledon residents jump on the tennis bandwagon to make some extra cash. It ranges from renting a room, a parking space, selling strawberries and cream, allowing souvenir sellers a pitch in the front garden, to moving out for the two-week tournament and renting out the house.
This year Wimbledon properties are being rented from '900 a week for a one-bedroomed apartment to '6,000 a week for a five-bedroomed house. This all has to be declared to the revenue.”
Specialist agents are required to supply the revenue with a list of properties on their books.
Joanna Doniger runs Tennis London, a short-term rental firm that houses people during the championships. It organises about 150 rentals each year. “I know the revenue keeps a close eye on this market”.
Karen and David Champion live a little more than 300 yards from the Wimbledon grounds and can see the courts from their bedroom. They will spend the two weeks in Spain. For a weekly rent of '1,400, the Champions will this year be leaving their three-bedroomed house to an Australian family.
In the past, players have rented it, including the Russian-born Svetlana Kuznetsova. Karen, an investment banker, said: “Svetlana left our house in a bit of state; but Tennis London cleaned it and had everything ship-shape within three hours.”
Failure to declare earnings from Wimbledon can result in a fine and demands for back tax. The revenue department confirmed that tax officials in Wimbledon will be vigilant. A spokeswoman said: “Our advice is, don’t wait for us to come looking for you.”