Starting Out – Some Basic Preparations
They are usually not onerous. Essentially, they show homeowners have given sensible thought and care before letting out their properties.
Homeowners need to attend to health and safety matters, these include attention to:
PAT testing of electrical items; checking furniture adheres to regulations; ensuring fire precautions are adequate and covering essential health and safety steps using risk assessment procedures. Provision of appropriate insurance is essential- this need not be costly; some home insurance policies offer this as an add-on but professional specialists in holiday let insurance are available and can often be the better choice.
Contrary to popular opinion, health and safety is a reasonable and sensible system and does not necessarily present a huge barrier to operations. We all have a duty towards our own health and safety as much as to that of other people.
The important thing is to seek and act to practically minimise or eliminate risk, whenever possible. Where it is impossible to minimise risk to acceptable levels, steps should be taken to ensure vulnerable people are either excluded or, in some other way, are protected from encountering those risks. The latter is, of course, much more preferable. Thus, for properties close to deep water pools, many holiday let owners explicitly say that children under a certain age are not permitted. A section on general health and safety advice is included at the base of this page.
Recent changes have created ‘Energy Performance Certificates’. The certificate is good for 10 years, does not cost a huge amount to acquire and can guide you to further insulate. However recent changes now say that if you let under a ‘licence to occupy’, and most holiday lets can fall into that category, an EPC will not be necessary. See useful suppliers, national agencies & regional agencies
Practical Operating Instructions
Be ready for some important things that you may have overlooked.
These are some of many ‘wrinkles’ and useful guidance. Please read through the other pages of advice to find out more.
One of the most important aspects of a holiday let is the requirement for parking. In the residential market in Herefordshire and Shropshire, a lack of a parking space, however good the rest of the property will, more often than not, block any successful sale.
This is relevant when considering a possible purchase of a holiday let…. although it is not as crucial as for residential properties, this is still an important aspect to consider, especially if there might be plans, one day, to convert use with appropriate permissions, to residential accommodation.
If a holiday let does not have its own parking, any owner should explain in depth the best plan for parking giving clear directions and information about the best location to park a car. Some owners in towns where parking is a serious issue, obtain permits to enable parking for guests. Parking is a surprisingly big issue for guests and even more so for considering the purchase of a holiday let. If it does not have parking, do not under estimate the significance.
ANOTHER STRANGE ‘WRINKLE’
Detail is all to get it right. Some details are more significant than others. Owners should keep a close eye on remote controls. These can easily be lost. Simple instructions about how to use them are very useful and it is important to test them regularly. Some children have been known to swap batteries to keep their personal gadgets going, so causing failure of the remotes. In one case, the owners had just replaced the batteries in the remotes and received a call from guests at 10 pm complaining that they could not use the television because the remote had broken down.
In that case, there was not alternative but for a good humoured visit to supply new batteries (always keep a stock) and all was well again.
Before starting it is worth preparing e-mail templates. There are several different sorts of message including:
Response to enquiry with more extensive information
Booking e-mail with form and terms attached. (Ideally in a slightly out of date Word format or similar because many people do not have the latest version).
Receipt of payment and Confirmation e-mail with directions and arrival information including full information of local contacts etc:.
Follow up e-mail after departure
Later marketing e-mail
NETWORK OF TRADES AND SUPPLIERS
If you have not built or created the holiday let but are buying one this is absolutely essential. Reliable people on site who you can call on are essential even if you live near-by. Using local people also increases local goodwill and helps protect your business.
KEEPING A STOCK OF EMERGENCY ITEMS
These can include: toilet rolls; a spare toilet seat; remote batteries; light bulbs; a spare bedside lamp; fuses; candles; electric oil radiators; some rope and jump leads, (ready for bad weather); a first aid box with plenty of plasters and bandages; an emergency tool kit, including the right sort of little screwdrivers for plugs, a hammer, an extension cable, etc:. It is highly likely that most of these will be of use at one time or another and having them handy will be a huge plus.
LINNEN AND BEDS
Aside from buying good quality high thread count cotton and avoiding patterns, if possible, some other tips include: using slightly different whites for different sizes of linen. Otherwise, sew a coloured tab to a corner and, when folding, try always to leave the tab exposed; the amount of time and bother this simple provision can save is remarkable. Try to standardise on a white for all beds of the same size as this reduces confusion when making them up and reduces necessary safety stocks a little so saving money. When buying beds, clearly try to buy the best quality mattresses you can because a good sleep is one of the key reasons why people return to the same cottage for another stay.. but it is also worth remembering that divans are easier beds to make and, if you can get mattresses that are light but do not compromise on quality, this again, will make changeover tasks that bit more easy. Divans can also be converted into a King or Super King size bed which is a critical plus for greater occupancy and flexible marketing; buying inflexible single beds with raves so they cannot be used this way is, perhaps, the single most costly easily avoidable error setting up new holiday lets.
These are the sort of details and significant factors that are covered in the advice pages but, as ever, the information will never be complete. We constantly work to keep things up to date.
It is essential to prepare to run your holiday let so that there are no surprises.