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How to start your own holiday let

How to start your own holiday let

The holiday let business is going from strength to strength. The standard of holiday lets has gone up considerably over the past few years and more and more people are choosing holiday lets instead of hotels for their holiday accommodation.

Gone are the days of 80s decor, scratchy blankets and old Constable prints on the wall..the new breed of holiday let is out there and the demand for them is high. For families a holiday let gives them space, privacy and is far more affordable and practical than staying in a hotel. If you have a holiday let with a stylish interior pitched at the right price and with good marketing you cannot fail to get it booked out. So, perhaps you have some money to invest in a property and you’re thinking of a holiday let. The bonus is that you can, of course, use it yourself.

Here are some things to consider.

Don’t let your heart rule your head

When choosing a property as a potential holiday let investment, the primary thing to remember is not to let your heart rule your head. Don’t fall in love with an area or a property without first investigating the holiday let market in that area. Are there local agencies that you can use to help you manage the property? Will it be easy to find a housekeeper and maintenance team? What is the rental rates for holiday lets in that area? This is all very obvious but if you want to get a good return it is crucial and something people sometimes overlook.

Location, location, location

Think about the market you are aiming for. Is this a city location? In the heart of the countryside? Will you have a weekend market or groups staying there? If so, you need to carefully consider your neighbours and the potential impact on them.

Also, very importantly, if your potential holiday let is an apartment, check the terms of the lease carefully to make sure you are allowed to rent it as a holiday let.

Ask for advice from anyone and everyone who knows. Research is key. Be aware that for estate agents their sale is their priority so don’t always take what they say at face value. They might not be the people to advise you about the holiday let market. Talk to people in the area who are doing it already.

First things to do

So, you’ve bought a property. You’ve researched the rental potential. You know there are local resources to help you manage the property. You’ve checked the area and the lease and you know which market it will be aimed at and the potential income. Next step…safety. Get a fire inspector round before you start decorating or building work. A fire inspector will advise you about the requirements needed when you have paying guests. Fire doors, fire alarms and fire walls etc…all crucial before you allow guests to stay. A fire risk assessment is a requirement. Keep your guests safe.

The fun bit?

Now to furnish and decorate your home from home. Again, think about the market you’re aiming for. Keep it practical. White sofas? No way. Cream carpet? Unwise. Designer paints? Great, but don’t forget that you might have to repaint certain walls quite frequently. Designer wallpaper? Yes, but keep rolls spare and don’t put it where luggage might rip it, like on stairways.
You want to achieve a stylish look that will stand the test of time and will appeal to different people. Leopard prints and pink neon might appeal to a fun hen party group but if corporate guests want to use the property they might not feel so comfortable!

Keep your budget in check. Yes, it needs to be stylish but always keep your finances in mind and consider how many bookings you will need before it starts paying for itself. There are great high street designers and shops for furnishings and accessories. Don’t buy everything from Ikea as it’s too well known and also make sure everything has a fire safety label. A cool retro sofa that’s been re-covered might look good but does it conform to current safety standards?

Make sure it’s practical. Enough seating for lounging and watching the television. Enough space at the dining table. Buy beds which are zip and link so that you can either have them as doubles or singles.

The first job to do is to get a phone line and broadband installed as there can be a wait for this. Every holiday let needs to have WiFi. Also, if you’re on a tight time frame make sure you order sofas and bigger pieces of furniture at the beginning as sometimes they can take two months or more to arrive.

Think about your housekeeper. If you have a white marble floor will your housekeeper have to spend hours to make sure it’s smear free. Too many accessories? It will take hours to dust. Also, venetian blinds and shutters look great but they can be a nightmare to keep dust free and your housekeeper only has a short time to do the change over clean.

Keep things simple too. Surround sound, fancy lighting and lots of gadgets might be cool but will your guests understand how to use simple appliances and use things without a technology degree?
Bedding. It goes without saying you need to offer a hotel standard, so mattress and pillow protectors are a must. With sheets and duvet covers be prepared to replace them frequently so expensive sets that can’t easily be replaced are not a good idea. I would suggest plain white bedding which is brought to life with throws and cushions. The same goes for towels..plain is best but not white.
Don’t buy expensive sets of plates and cutlery which can’t be replaced easily.

Marketing

It’s a competitive market so make sure your photos are professional. They need to show the property off but don’t try to be too arty and do close ups of taps and vases of flowers. Guests want to see the property and may think you’re trying to hide the truth with your artistic close ups. It’s worth paying for a professional photographer to take the photos for you. After such a huge investment it’s a small price to pay.

And finally

Before your first guest arrives you need holiday let insurance. Your contents insurance can be cancelled as it is not valid. Holiday let insurance is necessary for public liability and is an absolute necessity. It is fairly inexpensive and you will also have to inform your buildings insurer.

If you get it right, holiday lets can be a great investment and fun to do. Good luck!

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