Author: Sophie Leigh-Jones

How to rent out your home as a holiday let as you travel

How to rent out your home as a holiday let as you travel

The past year (20/21) has put a real strain on global travel. Particularly if you live in the UK, travel has been limited even within the country, let alone anywhere abroad. We are all eager to get out and now that the world is starting to ease up a little with the vaccine programme success, people are finally looking forward to some travel. We have been asked several times recently whether someone could rent their property out, even if it is just for a couple of months.

The short answer is yes! Websites like Airbnb, VRBO and Booking.com have made it increasingly easy to rent out your home and be flexible with the dates. Even if you just want to rent your house for a specific day of the year, that is absolutely fine. Now you’ve made that decision, the next most important thing is whether you are going to look after that yourself, or whether you would like a management company to take care of it. This blog will assume that you want to manage it yourself, but if you want to enjoy your time away without any hassle, you might want to consider asking a management company to take care of it. That is what we do at Simple Getaway, if you would like to speak to us, please click on the link.

What next? Here’s our list of things you need to start thinking about.

  1. Decision time – decide when, and for how long you want to list your property. Once you’ve made the decision to rent your house and you receive bookings, you will be penalised if you change your mind and cancel those bookings. Therefore, you need to make sure you are completely sure and comfortable with renting your home during those periods.
  2. Get rental ready – you will want to get your house ready to photograph. We would recommend removing anything that you do not want to make available to the guests and store in a cupboard or locked room. Clothes, jewellery, sentimental items and personal things should be in this category.
  3. Photo time – Once you’ve removed anything you do not want to have in the listing, it is time for photos. Make sure the house is clean, windows are clean, beds are made, pillows fluffed etc! Either hire a photographer or take them yourself, if you choose the latter, make sure you take good quality imagery. Hold the camera lower than your eye level, avoid any special effects (fish eye, wide angle etc) and make sure you get a shot of each room and the outside if available.
  4. List your property – choose where you want to list. Just a room? Probably just go with Airbnb. A larger property, try Airbnb and VRBO. Each site charges different fees so make sure you choose something you are comfortable with. If you list on both sites, make sure you share calendars to avoid a double booking.
  5. Respond to inquiries – you may receive inquiries straight away or it may take some time. Don’t panic either way! Make sure you respond to inquiries as quickly as you can, that way you will attract a guest before they inquire elsewhere. Make sure you are friendly in your responses and try to be as helpful as you can when guests have questions.
  6. Get ready for the booking
    1. Keys – if you are not going to be there when the guests arrive, you need to make sure they can get access to your home. Do you have a smart lock? A key safe? Key in a safe spot? Neighbour to hold the key? Whatever it is, you need to make sure your guests know with plenty of notice. We would recommend you have a smart lock or a key safe to make the process as easy and secure as possible. Don’t leave your key under the mat..!
    2. Guidebook – it is a good idea to leave some information about the house, wifi codes, heating instructions, rubbish collection etc. Provide a guide book or notes on how to use certain items. Even better, provide them with local recommendations of things to do, places to eat etc..
    3. Contractors – get some local contractors on standby in case something goes wrong. Plumbers, electricians, handymen, locksmiths and cleaners are all useful contractors to have in your phonebook.
  7. Guests arrive – your guests may have a seamless experience and not need to contact you at all, but, if they do, you need to make sure you are available to deal with their questions or issues. Make sure wherever you are has a wifi connection or mobile reception so you are equipped to answer any calls/emails.
  8. Guests leave – depending upon how you’ve listed your property for rent, you may just have a single group staying, or you may have multiple. If you have multiple groups then your cleaners need to be prepared for the changeover days. Make sure they let you know what condition the house was left in so that you can review the guests accordingly. If you have people checking out and others checking in on the same day, you’ll need to have a spare set of sheets as it is unlikely the cleaners would get them washed and dried in time, particularly in a large property.
  9. Complete – Receive the income on the stay and make sure the house is ready for the next arrival, or for your return.

It can be a lot of work getting your house ready to rent but it can be rewarding to receive income for your property when you aren’t using it yourself. The key point is to make sure you are prepared for your guests arrival and be available throughout their stay should they need assistance.

If you have read this blog and think you want to rent but don’t want the hassle, give us a call and we can help. Contact us today.

Interview with Luxury Simplified Retreats – Our US holiday let allies!

Interview with Luxury Simplified Retreats

Sebrina – thank you for speaking with me today. 

I believe you are CEO at Simplified Retreats based in Charleston SC?

Yes I am, Simplified Retreats have been in business for the last 8 years operating in a very competitive marketplace with Charleston being continually nominated as No 1 vacation destination in the USA.

So you are US Based, some of our words and phrases are a little different, you manage vacation rentals whereas we manage holiday lets?

Yes there are some differences and that can get you into trouble sometimes! However in my past life I was 12 years working in London so I’ll try to keep it mid-Atlantic so to speak.

