Safe Guests, Happy Host. The 7 Essential Ways to Protect Your Holiday Home from Risks.

Risk #1 – The “Wrong” Guests

Getting a call from your neighbours asking why it sounds like an AC/DC concert is next door is the last thing that hosts ever want to hear. And even worse, with AC/DC comes beer, and with beer comes destruction … and before you know it you’re calling the cops and submitting a claim for accidental damage…

How to avoid it…

  • Set strict limits on the number of adults allowed in your property in each party.
  • Vet guests by asking for further details about why they wish to stay and what the ages of guests are.
  • Always charge a bond (also known as a security deposit) – this doesn’t have to be huge ($300-500 is recommended) but it is a very effective deterrent to careless guest behaviour!

Top Tip: Read the Holiday Rental Code of Conduct to understand your obligations as a host.

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Risk #2 – Poor Payment Practices

Risky business isn’t just a movie with Tom Cruise in it – it’s what holiday home owners engage in when they take payments outside of online booking systems. Guests that ask if they can “pay cash” or send you a cheque should start alarm bells ringing immediately. By indulging in these payment practices owners do not have the protection of terms and conditions and also have an increased chance of being scammed.

How to avoid it…
  • Only process payments via online booking systems.
  • Don’t accept payments directly to your bank account.
  • Beware of scams (where the guest offers to pay by cheque).

Top Tip: Even online payment systems such as PayPal are not foolproof. Disgruntled or duplicitous guests can dispute transactions or initiate chargeback requests resulting in money being withdrawn from your account with no recompense!

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner top_padding=”1%”][vc_column_inner column_padding=”padding-2-percent” column_padding_position=”top” background_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/4″][image_with_animation image_url=”2235″ alignment=”” animation=”Fade In”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Risk #3 – Not Communicating Rules Whilst no guest likes to be forced into obeying a large list of draconian rules, a few simple rules can relieve host stress and reduce the risk of problems or damage occurring. How to avoid it …
  • Stick to 5–10 memorable, simple rules – anything more will be ignored.
  • Include rules in your instructions sent to guests at time of booking.
  • Include the same rules in a prominent location in the house (such as inside the kitchen cupboard where you keep the mugs!).
  • Include your rules within terms and conditions in all of the booking platforms you use so that guests have to agree with them as a condition of booking.
Top Tip: important rules often relate to smoking, fires, property security, guest numbers and noise.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner top_padding=”2%”][vc_column_inner column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/2″][image_with_animation image_url=”2236″ alignment=”” animation=”Fade In”][vc_column_text]

Risk #4 – Getting In Safely

We all have an image in our heads of guests cheerfully arriving at our properties in sunshine filled days and throwing open the door and jumping onto soft filled beds in fits of incandescent joy. But what about those times guests arrive at night in driving rain or even snow?! Slippery, wet surfaces or even simply darkness itself can represent a risk to guests.

How to avoid it …
  • Install lights to illuminate paths, driveways and doorways that guests will need to navigate to access the property.
  • If access areas are likely to get wet, ensure that surfaces have treatments to make them slip free.
  • Always have doormats to mop up excess water from guest shoes to prevent slip hazards – especially if you have smooth flooring such as wood floors.

Top Tip: LED sensor lights are cheap to run and can be bought from a local hardware store such as Bunnings. They also make it a lot easier for guests to get keys in the lock!

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Risk #5 – Not Protecting Guests

When guests enter your property, you have a duty of care to keep them safe. Not having the right equipment in place or ignoring safety regulations could quickly land you in hot water!

How to avoid it …
  • Ensure that fire precautions are in place – this includes having smoke alarms in living areas and in each bedroom.
  • Have a fire blanket and fire extinguisher readily available in the event a fire occurs.
  • Provide clear instructions and fire guards for use with any fires.
  • Any devices that could be dangerous should be clearly identified and clear instructions provided
  • Have a first aid kit available (and easy to find).

Top Tip: Have emergency contact details for fire, ambulance, police and local hospitals readily available, especially if you have international guests who don’t know to call triple zero!

