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How to let and manage your holiday home
Letting out a holiday home can be an exciting business venture. But before you welcome your first group of staycationers, you’ll need to prepare your property for an inviting and relaxing stay. Plus, there are a few legal requirements you’ll need to think about before handing over the keys. So, let’s run through things you should know about letting out your holiday home.
Before we get into the details, here are our top tips:
- Assess your financials, especially a mortgage and insurance.
- Ensure your holiday home is well-furnished and presented.
- Make sure the property is well-equipped for guests.
- Consider the extra touches, such as tea, coffee, biscuits, and toiletries.
- Provide guests with information on the local area.
- Ensure the property is well-managed and clean.
- Reach more guests by advertising your holiday home online.
Can you let out your holiday home?
Not all properties can be let out as holiday homes. The requirements differ from typical buy-to-lets, so you’ll need to check the finer details first. Most important is getting permission from your mortgage lender. You’ll likely need a different mortgage for a holiday buy-to-let, and you should have explicit approval from your lender before inviting guests. You should also check with the local council first to discuss any planning permission issues.
Alongside that, holiday lets come with additional tax rules around how often the property is available or let each year. According to GOV.UK, the property must be available for 210 days a year and let for at least 105 days a year to qualify as a holiday home. In addition, single lets shouldn’t exceed 31 days. It must also be fully furnished with everything a holidaymaker may need.1
You may want to purchase suitable holiday home insurance to help protect you and your property. Many standard home insurance policies won’t cover you for hazards such as public liability claims or damage caused by guests. Some may even be void if you insure your property as a residential home but use it as a holiday let. That leaves you financially liable if things go wrong. So, you should ensure you have considered holiday let insurance for additional peace of mind and security.
How to set up your holiday home as a let
It can take much more than a lick of paint and a spare set of keys to set up a holiday home. There are many things to consider, from fixtures and fittings to managing guest arrival and checkout. Let’s explore these in more detail to help you set your holiday home up for success.
Holiday lets must be fully furnished with everything a guest would need. This includes beds, sofas, tables and chairs, wardrobes, drawers, and other essential pieces of furniture. It also includes kitchen appliances such as an oven, kettle, toaster, and perhaps a dishwasher. Although items like a dishwasher are more optional than essential, they’re a worthy addition and can make your property stand out.
While it can be tempting to choose cheaper products, it’s generally better to choose quality furnishings you know will last, especially with different guests staying. You should also consider neutral colours to cater for a wider variety of tastes—but be careful not to buy furniture that could stain easily. It’ll affect the overall aesthetic of your property, and stained furniture could quickly put potential guests off.
Choose furniture and decorations that are easy to clean for instance, opting for washable paints, solid floors rather than carpets, and removable furnishings covers. It’ll make it easier to maintain your home to a good standard and keep everything looking clean.
Finally, provide vacationers with everything they need to get comfortable. You want your holiday let to feel like a home from home, with a bit of added luxury. Make sure you have the following:
- Soft furnishings such as pillows, duvets, and throws
- Fresh linen and towels
- Toiletries such as soap, shampoo and conditioner, and body lotion
- Basic supplies, including tea, coffee, and milk
- Free Wi-Fi
Consider welcome hampers filled with goodies, board games and DVDs, speakers, coffee machines, or a BBQ. These extra touches will help you reach more guests and provide an enjoyable stay.
Smart home appliances
Smart home appliances such as locks, thermostats, video doorbells, and lights can be expensive, but they can be worth the investment. Although they’re not completely necessary, they can add a modern touch to your home. Plus, smart home security features can help guests feel safe while staying at your let.
Don’t forget about traditional security items to keep your home and guests secure, such as a key safe, a safe for personal belongings, and door locks. Having somewhere to secure their expensive personal items can be a massive plus for guests.
You should think about guest arrival and checkout, too. For example, if there’s a key safe they need access to, ask yourself how you’ll give guests access, how they should put keys back once they leave, and so on.
Health and safety
You’re responsible for ensuring your holiday let complies with health and safety requirements, especially regarding fire, gas and electrical appliances, and oil safety. For example, you’ll need sufficient smoke alarms, PAT testing, and an oil-safe certificate.
Guest arrival and checkout
Once everything is ready, it’s time to think about how you’ll welcome guests. Consider their arrival and what instructions they’ll need, especially how to enter your home and keep it secure. Then, think over need-to-know information you can put within a welcome pack, such as:
- Wi-Fi password
- How to use certain appliances like TVs or heating
- Details on the surrounding area and things to do, including restaurants, bars, local attractions, and walking routes
- House rules
- Parking instructions
- Emergency contact details
- Check out instructions
How to manage your holiday let
You might feel comfortable managing your holiday home yourself. But if it’s not your only let, or you live far away from the property, it might be worth getting a property manager.
You can outsource property managers via a company or agency, or hire an individual if you already have someone in mind. Property managers take care of the day-to-day running of your holiday let, which can include:
- Guest check-in and checkout
- Laundry and housekeeping
- Replacing amenities, such as soaps and toilet paper
- Home maintenance and repairs, including the garden
- Damage checks
- Removal of rubbish
- Marketing and administration
- Customer queries and guest support
- Emergency contact for guests
As you’d expect, using a property manager means additional costs, so you’ll need to consider this when calculating profits. Some even take a portion of your rental fee. Using a property manager can also result in less control over bookings, prices, and general house management. That said, property managers often have considerable marketing power and expertise to help you find guests—increasing the likelihood of bookings and helping you generate a healthy profit.
If you decide to manage the holiday let, ensure you have a regular maintenance schedule. This should include checking items like lightbulbs, appliances, kitchen utensils, furniture, and soft furnishings for wear and tear. Alongside this, you’ll need to carry out end-of-stay checks to look for damage, clean the house thoroughly, replenish toiletries and other necessities, and provide fresh linen.
Regardless of whether you take on the responsibility or not, you may still want suitable holiday let insurance. A property manager may check for damage and organise repairs, but you’ll still be liable to cover the cost. You may also be financially responsible for liability claims, accidents at your property, theft of belongings, and even key loss. At Intasure, we offer holiday let insurance, so you can help safeguard your rental against potentially costly risks, including theft, damage, and compensation claims.
How to advertise your holiday let
Advertising your holiday let can prove vital. Word of mouth only gets you so far, so without an effective online presence, it’s unlikely you’ll attract many guests. First, consider where you want to market your property, such as by building a website, using social media channels, or using platforms like Booking.com and Airbnb.
Next, you’ll need to write an engaging property description. Understanding who you’re marketing to is vital for reaching your target audience. Include details of what makes your property different, information on the local area, and the facilities you offer. And, of course, take plenty of high-quality photos alongside your listing.
Using platforms that allow for customer feedback is also essential. People will likely choose your property if it has good reviews, so leave space for testimonials. Be sure to check these regularly—feedback is a great way to spot opportunities for improvement.
Remember, building lasting relationships with your guests is just as crucial as securing their booking. If guests feel valued and looked after, they’ll want to return. Plus, you’ll probably benefit from some free marketing, because happy guests may recommend your property to their family and friends
The sole purpose of this article is to provide guidance on the issues covered. This article is not intended to give legal advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in this area. We make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein or in the links which were live at the date of publication. You should not act upon (or should refrain from acting upon) information in this publication without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited trading as Intasure accepts no liability for any inaccuracy, omission or mistake in this publication, nor will we be responsible for any loss which may be suffered as a result of any person relying on the information contained herein.