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How to start holiday letting your property

It all sounds so simple, so obvious, such a brilliant idea - you can’t quite remember why you didn’t do it before. You can’t get to your holiday home every week of the year, and it seems a shame for it to go to waste when you’re not enjoying it. So, why not let it out? 

Then you start to think: What if something gets damaged? What is the right amount to charge? Is Airbnb or Vrbo too good to be true? All these things and more are important to consider when it comes to letting your holiday home, but getting the right answers will help to protect your property and make the most of it at the same time.

Highfield, Salcombe

1. Protecting your holiday home against accidents

Damage to your property is probably one of the biggest concerns that any homeowner has. However, you’re not alone and as a result there are best practices that you can follow to help prevent damage, keep on top of wear and tear, and make sure there’s a solution in place in case accidents happen - much like you would at your permanent home. 

Using a hosting service that protects you by taking a reasonable deposit at the point of booking is a solid way of ensuring that any damages are paid for. Some letting agencies have stopped taking deposits in the modern market as a way of attracting more bookings, but if a customer isn’t prepared to put down a deposit then something isn’t right. 

It’s also important to have insurance, but not just any insurance - dedicated holiday home insurance to the right specification and levels your property needs. It’s as important to make sure that you have enough cover as it is checking that you’re not paying over and beyond your needs. Having the right industry expert to advise will make sure you’re spending only what you need to.

2. Make it individual, not personal

We’ve all watched those DIY shows where people trying to sell their properties are told to paint the walls white and remove family photos. Well, we’re not here to tell you that exactly. Individuality and a sense of character can be the making of a holiday home. However, there is a difference between individuality and being too personal. When letting your holiday home, you should always make sure it’s somewhere you feel happy, but you also want your guests to feel welcome. 

It’s important that when they’re looking at the photos on your listing, they can envisage their own happy memories in the space, and that the property reflects those expectations when they arrive. Furthermore, in a post-Covid world every item needs to be thoroughly cleaned after each guest leaves. The more there is to scour, the more expensive the cleaning bill. Decluttering by removing countertop photos and an excess of ornaments is a good way of helping to keep the property Covid secure and keeping cleaning costs down.

3. Making sure your property is legally compliant 

It is really important to make sure your holiday home is legally compliant before having guests to stay. Most reputable holiday letting agencies and hosts would not agree to start promoting your property to guests until these things are done. However, unlike managing your own Airbnb or Vrbo account, having the help of a host means that they will help guide you through the process and check you have everything you need. For example, you will need up-to-date gas and electrical safety certificates, regularly tested carbon monoxide detectors, and you will need to undertake a fire risk assessment. Some of these things can be overwhelming but it’s simply not worth the risk not to do them. It’s not actually as daunting as it sounds and the right host will help you every step of the way.

3. Staying on top of the admin 

The administrative side of letting your holiday home is often overlooked until homeowners find hours of their day taken up with guest enquiries, financial management and general paperwork. In addition to the administration that comes from getting bookings, making them and following the guest through to the time they leave, if your property is a runaway success you may find yourself needing to become VAT registered. 

Then there’s staying on top of price trends, seasonal changes and any events that may impact bookings. This is one of the key reasons that holiday home owners engage a host to help them with their online listing. It’s not a question of whether or not you can manage it yourself, it’s a question of whether it’s the best use of your time with all your other life and work commitments?

4. Responsible waste management 

In effect, letting your holiday home turns your property into a small business, even if you only let it for a few weeks of the year. The presence of more people, more of the time, creates waste so as with any business, those who let their holiday homes need to have a contract with a commercial waste removal company. 

This is one of the lesser known costs that you need to factor in when considering the potential revenue from your property. As with all things, it’s not difficult to organise when you know how and when someone else has done the research to find the best rates!

5. Cost-effective marketing 

Where and how you advertise your property will be one of the biggest influencers in your return on investment. For example, mainstream agents typically command between 16% and 32% and do everything for you, while an online travel agent like Airbnb or Vrbo charge 3% to 4%, but leave all the operational leg work to you.  That’s why so many are opting for an online travel agent combined with a professional host for a total commission of 13 to 14% including the online travel agent fees.  Using that formula, our clients have had great success letting their properties. For example, some of those listed within the last 30 days have benefitted from exceptional demand, generating £35,000 and £38,000 revenue."

It’s important to remember that different platforms suit different people, depending on your expectations of your property and the type of property you have to offer. Flexibility for your personal use as well as price points are both big influencers in choosing the right marketing solution for you. Most people want their property to remain their own rather than being effectively handed over to an agent for 30+ weeks of the year and limiting their personal use, but neither do they want all their weekends to be dominated by doing financial admin for their holiday home.

Find out if HolidayHost is the right solution for your holiday home by contacting us any time.