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner top_padding=”1%”][vc_column_inner column_padding=”padding-6-percent” column_padding_position=”top” background_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/4″][image_with_animation image_url=”2238″ alignment=”” animation=”Fade In”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Risk #6 – Little People Little kids love holidays too, and they love nothing more than to get their sticky little fingers into places they shouldn’t! And if anyone is going to use Aunty Beryl’s priceless Dolphin Ornament to dig holes in the garden it will be them … How to avoid it …
  • Firstly, Aunty Beryl’s ornament shouldn’t be in the house. Anything of great value (even if sentimental value) is best kept securely away from guests.
  • If you don’t want it touched, put it above shoulder height. Even little folks know how to climb on chairs.
  • Install hot water temperature limiters and circuit breakers to keep kids safe from harm.
Top Tip: anything remotely dangerous should be kept in the highest available cupboard – think matches, sharp objects or anything that could be a lethal weapon in the hands of a 5 year old![/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner top_padding=”1%”][vc_column_inner column_padding=”padding-7-percent” column_padding_position=”top” background_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/4″][vc_column_text][/vc_column_text][image_with_animation image_url=”2239″ alignment=”” animation=”Fade In”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Risk #7 – Hazards! Arya Stark’s comment of “stick them with the pointy end” is great advice if you’re playing the game of thrones, but not so good if you’re hosting guests. Even if you think they add a certain “derelict” rustic charm, broken glass, sharp fences and rusty outdoor furnishings have no place in today’s holiday rental property. And if you have stairways where you can slide into oblivion or steps as effective as booby traps then here’s what you need to do …
  • Ensure that anything that could cause harm is clearly identified. This could include steps that are difficult to see, a narrow staircase that could cause a slip, low head heights, high drops or any kind of body of water such as ponds, rivers or pools (particularly if children are regular visitors to the property).
  • Check outdoor areas on a regular basis (particularly fences) and put in place maintenance schedules to ensure that everything is kept in risk-free condition.
  • Have a list of tradesmen that you can contact immediately in the event of an issue. Getting problems resolved quickly is critical.
Top Tip: Have your cleaners conduct safety inspections as part of every clean in order to identify hazards that need repair or replacement. Putting in place these few simple precautions can help dramatically reduce your risks – providing you with the peace of mind that your guests are safe and happy at your holiday home.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″][vc_column_text][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]]]>

The Pros and Cons of Starting a Holiday Rental Property

Pros [/vc_column_text][text-with-icon icon_type=”font_icon” icon=”icon-star” color=”Accent-Color”]

Saving money on Holidays
Holiday homeowners can save thousands of dollars per year by using their own homes for weekends away as well as longer breaks. There is no need to pay for expensive flights as the home is likely to be within driving distance (particularly convenient if you have a young family or dog). Other than petrol costs and maybe a post-stay clean (if you don’t want to clean it yourself), there are few costs involved.[/text-with-icon][text-with-icon icon_type=”font_icon” icon=”icon-star” color=”Accent-Color”]
Getting away more often
Having a holiday home a few hours’ drive away means that you can hop in the car and enjoy a weekend away at the drop of a hat. What would ordinarily cost a great deal of money to rent can now be enjoyed for free (presuming your rental income covers your loan payments). Naturally, some holiday homeowners choose to buy properties far from home, but these are in the minority.[/text-with-icon][text-with-icon icon_type=”font_icon” icon=”icon-star” color=”Accent-Color”]
Investment (capital gains)
Holiday homes can be as good an investment in terms of capital gains as any other property. A carefully selected holiday home in the correct location can bring substantial gains over time. An owner says… “We bought our holiday home for $316k. Including renovations we spent approximately $350k. 6 years later it is worth close to $600k-a $250k gain in only 6 years!”[/text-with-icon][text-with-icon icon_type=”font_icon” icon=”icon-star” color=”Accent-Color”]
Income
The biggest “pro” with a holiday home is arguably the amount of rental income that can be generated. If the property is run and marketed effectively the rental returns can be astronomical compared to a long-term rental (and you get to enjoy it yourself too!) An Owner Says… “On the current long-term rental market, our property would rent for $300 a week. Our rental income running it as a holiday home is more than five times that amount!”[/text-with-icon][text-with-icon icon_type=”font_icon” icon=”icon-star” color=”Accent-Color”]
Share with others
Not only does your level of coolness increase exponentially when you tell family and friends that you have a holiday home it’s also great to be able to share your home with them. You’ll also be surprised at how many of them are happy to pay to stay there (with a little friends’ discount of course!)[/text-with-icon][text-with-icon icon_type=”font_icon” icon=”icon-star” color=”Accent-Color”]
Charity
Having a holiday home also helps you do something great for the world. The majority of holiday homes have spare capacity at some stage during the year, and a great thing to do is to donate any spare capacity you may have to a charity to provide free accommodation. “At our holiday home we have some capacity over the colder winter months so we donate this capacity to The Otis Foundation. This allows women being treated for breast cancer to stay at the house for free in order to have some time to recuperate and relax with their families after a very difficult experience.”[/text-with-icon][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”padding-3-percent” column_padding_position=”left-right” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/2″][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1491470945165{padding-bottom: 30px !important;}”]

