Thursday, June 28, 2012

When did you last have the pleasure of smelling a flower

Last weekend we planted some summer flowers to cheer the courtyard garden up.

We have been letting the cottage for about eighteen months now and this is probably a good point to answer some of those questions that people ask me about running a holiday let.

Firstly, I would say, if you are just interested in doing it to make money - there are easier ways!

It is always going to be more lucrative and less hard work, if you are interested in making money from property, to simply let it on a permanent basis to tenants.

You do have similar duties, in terms of health and safety, as a long let landlord - but you do not have the duty a holiday let landlord has to make your property a good holiday experience.

You have to remember that visitors expect a high standard of cleanliness, and an attractive environment.

These duties include cleaning, changing linen, gardening, changing lightbulbs and the myriad things that make a stay special.

This means maintaining the property to a higher degree than you probably do your own home and that your visitors do their own homes. Because, when you are away on holiday you do not want the daily chores and minutiae of your normal life to intrude any more than is necessary and you want to escape from the clutter and untidiness that, perhaps, is a common factor normally.

One of the reasons we always feel relaxed when we stay at the cottage is the fact that it is uncluttered and functional - unlike are own messy house filled with the detritus of two children !

As a holiday let landlord you also need to consider that, the Council Tax, the TV license, the Broadband connection, electricity bills, water rates etc; all have to be administered and paid by yourself, not the tenant.

Obviously, all these factors, and seasonal variations, need to be taken into account when you price a holiday let. You will be charging holiday visitors more than you would permanent tenants -  but you do need a lot of bookings before you can reach the same levels of income that you would with long lets.

If you actually sit down and work out the amount of time you are spending on maintenance you are likely to find that you are earning far less than minimum wage for your effort !

However, we did not set up the cottage to make us a lot of money, it is a tribute to my brother's memory and somewhere for us to escape to (when not let!) for a bit of R&R.

So to sum up, my advice, if you are thinking of setting up a holiday let, is, don't do it as a money making venture because you won't make a lot of money out of it. If, however, you get a lot of pleasure, as I do, from reading in the Visitors book that you have given children some fine memories to take away with them - then go for it. After all money isn't everything (Try telling that to Barclays Bank directors).

We have Trees

As you will be aware, the cottage was set up to house my late brother David's collection of memorabilia.

He lived in Lancaster so we also planted a tree in the Lune Valley to commemorate his life.

As David's was one of the first trees planted on this new site there are no trees in front of it and you get a nice view of the River Lune.

We also put a bench there in his memory, and it is at the end of the path to the plantings, by the tree.

We popped up North to take a look at how the tree was doing over half term. I had a nice conversation with an elderly gentleman who was also visiting a tree. He has to use a walking frame to get there so he likes to sit on the bench and he says that he always says hello to David and thanks him for the bench !

That cheered me up, I think David would have liked the fact that the bench has proved so useful and it is nice to think of him being thought of by the people who use it.