Can you tell me a little about your journey

We started small operating a few of our own homes (we have a construction arm and build our own). These were in downtown Charleston just as the tourist boom began to take off locally. Firstly we rented mainly long weekends with simple systems and have developed from there, expanding to the beaches of the Carolina’s and now down towards Savannah at Palmetto Bluff. We now manage over 50 homes for various second home owners and investors as well as a couple of our own.

How does the industry differ from what you have seen in the UK?

I think the biggest difference is the return on investment for the home owners.  We operate where returns are considerably higher than those typically achieved in the UK.  I don’t feel standards are much different apart from US Interior design tastes but feel the vacationers (customers) are more demanding in the US. For most of our homes we operate a concierge service arranging trips, meals and similar outings plus catering if the vacationer wants. We often operate more like a hotel than someone’s house which was the original intent of platforms such as Airbnb, VRBO etc.

You mentioned returns, can you expand on that?

Yes. A typical 4-bedroom home of a high standard and well situated is expected to earn $100-150,000 a year in gross income. That is operated as an investment with the owner domiciled elsewhere. We see ourselves more as investment managers than rental managers. The investment is the asset aka the home, its contents, how it is marketed and promoted. We seek to maximize that for our homeowners. Our raw material is the vacationer and in catering for their needs, we generate an income.

Tell me about the vacationers.

Ours are mostly in a middle class salary band though for the larger properties commanding $2000 a day upwards we are at the upper end of that bracket. We treat them with care investing in the beginning of what will be a life cycle in a relationship.  Some 60% of our vacationers return to the same or other properties on multiple occasions.

Tell me how you attract vacationers?

It starts with reviews, we are in the top 3 in the Carolina’s based on feedback given to Airbnb.

How do you claim that?

Airbnb is allied with their sister company Air DNA, they create statistics for rental companies based on real bookings and feedback across the USA. Air DNA voted us in the top three for feedback and ADR, Average Daily Rate. We can gain a good rate by the standard of our service and properties. That helps both our owners and us win.

Tell me about marketing.

We invest in the usual suspects, Facebook, Instagram, Pay per Click. We also write on our Blogs continuously advertising events and celebrations plus other activities to get up to. About 40% of bookings are repeat guests and go through our own website, the remainder come through the online travel agents such as Airbnb, Homeaway/VRBO. I’d note here that we believe having your own site is important as you retain the position of merchant of note, aka own the vacationer/rental company relationship. That protects us and our homeowners when the online travel agents do not act in our interests. For example, Airbnb created a block cancellation of bookings in 2020 due to the pandemic without compensation or notice.

How do you manage the homes?

We physically manage their condition and interior aesthetics. When we take a client on there is a honeymoon period where we prepare the home for rent and to show its best aspects. That’s how we make it stand out. Occasionally, an owner wants to manage differently and in that event we will politely withdraw, it happens and it is not personal.  

Our pricing is dynamic in that we review it daily based on upcoming events and future bookings. We know the markets we operate in and how cyclical they are. Future bookings are used to set daily rates and maximize owner return. When we hit the mid 90%’s then it is time to adjust prices, 100% occupation may sound good but can also mean that the home is sold too cheaply or under rented. We do this occasionally but mostly for a new home where we want quick returns and to generate reviews. The second season we rise to the top of the list again. It takes a lot of effort but has been demonstrated to produce an additional 30/40% return for our homeowners. Guests are happy also as they keep coming back!

We also look at the market demand, for example short term rental vs monthly furnished rental. We will switch between these depending on what produces the best return.  However, I do know that our rental laws are very different from the UK. Here it is very easy to do and our tenant laws aren’t strict like the UK. If we know that the winter will be slow at the beach, we will try and do a monthly rental for January in February for all the snowbirds looking to escape the North during the winter.

Do you rent your own home?

Yes we do.  We travel frequently and when our youngest son is out of school we pack up our bags and hit the road.  We have organized our lifestyle for this and can generally be out within 36 hours with all personal belongings packed away. Also we have an apartment in our carriage house that is rented almost permanently. As the home is in an LLC (company) we can then pay all expenses including a portion of our own living and travel before tax on the income meaning our tax bills are generally de minimis. I know the UK tax system is based on similar principles but beyond that see no reason it would not work the same way in the UK.

How has Covid affected your business?

In the spring of 2020 it was a wasteland and we injected cash to keep salaries paid, we believe loyalty goes both ways and did not want our staff to go through both covid and redundancy. However as covid became worse, the cities emptied, especially New York. A flood of people came south and snapped up anything that had a roof. If I can point out here that the USA is a continent not a country and people are very mobile. The world has not changed much since and we have had one of our best years ever. Our staff have worked incredibly hard under quite dire circumstances and we won’t forget their efforts. The rentals for beaches and the city used to be seasonal though with covid it is anyone’s guess. We did have lockdowns and other restrictions but they are very different from those experiences in the UK. For better or worse.