Cons

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Groundhog Day (same place each time)
If you buy a holiday home you’d better make sure that you love the house and the area that it’s in as you’ll be spending a lot of time there! If you don’t have a passion for it or you are someone who craves constant variety of locations, a holiday home may not be right for you. An owner says… “We have owned our holiday home for 6 years and we’ve never lost the love for the house or location. In fact, as time has gone by we’ve become increasingly more attached to it as we make many lifelong family memories of our time spent there.”[/text-with-icon][text-with-icon icon_type=”font_icon” icon=”icon-star-empty” color=”Extra-Color-3″]
Expense of borrowing
Unless you’re significantly financially endowed it’s likely that you may need to borrow money to buy your property. The amount you need to borrow needs to be carefully weighed up against the potential rental income or you could find yourself in financial difficulties. It’s also important to remember that holiday homes can be highly seasonal and revenue may peak in particular times of the year and be non-existent in others. However, you still have to pay for loans every month so it’s important to plan for the “peaks and troughs” of income. An owner says… “Our holiday home is located at the beach and as a result we make 70% of our income in the summer months. In the early days, we had to be careful to set aside some of the summer income to cover home loan payments in the quieter winter months.” [/text-with-icon][text-with-icon icon_type=”font_icon” icon=”icon-star-empty” color=”Extra-Color-3″]
Expense of setting up
In contrast to long-term rental properties which may not require furnishing, holiday rental properties require a significant upfront investment in furnishing to ensure that an acceptable standard is created for guests. We’ll talk about what furnishings and facilities are required in Part 2 “Setting  Up Your Holiday Rental Property”.[/text-with-icon][text-with-icon icon_type=”font_icon” icon=”icon-star-empty” color=”Extra-Color-3″]
Time taken to manage the property
Some owners can find managing their properties time consuming and stressful, particularly if they are not “internet savvy” or experienced in running a business. Finding staff to clean and maintain the property may also be seen as an onerous task. An owner says: “Whilst we enjoy owning a holiday home and we earn good money from it we found that we just weren’t good at marketing or managing the property. We were happy to spend a bit more money to have an agency manage it for us. Many people like to do it themselves but for our personal situation it was the right decision for us.” [/text-with-icon][text-with-icon icon_type=”font_icon” icon=”icon-star-empty” color=”Extra-Color-3″]
Use it and lose it
The irony of owning a holiday home is that often when you want to use it most, so does everyone else! If you use the property in peak periods you may live with the “buyers remorse” of lost income or in the opposite situation if you don’t use the property when you really want to you may feel that buying it has not been worth it. An owner says… “We’ve become so busy that we now have to book dates out for ourselves. We’ve come to terms with the fact that we’d rather have the income from peak season than spend the time there ourselves. We’ve found a balance by staying for a couple of days a month in peak season and enjoying more time at the house during off-peak periods.” [/text-with-icon][/vc_column][/vc_row]]]>

The 5 Key Staff That Holiday Rentals Need

Agreements & Contracts Whatever staff you engage it’s always best to have a professionally written contract or agreement specifying the terms of the engagement. This doesn’t have to be a legal contract drawn up in triplicate-it just needs to set out expectations and fees clearly.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” top_padding=”50″ overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Cleaners

