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The Ups and Downs of owning a Furnished Holiday Let

endure

GCM
Bump.

We reopened our cafe and gardens on Saturday, doing takeaways only, in line with social distancing and covid guidelines.

Sold 120 pizzas in the first two hours.


Mate of mine's got two restaurants in Nottingham. He used the government grant to pay his overdue tax bill and he's been making as much money doing collections and deliveries as he was when the place was open.
 

sirbhp

LE
Book Reviewer
I have been for two job interviews in the past by chancers of a managers who wanted to pick mine ( and others) brains about a sticky problem for free, then tell their bosses how clever they were .

Interview in the staff canteen should have given it away . There were no jobs going as I investigated both firms later by a quick call to HR asking them to confirm was it two or three referees they needed. Once of these companies was Mercury mobile phones back in the day .
 

endure

GCM
I have been for two job interviews in the past by chancers of a managers who wanted to pick mine ( and others) brains about a sticky problem for free, then tell their bosses how clever they were .

Interview in the staff canteen should have given it away . There were no jobs going as I investigated both firms later by a quick call to HR asking them to confirm was it two or three referees they needed. Once of these companies was Mercury mobile phones back in the day .


I went for a job interview where the boss got me to go on a Saturday morning and fix some PCs for free. He then offered me the job with an Astra van instead of the Audi 80 I was currently driving and a £6k pay cut...
 
We decided to use my gratuity and buy a cottage on the N Yorks Moors (we now live in the Lake District) and turn it into a furnished holiday let, on the basis that it would pay for itself. It sleeps 4 and with a rollaway for a fifth guest. I read this thread and spoke to a number of people who had gone down this route (including my mate Crash who used to post on here and lived nearby). We bought it late last year and I spent all my spare time updating it and preparing it for let....from March. My partner enjoyed doing the furnishings and outfitting, mindful of what people had said.

Here we are at the end of June and still no income and a mortgage to sustain. Hopefully our first booking will be from 4 July, but we are questioning the viability of it. Since we got a cleaner sorted out, the 'Government guidelines' have become very onerous and our letting agency insists that we confirm we will adhere to them. The cleaning cost and time has doubled.

The sorts of things that will now have to be done because of CV-19:

  • No cushions, no books, no ornaments, no games etc, to reduce the risk of transmission and to ease cleaning.
  • Mattress and pillow protectors to be changed each week and commercially laundered.
  • Bedding to be stripped by the guests and placed in sealed bin liners (to reduce risk to cleaners).
  • Cleaners to be in full PPE including booties and to change gloves between each room.
  • All common areas to be wiped down with either bleach or alcohol wipes (door handles, switches, bannisters etc). Remote controls to be wrapped in cling film.
  • All crockery and cutlery to be machine washed between changes.
  • 'Approved' handwash and paper towels in all bathrooms. (1 ensuite and one family bathroom).
  • Sanitiser by all entry doors.
  • Signed statements from guests that they have no CV19 symptoms on arrival or departure.
  • No visitors allowed in the property.
  • ....etc.
Added to that it seems the pub in the nearby village may never reopen.

Bugger.
Our first guests were due to arrive on 4th July...except I've just been told by the letting firm that they are from three households so therefore break Government Regulations (or are they guidelines?). Now trying to re-let it for that week.

B&gger!
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Things are starting to move again for us.

We opened the cafe last weekend and that’s been steady away. Pizzas flying out the door at a steady rate.

One of our pubs is too small to safely open and maintain social distancing so we’re just gonna take the hit on that for now.

Bigger pub opening on Saturday, lots of preparation gone into that this week.

We’ve also converted the wedding barn into a socially distanced “beer hall”.

Basically just a big barn, with a fully stocked bar, where people can get pissed. We’ll do hog roasts, wood fired pizzas etc.

All pretty positive.
 
Our site opens tomorrow so we will be away up to our van asap. What a relief to be able to go more than 5 miles from our home
 
Things are starting to move again for us.

We opened the cafe last weekend and that’s been steady away. Pizzas flying out the door at a steady rate.

One of our pubs is too small to safely open and maintain social distancing so we’re just gonna take the hit on that for now.

Bigger pub opening on Saturday, lots of preparation gone into that this week.

We’ve also converted the wedding barn into a socially distanced “beer hall”.

Basically just a big barn, with a fully stocked bar, where people can get pissed. We’ll do hog roasts, wood fired pizzas etc.

All pretty positive.


Vegan hog roasts? :)
 
Your site may be open tomorrow but the 5 mile rule is still in place at the moment..

Sent from my SM-T515 using Tapatalk
That rule finishes the morn as well
 
Any industry idea of what BBtB is going to hit us (punters) and owners with Monday, am i alone in struggling to undefstand that i can drive across a county to work a shift cheek by jowl with 8 others from different homes but cannot take family ro a remote cottage where the only local i see will drive the tesco delivery van
 
Any industry idea of what BBtB is going to hit us (punters) and owners with Monday, am i alone in struggling to undefstand that i can drive across a county to work a shift cheek by jowl with 8 others from different homes but cannot take family ro a remote cottage where the only local i see will drive the tesco delivery van
Nope. I am up in our cottage this week as we had a cancellation of two couples coming form Scotland. And that is NOT ALLOWED. Thanks God I managed to get broadband installed. Our letting agent promises to tell me more after the Boris display of Churchillian Bluster. I'm already getting 'You're not from round 'ere' looks from the in-bred locals.
 
