Spring checklist for holiday lets
For many holiday let owners spring is the perfect opportunity to prepare for the year ahead, before the influx of guests arrive. Although many aspects of letting a holiday property can be predicted (booking trends, what will need replacing/go wrong) there is always the unexpected that challenge owners.
With this in mind there are some steps owners can take to prepare for these challenges.
Winters are especially harsh for UK holiday homes, with many areas experiencing freezing temperatures, snow, flooding and storms. Spring is the perfect opportunity to carry out some essential property maintenance and inspected your property for damage.
Time to redecorate - sticky hand prints, scuff marks from suitcases, shoe prints on walls, many properties will need painting (or touching up) regularly to keep your home fresh, warm and welcoming for guests. Create a neutral style that appeals to everyone, but accessorise with colour. Opt for quality, durable furnishings that will stand the test of time – buy cheap, buy twice. Here are more ideas on Interior design for holiday lets.
- Check that all your appliances are working properly - air-conditioning, heating systems, TV’s, wifi, kitchen appliances etc.
- Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
- It’s useful to have an inventory list to cross-check, it’s surprising what goes missing from rentals. Without an inventory list you may not notice missing items, but guests may, leading to negative feedback.
- Make sure the outside of the house is well maintained - fix broken roof tiles, clear drains/gutters of leaves and debris, inspect gates, boundary walls and fencing for damage.
- Check for leaking pipes - the majority of leaks are easily spotted but there could be a leak underground, in the floor space. Tell tale signs of a leak may be that you notice lower pressure from your taps, or your water bill might show unusual high usage.
- Keep trees well pruned, remove dead/damaged branches and ensure they are clear of buildings and cables.
- Check for patches of mould or damp that may have appeared due to poor ventilation or water ingress.
- Replace grout and rubber sealant in bathrooms if they are stained.
- Inspect your outside furniture to ensure that it is fit for purpose.
- Do your carpets and curtains need a deep clean?
- Don’t forget to leave a supply of essentials for guests – cleaning supplies, spare batteries, light bulbs, first aid kit, torches and an emergency kit so guests can deal with basic problems.
- Annual safety checks - ensure gas, oil and electrical appliances are serviced annually by qualified engineers. Review your risk assessments and check appliances for signs of damage.
- Review your property security – installing security lights, new locks and even an alarm can deter burglars.
Review your marketing
Ideally you should be reviewing your marketing performance each month, but a 6/12 month review can give the bigger picture.
What did/didn’t work last year? Did you see any noticeable changes? (duration of stays, types of guests, discount requests, late bookings), what are your competitors doing? Are there any opportunities to target new niches? Invest your efforts on what performs best for you and don’t be afraid to cut back on what doesn’t.
How to stand out – add new facilities
What can you add to your holiday home to make the holidaymakers experience memorable one or get more bookings?
Log burners – are often a major draw for UK holidaymakers who envisage country walks and days out, to then return to a cosy cottage and relax by an open fire.
Jacuzzi/hot tubs can add a little bit of luxury to a holiday home – but require regular maintenance.
Internet – although guests are on holiday they still want to be able to get online. Internet connection is one of the most requested features when choosing a property.
Renovate – kitchens are the communal hub of a home. Could you develop yours into more of a living space? Consider adding another bathroom and bedroom to target extended families that travel together.
Update your photos
Eye tracking studies prove that people don’t read, they scan, and their eyes are immediately drawn to photos when looking at websites. Good quality photographs are essential – if yours are out of date or unappealing it’s time for a photo shoot.
Your photos should stir emotions so guests can picture themselves in your cottage - the glow of a log fire, the views of the mountains/sea, the property during a frosty sunrise, lambs on the fells, or a bbq on the terrace. Photos are a great way of showing what your property and its location have to offer.
Taking exceptional photos requires skill. I recommend hiring a professional photographer who has experience in photographing property. The small investment can generate multiple bookings.
Review your insurance
The very nature of holiday lets being left empty and the constant influx of guests means that they are exposed to loss and damage. In those instances when things do go wrong your insurance should give you peace of mind that your property, you and your guests are protected. Review your self catering insurance to ensure you are covered when letting out your holiday home. Some areas to check...
Security requirements - Check your insurance security requirements as some policies require specific types of locks and alarm to be fitted, or cover is invalidated. Also check if your insurance covers ‘theft by non-forcible entry’ if for example a guest left a door unlocked or someone used a ‘hidden’ key to gain entry and steal your contents – would you be covered?
Damage and theft by tenants - Destructive guests are rare, but letting your holiday home to strangers has associated risks. Ensure you are covered against accidental/malicious damage and theft by your tenants (holidaymakers). A damage deposit is a safety net against minor events, but isn’t a substitute for significant damage.
Public liability insurance for holiday letting – If someone was to injure themselves at your property they could hold you liable as the property owner. Ensure you have public liability insurance that covers court cost and associated legal fees in defending such claims. Also, ensure you have employers liability insurance to cover your liability for any harm suffered by an employee.
What would you do if your holiday let became uninhabitable and you had future bookings? Refunding the rental out of your own pocket will have a negative effect on your income. Ensure you are covered for loss of rental income should your holiday let become uninhabitable following an insured event; such as a fire or flood at the property. Note that most policies will only reimburse for any future confirmed bookings – not projected bookings.
The same applies in the event that the holiday home becomes uninhabitable whilst guests are staying there. A comprehensive letting policy should also provide alternative accommodation.
With staycations on the increase, the outlook looks promising for holiday lets. Spring is the perfect time re-evaluate and prepare your holiday let for the year ahead – hopefully it will be a successful one.