Rental houses: Londoners rent houses to film crews


singing your house as a filming location can be lucrative and sometimes glamorous too. As mortgage rates, energy bills and the cost of everything rise, there’s an undeniable temptation to make money off your home and renting it out as a film location could net you up to £2,500 per day, with rates in London generally around £. 750-£1,000. But you’ll need some type of ownership and perspective to make it work.

A quick browse of London rental agency websites such as Fresh Locations and 1st Option shows a wide range of properties, from minimalist lofts to authentic family homes, but un-modernized properties and even total wrecks can be surprisingly popular. Directors can request the “texture”, which means lived-in or worn-out houses. Good news for anyone living in the 70s era while saving up for a renovation.

Addition to renovation fund

While many location homes are stylish but neutral, they certainly don’t have to be, as Kentaro Poteliakhoff’s four-bedroom Victorian home in Lower Clapton shows. Owner of interiors boutique Hackney Rooms (@rooms_e5), Poteliakhoff was once an assistant to legendary fashion designer Isabella Blow and created a joy-filled celebration of maximalism that appeals to clients looking for a level of personality difficult to recreate for one- off set.

Kentaro hosts between four and six shoots a year

/ Juliet Murphy

“I tend to get a lot of editorial work – Vogue India, Wonderland and Hia Magazine – and fashion shoots for brands like Monki, Lazy Oaf and Sister Jane,” says Poteliakhoff, who listed “Villa des Narcisses” (@villadesnarcisses), as he playfully calls it, for scouting work once it’s been completed to his satisfaction.

“I lived here for 17 years before it became a rental house. It certainly wasn’t done being a place in mind, just out of love for interiors and antiques. I thought it would be nice to see the space in shoots, but that was mostly to pay the bills.

He has around four to six shoots a year, grossing between £3,000 and £4,000. “It helps with renovations, new furniture and paying bills, but I would say don’t rely on income, enjoy it when it comes.”

Poteliakhoff is currently registered exclusively with JJ Locations, explaining “it’s easier to start like that with one agency”. Although scouts seek locations through other methods, including the good old door-to-door, a reputable agency will find suitable clients, handle the money, and sort out the all-important insurance. An agency will be in the owner’s corner if things go wrong or something is damaged.

With such a possession-filled spot, shots can be worrying for Poteliakhoff and his partner, Neil Buckingham. “It’s a lot of work to put it away enough to shoot, I move anything very valuable or fragile out of the way. We have two rooms that are not part of the location and we stack everything there. Even then, there are breakages and irresponsible behavior. “Normally I like to be at home most of the day, but on a set with an international fashion magazine I couldn’t be there and had to ask a friend to replace me. He thought it best to stay away and I came home to find they had removed my gold framed mirrors from the walls, pushed them into the flowerbeds for a picture and left them there . It can certainly be stressful at times.

Kentaro lived in the property for 17 years before renting it out for location shoots

/ Juliet Murphy

Indeed, having a rental home is not for everyone. Owners should be hospitable, flexible and unflappable. Having a crew tending to your home for a day or more is intrusive and the noise and extra vehicles can bother neighbors as well, although a quick letter notifying neighbors in advance can be very effective. Don’t think of the crew as your guests – better imagine they own the house for the day.

Kentaro advises owners to review the house rules at the start of filming, to make sure it’s clear to the client which rooms can’t be moved and which rooms aren’t part of the location. “It’s best to work from home in a room without a location if you have one, to keep an eye on things.”

This is good advice and it is advisable that the owners be contactable at all times – if not physically nearby then at least on the phone. However, it is also important not to hang around, to give your opinion on the scene to the director.

Pay the bills

As a commercial director himself, Mark Howard is able to empathize with his filming clients in his 1920s five-bedroom house in Cricklewood, which he shares with his wife, Lucy, and their three children.

“I understand the trials and tribulations of filming and the stress people go through. If anyone asks if they can put a light on the roof, I know it’s for a good reason.

The couple bought the house with the intention of expanding it, but it wasn’t until it was finished that they realized it could work as a location. “We had invested a lot of time and money and it was time for the house to give back.”

