Wellington couple perfected the art of short-term rentals - and changed their lives.

A longstanding interest in property has turned into a nice little earner for Wellington IT worker Giles Middleton.

He and partner Zoe Marsden are able to pay for things like overseas trips thanks to making the most of the demand for short-term rentals. They not only rent out investment property they own to holidaymakers and business travellers but also move out of their own home to accommodate visitors to the capital.

And when the couple, originally from the UK, travel back there with their son Dylan (11) for yearly visits, the trips are largely paid for by renting out their house while they are away.

"It works out really well for us," says Middleton. "Last time we went away, we rented it out for three weeks and got about $4500, which paid for our flights."


He also has a sideline business managing short-term rental properties for a handful of other people, using his expertise to help them earn extra income.

Property has been a passion for most of Middleton's life – he's a former property lawyer and also has an urban design degree. It's also in his blood – his great-grandfather was one of the originators of the modern-day mortgage and his mother was ahead of the times when she recognised the potential of converting derelict commercial buildings in the north of England into stunning homes.

Middleton and Marsden's foray into property started when they rented out a penthouse apartment they owned in Evans Bay, Wellington, after buying another home: "We had long-term tenants and got a decent rent but then the body corporate fee kept getting put up and the rates went up and the rent wasn't enough to cover everything," says Middleton.

Instead of cutting their losses and selling, they investigated short-term rentals, hoping the higher rates for shorter lets would cover their costs if they got enough bookings.

The apartment was a success as a short-term rental. They have since sold but now own other properties they let short-term, including the capital city's iconic Container House.

Designed and built by acclaimed industrial designer, Ross Stevens and made up of three vertically-stacked shipping containers, the quirky and stylish three-bedroom home is very popular as a holiday let following a top-to-toe makeover.

Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

"The Container House has been a creative outlet for us – it's like a giant art project. A lot of people watch those programmes like Grand Designs or George Clarke's Amazing Spaces and they like the idea of something different. We charge from $275 up to $350 a night so for a group of six, that can work out at $50 per person at most, so it's good value."

The properties he manages include apartments in the same Evans Bay complex as the one he used to own. His clients are often retirees using the income to pay for trips overseas.


Some of the properties he manages are being rented out to crew from the upcoming Avatar movies and he also has corporate clients in Wellington for conferences. School holidays are busy times and there's always a big demand during events like sports tournaments or WOW (World of Wearable Art), plus people looking for slightly longer short-term rentals while their own homes are being renovated.

Listing the properties with popular website Bookabach helps to get a steady stream of bookings, Middleton says. It is easy for potential renters to navigate and to find suitable properties and makes life easier for the property owners.

"The great thing about Bookabach is that they handle all the payments on your behalf, which makes things so much easier. You don't have to set up your own payment gateway. They also handle things like sending out reminders for payment and they have templates of emails to send out to clients. These things are really useful."

He realises not everyone is comfortable with letting out their own home to strangers but it is definitely worth considering if you're looking for extra income. His family have even gone to stay in a caravan for a few nights while renting out their house because it's worth the financial gain.

"You do have to de-clutter – we have an attic in our house so we put a lot of things up there when we rent it out. It also has to be very clean and you have to invest in things like good quality linen. But if you are prepared to do a bit of work, it can work out really well.

"As well as earning extra money, we also get a sense of pride out of doing it; it's great knowing you've helped someone to have an enjoyable stay."

Bookabach provides everything needed to rent out your property for the first time – an exclusive set of tools optimising pricing, bookings and communication, plus educational material on how to market your property to high-quality travellers. You'll also be eligible for $1m Liability Insurance cover for bookings accepted on the platform.

Click here to receive an instant estimate of your property's rental potential based on nearby comparable rentals. Bookabach is powered by the world class technology of HomeAway, a world leader in the holiday rental industry.