Anyone that will admitt to having a let in Wales, or even just living in Wales that has a clue WTAF is going on tourist industry wise for half term please do tell, it just seems to be an anti English rant coming from the WA at the moment, hate to say this but a lot of people afr saying if they get ~~~~ed around thier money will go elsewhere in better times.
 

Ayatollah

Old-Salt
We've been letting our house in the Lake District for almost 9 years. It is our family home and most of the refurbishment I did myself. So, when we decided to FHL it whilst on a series of overseas postings, we thought it would give us the flexibility to use it when we wanted to. Because we had lived in it for four years, we hoped that most of the teething problems had been resolved.

It's a big house over four floors - five bedrooms, two en-suite double rooms, two other bathrooms, two large sitting rooms with open fire, huge kitchen and dining room, utility room, garden and parking for three cars. The house is furnished with antiques and nice artwork; we had the dilemma that we couldn't afford to refurnish it when we let it, so apart from one or two precious items, the furniture has remained, and has survived. Decoration-wise, we've stuck with variations of BMW - Beige, magnolia and white. We also keep a detailed list of what paints we have used where - the busy parts of the house (hallway and stair case - 7 flights of stairs) we've used Farrow and Ball on the walls because of its coverage, finish and resilience. A winter job for me is to do the gloss-work in the house.

We use one of the largest FHL companies in the Lake District, who seem to have the greatest market penetration and they gave us very good advice on preparation - plus access to their buying power for crockery, linen etc. We agonised about pets - most people going to the Lakes take a dog so we didn't want to exclude a significant part of the market, but the company advised against it for all the reasons that you've mentioned. And, as you've pointed out, not everyone is a responsible owner. In spite of it being a no dog property, when I deep clean the carpets on a 6 monthly cycle, a huge amount of dog hair emerges...and we had a complaint recently about it after our dog - a golden retriever - had stayed with us as we did some work on the house. We had been meticulous about cleaning (did it ourselves to save the £150 turn around) but some hairs had been found. We offered them a 10% discount on the next booking.

But we've had very few guest problems. Typically we get a vertical family: grand-parents, parents and children, or two families - often to commemorate a wedding anniversary or somesuch. We have regulars from the Netherlands and the US. However, we banned one group who smoked in the property, disconnected a smoke detector and brought muddy bikes into the house. Just over a year ago , the wash-hand basin in one of the shower rooms was inexplicably broken, and a glass top protecting a chest of draws was also smashed. We had one guest complain about the feather duvets so we replaced all with synthetic ones, and the pillows. That was a big expense: 16 duvets, 16 pillows.

As far as I am aware, we've not had anything stolen and our library seems to accumulate a good selection of novels (to supplement my military history, intelligence and international relations titles...). We accumulate specs, CD/DVDs, cutlery, chargers, torches and walking equipment - a very nice day sack, hiking first aid kit and several walking poles. We advise the agent but they are rarely claimed! Recently, we decamped our collection of DVDs up to the house and I am pleased to say that they seem to be used, even though we have good broad band coverage now.

One of the smartest decisions we made was to replace the 87 (yes, 87) bulbs and halogens around the house with LEDs. Previously, the halogens in the kitchen would fail on a regular basis; the candle bulbs in the chandeliers would go etc. Since I have not needed to replace a single LED and our electricity bill plummeted. The garden security lights were a problem due to an intermittent cable fault so I have replaced those with solar powered PIR LEDs - very effective. I've also replaced the smoke and CO detectors with an integrated wifi system. Not cheap, but it means that if one sounds, they all sound; if you silence one, the only one still sounding is at the source of the trouble. Previously, if the kitchen one sounded, it couldn't be heard in the attic rooms.

We lost quite a bit of income two years ago when we tackled a roof leak in a 20 year old extension. As is so often the case, the problem was much bigger. The extension hadn't been properly tied to the house and had rotated slightly, causing leaks. It became a major (and expensive) job to sort it out, but in the process we upgraded the balcony and replaced all the rainwater goods at the rear of the house (4 stories) and tidied them up.

Most of our bookings are repeats and it's interesting to read the guest book comments: 'This time we used the AGA - it was brill!' or 'Don't stop what you are doing with the house, we love it'. Unfortunately we have also become addicted to the cash-flow, however I've just done the accounts for the last FY and our taxable income from the property is just 4.5% of turnover (but we do attribute every conceivable cost to the property). Overheads are high: utilities, (water is about £1000 pa), insurance, turnarounds, booking fees, replacements, re-decs, upgrades, rubbish collections (as it is regarded as a commercial property), maintenance contracts with British Gas, statutory testing... Luckily, now that I am back in the UK and have a bit of time on my hands, I can do most of the redecoration and maintenance myself.

One problem we are trying to tackle is grounds maintenance. My in-laws - keen gardeners - happily mowed the lawn and maintained the beds, the pots and window boxes. Now they are both a bit frail so we are seeking other ways of maintaining the garden. The quotes we've received are eye-watering. Our property manager who supervises the cleaning and is the key-holder, has just told us she's retiring through ill-health (and, coincidentally, has offered to sell her thriving business to us). Good property managers and cleaners are essential and they are also as scarce as hen's teeth in the Lake District. We've got until September to source a replacement cleaning contract that we can rely on.

PS: There are several weeks free in September and October. 20% discount to Arrsers...
Use artificial Grass and if you want flowers use drought tolerant varieties in pots, as to buying her business? If you're interested start your own, her clients will come to you. Cause employing people would be a headache but there are lots of teens or retirees looking for part-time work although honesty and ethics would be a high priority.
 
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