Mark and Lucy remodeled their home and then realized it could work as a place

/ Juliet Murphy

The house now receives around eight to 10 bookings a year, putting the couple in the range of £6,000-8,000. “We seem to be attracting ad shoots, we’ve been in ads for everything from cat food to breast pumps! The shoots are contributing to the recent exponential increase in the cost of running the place. But the income is stop- start, so we think of it as vacation money, it makes us feel better about the downsides.

The house has a clean, bright and contemporary look with a good balance of pale neutrals and warm woods, giving it a minimalist vibe despite the couple having three children, “Lucy does a great job of making it beautiful, but I have to admit that we are naturally obsessed with storage.

The couple take the chin wear. “The floors can be in heavy use during a big shoot, so protect them with plastic sheeting or film. But you have to accept that it’s disruptive; we tend to go out and wait for them to call and say they’re done and put everything back together. That way we don’t have to see the chaotic part. It’s also disruptive for our kids hanging out in cafes before and after school , then we use the proceeds of the shooting to offer them a gift or a good dinner.

Lucy and Mark recommend going through an agency

/ Juliet Murphy

The couple deposits their house exclusively with the Fresh Locations agency. “I would definitely recommend going through an agency,” says Howard. “Fresh really got to know us and always stepped up and worked out any issues.” Agencies charge a commission, usually around 20-30% – “It’s worth it for the peace of mind,” says Howard – and some also charge a listing or booking fee, so it’s worth Worth comparing prices. Many agencies will take a lower commission if you are represented exclusively by them – and that often means a closer relationship. This can be a good place to start, before branching out to other agencies once you have more experience.

Free Honeymoon

Claudia Costa-Rowse rents out her house in Hackney around once a month

/ Juliet Murphy

Many directors and photographers will want to scout to decide on the right location, often visiting a few locations. These usually take place at very short notice, often the same day, which can be stressful. Reconnaissances usually take about 15 minutes and do not pay a fee. As a result, Claudia Costa-Rowse strives to keep her three-bedroom Victorian house in Hackney tidy and organized at all times. “I have slightly accumulative tendencies, so having a rental home keeps me on the straight and narrow,” she says. “It means I’m better at storage and I don’t let shit pile up. And I invested in some storage benches that you can sweep all your personal clutter into.

The brand’s designer used to rent locations and use her own home for the shots ‘but it wasn’t until a photographer asked me how much I charged that the penny dropped and I realized I could make money out of it.” She and her husband, Ben, earned around £15,000 in their first year on the job through the 1st Option agency, averaging one shoot a month. She says this success is because “each piece has a slightly different aesthetic, so it tends to suit more people.”

Claudia credits her property’s popularity for filming to the fact that its rooms have a different aesthetic

/ Juliet Murphy

The couple were lucky that their longest booking coincided with their honeymoon and paid for it too. “We used the money from the last shoot to insulate the roof before winter. In the future, we hope this will help with more housekeeping; There’s always something to do. She enjoys seeing the house in commercials and independent films. “If you have a decent home and a flexible lifestyle, it’s a really easy way to earn good passive income.”

Seven Steps to a Successful Location

  • Greet the crew with fresh coffee and hot pastries – it helps get you started on the right foot.
  • Identify your point of contact and show them around the house before they start filming and walk around the house with them again at the end to identify any issues.
  • Keep a file of useful information, including all contact numbers, house rules and local cafe menus. Some locations include photos of each room to help teams put the house back together once they’re complete.
  • A cupboard with a good stock of teas, coffees, cups and plates means the crew won’t have to open all the galley doors and drawers – and free up space in the fridge for their lunch.
  • Clearly indicate which rooms are not part of the location house and which furniture cannot be moved, for example heavy cupboards.
  • Be aware of your neighbors, and not just in terms of attention. Noisy renovations can make filming in your home impossible.
  • Many high-traffic areas allow walls to be painted or wallpapered.

Top rental agencies in London

  • 1st Option (
  • Airspace locations (
  • Amazing Space (
  • Creative location (
  • Fresh Locations (
  • JJ Locations
  • Sumptuous pitches (
  • Light Locations (
  • Rental Collective (
  • Shootfactory (

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