The most important resource you will have are your cleaners therefore it is vitally important that you select the right one. So what should you look for in a cleaner?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]1.Ask the cleaner what experience they have and ask them to supply references. Anyone can become a cleaner but not everyone does a good job at it! 2.Ask them how many holiday homes they clean in the area. As a rough guide an average holiday home (3 bedrooms) will take 3 hours to clean. If they are cleaning more than 20 holiday homes they may be overloaded and standards may start to drop. 3.Ask them where they live. The closer they are to your holiday home the better. That way they can assist with any last minute issues that guests may have. 4.If you are supplying linen and towels be sure to ask how much they charge per bed or per bundle of towels. 5.Walk them through the property showing them where you keep supplies and linen. If you can’t be there in person provide them with access via your key safe and ask them to call or skype you so you can walk them through it (you can always change your key safe code afterwards). 6.Many cleaners will also mow lawns, keep gardens tidy and perform maintenance – ask them what other tasks they can perform. It can be more convenient to have them do all of the jobs and it means less invoices to pay. 7.Ensure that they have an email address that they check regularly. With online property bookings the norm, it will be simpler for you to forward booking emails onto them rather than having to text or call them. Also ensure that they provide their mobile number(s). 8.Ask them if they have a checklist that they follow-many may not have this but if you find a cleaner that employs a checklist it is a good sign that they are focused on quality.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” top_padding=”40″ overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column enable_animation=”true” animation=”none” column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Whether they have a checklist or not you should always document what your expectations are with regard to cleaning tasks. Make clear what you required done at each clean as well as cleaning tasks performed weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually (again, refer to Appendix A for an example) Try to meet prospective cleaners in person and walk them through the property to explain what you expect to be done. If you can’t be there in person set up a call via Skype and do a virtual tour of the property. Try to avoid the complication of hourly rates and different prices per clean by agreeing set fees per clean and set prices per set of linen. An owner says… “We got into a difficult situation with a cleaner who was on an hourly rate. She was spending so much time at the property that our cleaning costs started to skyrocket. Upon further investigation, we found out that she was performing excessive and unnecessarily cleaning tasks to try to improve her income. We created a checklist clarifying exactly what was required per clean and switched her onto a fixed fee per clean which resolved the problem.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” top_padding=”50″ overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Gardener

If your cleaners don’t look after lawns and gardens then be sure to find someone who does. Make sure that their brief includes wowing lawns and edges as well as trimming and bushes and taking care of weeds. Be sure to set up a regular schedule for mowing. Guests turning up to an unkempt garden is not a good first impression. If you want to keep costs down, you could ask your staff to send you a photo prior to mowing so that you can give the ok as to whether the mow is required but over time you will get a feel as to what mowing or maintenance frequency is required. An owner says… “We hired a gardener to do our lawns and edges and whilst they did a great job they didn’t consider weeding as part of their job! After finding our garden beds and paths covered in weeds we decided to find someone else who would do everything for us.“[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” top_padding=”50″ overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Handyman

When that curtain rod falls down or a door handle falls off you’ll be needing someone to fix it quickly so that you can minimize the impact to guests. When selecting someone to do this, get them to provide a list of things that they can assist with. Whilst maintenance is not generally a large ongoing expense you will have small repair jobs that will need to be done over the years. An owner says… “Some of the repairs that we have had to do include replacing flyscreens, fixing door handles, repairing sticking windows, fixing loose screws on chairs and roller blinds that no longer roll. Maintenance isn’t a large expense at our property but it is important to fix things as soon as there is an issue with them.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” top_padding=”50″ overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Plumber

Plumbing problems are likely to be infrequent, but blocked drains, dripping taps, faulty toilets or a failed hot water system can ruin a guest’s stay. Again look for a plumber that is close at hand and who is readily contactable 24/7. You may also wish to have a backup plumber in the event that your first plumber is busy.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” top_padding=”50″ overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Electrician

Electrical repairs are uncommon but they do happen. Guests sitting in the dark are not something that you even want to think about! As per plumbers – look for an electrician that is close at hand and who is readily contactable 24/7. When first setting up the property you may find that you need extra sockets behind beds for lamps. You should also look to install a circuit breaker, particularly if you have young children staying at the property.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]]]>

Essential Insurance for Holiday Rental Properties

Building & Contents Insurance As per your usual home insurance you should make sure that you have both building & contents insurance. You should also check that your contents insurance covers malicious damage in the unlikely event that someone willfully causes damage to your property. Don’t worry-this is very unlikely!  

Public Liability Insurance

Public liability insurance provides protection for you in the event that something should happen to a guest on your property. It is your legal protection if you are found to be responsible for personal injury to a visitor at your property (including both guests and others).  

Rent protection

In the event that your holiday rental property is unavailable for rental due to an insured event (e.g. flood, fire, etc) rent protection cover will pay for the loss of rent that you incur up to a specified amount. An owner says… “We have a holiday home insurance policy that provides both the standard building and contents insurance as well as the public liability insurance. In addition, we have $20,000 coverage for loss of rent in the event that we have to close the property for a period of time.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]]]>