Things to consider to make your holiday let a success

Posted by Linda Maclaughlan on 08 December 2015

There are so many reasons why you might be considering getting into the holiday let business.

Perhaps you’ve inherited a property, are having trouble selling up, or simply want to make a bit of extra income. Whatever the reason, there’s certainly a lot to think about!

In fact, many potential clients who have asked me for advice over the years simply haven’t been prepared when I reel off the list of things to take care of when first turning their property into a holiday let.

That’s why I thought there was a real call for this blog post. So, without further ado, here are 10 questions to ask yourself before starting your holiday let business.

1. Would your property make a good holiday let?

The first thing to consider is if your property would actually make a good holiday let. Try to think about it objectively; would someone really want to pay to take a holiday there?

A lot of the time, this more depends on the location and surrounding area, rather than the state of the property itself. For instance, perhaps your property is conveniently located near the beach, or a natural beauty hotspot? Alternatively, perhaps it’d make a fabulous city getaway.

Then there’s the logistics to consider. Do you have plenty of rooms in your property, or would it be worth considering an attic or garage conversion? Is it suitable for young families or better for a retired couple? Do you have adequate parking in the area?

All of these things and more may be of interest to potential guests, and some could be major selling points.

2. Are you prepared to put the effort in?

I usually tell people that the holiday letting business (and it IS a business) is not for the faint of heart. You have to be prepared to put a lot of energy in, as well as dealing with any problems if and when they arise.

Will you be there to welcome guests, or simply leave the keys in a locker with a handy pin code? Who will clean the property between guests? You may hire someone to manage your bookings, or you may decide to take on that responsibility yourself (more about that below).

3. Does your property meet safety regulations?

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This is incredibly important. If your property isn’t up to current safety standards and regulations, you will be breaking the law. You must carry out all the required gas and electrics checks, as well as conducting an annual fire risk assessment.

Your fire risk assessment sheet should be prominently displayed in your property, and you may wish to include it in your welcome pack/booklet.

For more information, take a look at my blog all about fire safety in the home. It includes advice on furnishings, open fires/log burners, and smoke alarms.

4. How will you take bookings?

Another major thing to consider is how you’re going to take all those lovely bookings and communicate with your guests. If you’re not very tech-savvy, you may consider using some of the more prominent holiday lettings websites that allow you to list your property for free (or for a small fee) rather than starting your own website.

Another alternative is to consider going with a holiday letting agency who will take care of all the day-to-day stuff for you (like bookings, cleaning and communicating with guests) so all you need to worry about it collecting your monthly cheque. They might even help you write an attractive listing to get the attention of potential guests!

I find it’s a very personal choice, and really depends on how hands-on you want to be with your holiday let.

5. Is your property child-friendly?

Holiday lets can be ideal for families, but it’s always wise to mention in your listing whether your property is particularly welcoming to children (or not). For instance, if you have a pond or swimming pool in your property, it might be wise just to mention supervision is advised.

For young children, you may wish to provide a cot, high-chair and changing facilities to make families feel really at home. If you aren’t prepared to provide these, you should probably mention so in your listing.

6. Do you need to redecorate?

If you want your guests to spend their hard-earned cash staying at your property, you’ll have to ensure it looks the business. Especially if your kitchen, bathroom or spare room is looking particularly sad, you may find they’d benefit from a lick of paint and a bit of redecorating.

Accidents do happen (particularly if you’ve got children or pets staying), so if you decide to invest in new furniture, try to opt for sturdy yet stylish, so at least then they’ll last a few years.

7. How much will you charge guests to stay?

Another important thing to consider is how much you will be charging your guests. Are you looking to simply cover your costs, or make a nice tidy sum to supplement your income?

Once you’re up and running, it’s fairly easy to make money from your holiday let, but you also don’t want to scare prospective guests away with sky-high prices. Will you charge more during peak season? Don’t forget to keep your prices easy to find and understand.

8. What should you provide for a comfortable stay?

Sometimes it’s the little things that count, so it’s good to make a list of all the things your guests are probably going to expect when staying at your holiday let. Amongst other things, they will probably need: fresh towels, a working hairdryer, an iron (and ironing board!), washing up liquid, soap, dishwasher tablets and laundry tablets.

How will you welcome your guests? I always find it’s nice to go that extra mile and provide them with a welcome basket or lovely bottle of wine. You may want to include a few of the basics, such as tea bags, milk, bread and butter. These simple things go a long way to making someone feel at home. A hand written personal note is always received well with my guests.

And don’t forget to include a booklet that includes all they need to know about the property/surrounding area! Otherwise you may get phonecalls asking about the wifi password or how to switch on the heating.

9. What about the tax implications?

If you’re going to turn your property into a holiday let, you must be prepared to declare any extra income you make to the Inland Revenue. Saying that, you may still be able to offset some of the cost you’ve paid for any refurbishments you’ve made to the property for the purpose of this business.

Many of my clients actually find it easier to hire an accountant that can keep track of their taxes, so at least that’s one thing they don’t have to worry about.

TIP: It’s worth noting here that you will also require holiday let insurance and may need to inform your mortgage lender (if applicable) of your intentions to use the property as a holiday let – you may have to pay a slightly higher mortgage rate.

10. Will you accept pets?

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Finally, this last one really comes down to personal taste. A recent poll conducted by Travel Supermarket revealed that two of 5 in the UK now take their pets on holiday, so there are definitely plus points if you’re willing to allow pets into your property.

However, it could also mean a more intensive cleaning job afterwards, as no-one wants to go on holiday to find dog hair all over the cushions and furnishings. If you do accept pets in your holiday let, you may want to establish some ground rules (such as no pets on the beds!), whereas some just feel safer not permitting pets to stay at all. If you do accept pets do it whole heartedly – leave a water bowl or old towels and maybe some tasty pet treats for them.

Conclusion

People find themselves getting into the holiday let business for so many different reasons, although when they first start out, not everyone considers the reality of the work involved.

Many of my potential clients ask me for advice, and are surprised by the amount of things they haven’t yet considered – which is why I’ve put together the above blog post.

10 questions to ask yourself include:

  1. Would your property make a good holiday let?
  2. Are you prepared to put the effort in?
  3. Does your property meet safety regulations?
  4. How will you take bookings?
  5. Is your property child-friendly?
  6. Do you need to redecorate?
  7. How much will you charge guests to stay?
  8. What should you provide for a comfortable stay?
  9. What about tax implications?
  10. Will you accept pets?

Once you’ve considered everything above, it’s time to start getting your property holiday let-ready! We wish you the best of luck.

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