My seaside property is empty, can I let it as a holiday home?

Question

I own a seaside property, which has recently become vacant. Can I let it as a holiday let over the summer period, or will this change its usage?

Answer

There are serious considerations to think about before you go down this route. Whilst more and more people are being tempted to holiday in the UK, and picturesque cottages are in high demand, the dream of playing host to a series of holidaying families is not necessarily the idyllic picture postcard you might imagine…

Pros

Holiday lets are pricey, and you can charge high fees for a property that is situated in a good location, well-equipped, in good decorative order and has added benefits such as parking and a garden. You could be looking at around 20% on top of what you could expect to get on a weekly basis as rent.

If you operate under the “furnished holiday letting” rules, you can offset all expenses including full mortgage interest against the rental income. This compares with the scaling back of tax relief on buy-to-let from 2017. Running a holiday let is treated by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in the same way as any trading business, so losses can be carried forward and offset against future profits. However, to qualify for furnished holiday-let tax treatment, the property must be available for letting for 210 days a year and actually let for 105 days.

Cons

By this stage of the year, most families will have their holiday accommodation booked up – with family-friendly properties near good amenities, with parking at a premium, most people plan well in advance. Whilst you may get lucky and strike gold with last minute holiday makers, it’s a risky strategy if you have a mortgage to pay!

You will need to let your property fully furnished, so if you don’t already have furniture in place, you’ll have an initial outlay for this. If you want to charge top whack for your holiday hideaway, you’ll need to shell out for some decent kit – holiday-makers might be choosing to stay in the UK, but that doesn’t mean they’re settling for any less that 5-star luxury!

With most British holidays lasting around a week, you’ll have a regular turnaround of customers. You’ll have to get your hands dirty with a speedy clean up between check in and out, and be on hand all summer to make sure you’re there to manage keys, cleaning and any issues that arise. With such heavy footfall in your property, you may see heavier wear and tear on things such as white goods, electronics and furniture, so do budget for replacements a little more often.

If your property has outgoings to support, such as a mortgage, a tenant on a long tern rental contract is probably a more secure option – although you may possibly be seeing less money coming into your bank account on a monthly basis during the summer months, you’re guaranteed the regular income throughout the year – something that seasonal holiday lets cannot deliver.

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