03 September 2013

Rent your UK holiday home in winter

It’s not unusual for holiday homes in the UK to be left empty for months at a time during winter. But in leaving them dormant, the owners aren’t just leaving themselves potentially out of pocket, they could be inviting serious damage to the house. Apart from all the minor wear and tear that comes with a house being lived in, having people there's a whole lot better for the house and for you. 

The cash incentive 

The first reason to get people staying in your holiday home during winter, even if you have to lower the rates considerably, is that you can still make good money. At the very least you can cover the council tax bill and other costs of upkeep with some left over. There are two options to consider when doing this.

1. If your holiday property is in a secluded or remote location, or if it can be sold as a 'cottage' or 'retreat', then you should take full advantage. Have two sets of promotional photos – one for summer, one for winter. In the winter photos create an atmosphere of warmth and homeliness with the fire switched on and frost in the windows. For the pictures, maybe put some Nick Drake CDs on the fireplace and a pair of muddied boots by the door. Change the description of the property from 'beach hut' or 'seaside villa' to something more like 'winter wonderland'  or 'secluded winter getaway'.

2. If you’re still not getting any interest, or if you have gaps in the schedule, consider letting the property out to friends and people in your extended social circle. Let them know that they can have it at ‘mate rates’ to achieve a higher turnover. If you know creative people such as writers and painters, offer your holiday home to them as an artistic 'retreat' for reduced rates. Providing they do the washing up, change the sheets and don't splatter paint all over the rug, of course.

The benefits of having somebody there

Besides the financial benefits of having folk stay, it’s also a lot better for a house to be occupied than unoccupied. The first is that canny crooks in most areas tend to go for holiday homes out of season. Having people there, coming and going, should warn away any potential intruders or vandals from taking advantage while you’ve left your holiday home alone.

During the winter months it's easy for properties to deteriorate when left vacant. They are especially prone to storm damage if they are in remote areas with a lot of wind, or flooding if they’re by the sea or on a flood plain. If the worst does happen, it’s always good to have somebody there to steward the house through the cruellest months.

Just remember 

If you do decide to let out your holiday home during winter, make sure it's safe and comfortable. Provide plenty of salt and grit so the tenants can prevent the paths from becoming dangerous, a rake to get rid of leaves, and a phone number on which they can reach you or a neighbor in case of emergencies.

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