How hard can it be turning your second home into a holiday home? After all it’s only a word change isn’t it?
Well, it’s not hard but there’s more to it than a word change! Before you can start earning from your second home, and operate it as a holiday let there are certain changes that need to be made. Here are those key changes.
Change #1: The way you think
How you think as the owner is crucial to how successful your holiday let will be. Once you make the decision to start taking paying guests you have to see yourself as a business owner. Every decision you make has to be made with what’s best for your business.
For example, when it was your holiday home, did you allow family and friends to stay for a tiny fee? Charging them just enough to cover your costs? As a business owner is this the right thing to do for your business? Your available weeks need to be sold at the highest possible rate. When you run a holiday let business full paying guests now take priority over friends and family.
Change #2: Practicalities
Storage– When only being used by yourselves, you could leave out your toiletries, leave your bedding on, leave non-perishable food in the kitchen cupboards, all ready for when you next returned. But of course this is no longer possible. You can still keep these items there for when next you visit, but you need to find lockable storage. Is there an under-stairs cupboard you could use or is there a lockable cupboard in the bedroom ? If not get one!
Cleaning – professional cleaning standards are now necessary, whereas previously a quick sweep around before departure would suffice. Running a holiday let means employing and managing a trusted local cleaner and/or housekeeper. Start your search with personal recommendations.
Preparation – of directions to send to guests, system for accessing the key and detailed instructions for how your holiday home’s appliances work. Take time to think these through and write them clearly in a document that you can either email to guests or place in the welcome folder at your holiday let.
Repairs – need to be up to date. No more “I’ll fix that next time we’re there” or no more knowing the handle on the front door is a bit stiff but it doesn’t matter as you know how to wiggle it to make it open. Get it fixed now before paying guests arrive, have a problem accessing your property and have to call you late at night to let you know!
Change #3: Legal stuff
Legal and tax issues differ depending on where you are. But generally any income earned from a holiday let is taxable and needs to be recorded as income. Expenses can be off-set against your income so log them thoroughly. Seek local advice and employ an accountant to ensure you adhere to any laws. In the UK you need and annual CP12 gas safety certificate if you have any gas appliances and although not (yet) the law it’s recommended to have a carbon monoxide detector in your property if you have gas appliances or burn fossil fuel, this includes log burners.
A Fire Safety Assessment needs to be carried out and written to explain to guests their escape route and what they should do in the event of a fire. Fire extinguishers and fire blankets need to be provided too. Check with your local fire safety officer.
Insurance policy – you’ll need to ensure your current second home policy covers you for taking paying guests.
Appliance warranties may become invalid once you operate as a holiday let so do check these out.
Change #4: Styling
You’ll now have to give more thought into how your holiday home is styled and presented. Previously old furniture that you no longer needed “did the job” but now, you need to style and present your holiday let so it impresses both online and when guests arrive.
Depersonalise – remove any items that are precious to you and any of your personal belongings. This includes any photos of you and your family. Guests need to feel it’s their home for the duration of their stay and having reminders of the owner’s presence can make guests feel a little uneasy.
Declutter – the games cupboard, the kitchen cupboards (replace any chipped crockery and replace if necessary), surfaces, pictures on your wall. Declutter everywhere! Have nothing in there that either doesn’t serve a purpose or isn’t pleasing to look at and forming part of your decor scheme.
After depersonalising and decluttering, start your styling mission with the master bedroom and the lounge. Click here for how to style a master bedroom. Click here for more styling your holiday home advice.