2012 saw an increase in property owners renting out their homes to people visiting for the Olympics. Since then this trend has continued with a good number of home owners in the UK, prepared to pack up their things and rent out their homes for a few weeks of the year.
“But, is it really worthwhile?” you may ask. For me personally, it’s not something I would consider. The thought of trying to pack up my personal belongings fills me with dread, as does the prospect of having strangers ‘living’ in my house and using my much loved possessions! However, for many it is an appealing thought, especially given the prospect of increasing their personal income by a few thousand pounds a year! As one such owner recently told me, they load up their travelling van with their personal things and the family set off on their travels for a few weeks each summer – something they all look forward to and are able to accommodate given their personal life-style and work commitments.
However, there are some areas to consider (apart from the obvious ones such as where you will live and storage for personal belongings). Here are a few things to think about:
- Is your property desirable enough to holiday let? The UK holiday market already has its fair share of holiday homes available for renting, so to successfully rent out your home for the summer season, it needs to have something special to offer. This brings us down to the old cliche ‘location, location, location’. If you have a cottage in a seaside resort or in an area popular with tourists, then you stand a good chance of renting it out, providing all the other aspects of the cottage are also appealing (such as appearance, facilities, furnishings etc).
- What type of guests do you want to attract? – If you are only renting your property out for a few weeks of the year, then it is unlikely you will want to change many facilities for such a short period. Give a little thought to the type of person your property is likely to easily attract and the type of guests you want to accommodate. If you have a stylish home with cream carpets and sofas, you may not wish to rent out to families with young boisterous children; and if you have a property with solid floors and an enclosed garden, you may decide to open your doors to dog owners. You have a choice, so it is worth deciding from the onset who your property best suits to ensure you don’t get excessive wear and tear and you manage customer expectations to ensure guest satisfaction.
- Advertising – You will need to list your property on holiday rental websites such as Independent Cottages and there will be associated fees for advertising. On the subject of advertising, it is also important that you ensure your property is accurately and appropriately advertised so that guests know exactly what they are getting. For example, many people renting a cottage would not expect to see any personal possessions (such as family photos or wardrobes full of clothes) so if you are planning on leaving some items in the property or having some areas ‘out of bounds’ and locked, then make sure this is highlighted in your advertising and guests are made aware of it before booking.
- Health and Safety – Once you rent out your property, you are technically a ‘landlord’ and will need to adhere to regulations and standards to ensure that your property is safe and legally compliant. For example, gas and/or electrical safety checks and Fire Safety Risk Assessment to name just a few. To find out more information about your responsibilities as a landlord click here.
- Mortgage consent – If you have a mortgage on the property you intend to rent, then you will require permission from your mortgage lender which may not always be granted or may come at a higher rate of interest!
- Specialist insurance – When renting out your property you will need to take out specialist holiday rental insurance cover (for example Schofields) to protect yourself and your property against the risks associated with being a landlord, along with providing necessary cover for ‘renters’, staff etc.
- Financial responsibilities – Be sure to declare your rental income on your tax return but you should be able to deduct day to day running expenses, so speak to your accountant to gain the full picture.
- Handling bookings – It is likely that you will be renting out the property yourself so you will need to handle enquiries and bookings (including payments) by email and phone in a timely manner. Consideration needs to be given to the administration process of handling bookings along with terms and conditions with agreement details and relevant information for holiday letting.
- Maintenance – If you plan to head off into the sun for a few weeks over the summer period then you will need to make arrangements for cleaning and general maintenance of the cottage whilst renting. Guests will also need to have a reliable point of contact during their stay in case they have any queries or problems.
If you do decide to dip your toe into the holiday rental market for a few weeks of the year, it certainly can be lucrative. But make sure you do your homework beforehand to establish if it is right for you, given what is involved. The above list just provides a few considerations and is by no means exhaustive!