Sebrina, thank you for all your insights into your company there. We share some similar practises though the two countries and their various intricacies differ in many ways. We wish we could say the same about how covid affected our business but alas, we will get there in the end! Thank you for your feedback and for a little insight into how our industry works in the USA. I will take time to contemplate what lessons we can draw from this for our own business model in the UK.

Things to Consider When Starting a Holiday Let

Bedroom | Cathedral Chalet | Chichester Holiday Home | Simple Getaway

How Do You Manage a Holiday Let?

There are a few reasons why you may decide to purchase and start a holiday let. Perhaps it is a second home for you to enjoy with your friends and family, perhaps it was purchased as an investment project, or maybe you want to shift gears and transfer your long term rental into a holiday let. Whatever your reason for having a holiday let, there are some things you should consider before buying and renting it out.

Picking a Location for Your Holiday Let

If you are unfamiliar with the area when choosing a holiday let property, it is best to get some advice. Your local estate agent should be able to give you some valuable insights into the area, and what areas are more appropriate for holiday guests. Usually, an estate agent will have some links with a local property management company who has valuable insight into the potential return on your investment, and occupancy rates in the locality. At Simple Getaway, we are able to provide some key data regarding what areas are more profitable, and highlight your competition so you know ahead of time, what you are up against.

Picking a House Format

You want to pick a property that is right for you, but if you are looking for your property to be top of the list for holiday guests to choose, you should consider the house format. Think of the search criteria that guests may use to choose an appropriate rental. They could filter by detached, terrace, apartment, they will search by number of guests, and also by bedroom/bathroom ratio. If you can, we would recommend choosing a good bedroom to bathroom ratio. Guests groups vary, but more often than not, guests are not from the same family and like to have their separate space. Choosing a holiday let with an equal or close to equal bedroom to bathroom ratio would be preferable.

Focus on the Important Things

When you are searching for your own home, you may be looking for things like storage, large bedroom spaces or walk in wardrobes. However, when searching for a holiday let, these things aren’t as important. Guests will want to make sure the bedrooms are clean, comfy and functional, but will usually be looking to make sure the communal areas would work for the group. Particularly with larger groups, you’ll want to make sure there is plenty of space available in the living, dining and kitchen areas so that guests can enjoy the space with their group.

Furnishing Your Holiday Let

Once you have decided on the right property, it’s time to work on the interior furnishings. At Simple Getaway, we are qualified in interior design and can be available to give our homeowners tips on what works best for a holiday let. What is most important is to make sure things will photograph well. Looking for clean, sharp lines and texture will be important to consider. We suggest white linens and towels, giving the sense of a clean space for guests, and adding colour by using artwork, cushions or decorative items.

All too often, holiday let homes can be quite sparse, with lots of plain white furniture. You want your guests to feel comfortable in your space and enable them to imagine themselves staying there. Add some greenery to give some life into the space, artwork on the walls for colour, and lamps for some interest and variation in lighting.

Holiday Let Gas Safety

Much like long term rentals, there are safety requirements to renting a holiday let. As a holiday let owner, you are legally required to obtain a gas safety certificate by a gas safe registered engineer. They will assess any gas appliances in your property and make sure they are safe. Usually these cost between £75 – £150 depending upon the amount of gas appliances in your home. At Simple Getaway, we are able to give you the contact details of our gas safety experts. This has to be done on an annual basis so make sure you keep that in your diary!

Electrical Safety

Whilst you are not required legally to obtain an electrical safety certificate, as the holiday let owner, you are required to make sure your electrical items are safe and not hazardous to guests. We recommend that you have an electrical safety certificate completed for peace of mind that all items in your property are safe for guests and make sure checks are undertaken every couple of years.

Fire Safety

Fire safety checks should be performed on your holiday let prior to renting to guests. You can complete this yourself, though we do recommend that you hire a professional the first time to make sure everything is addressed. Legally, you are required to have a smoke alarm on each floor of the property and make sure these are maintained. We highly recommend installing a fire extinguisher and fire blanket in case of emergencies. A fire exit plan is also a good idea.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide detectors are required in each room that has a fossil fuel burning device. We recommend installing a carbon monoxide detector in each room (living room, kitchen, bedroom, dining room) to make sure no issues arise. They cost around £10 each so are well worth the precaution.

Do You Need a License for a Holiday Let?

We are often asked, ‘do you need a license for a holiday let?’. Whilst there is no particular license required of a holiday let owner, it is important to take into consideration the legal requirements for safety laid out above. As regulations change, there may be a requirement in the future to have a license, however, at this time, there is no specific requirement for a holiday let landlord.

When it comes to TV licenses, you do have to apply. When guests travel to your property, they are not covered by their home TV license. Therefore, if you are supplying a TV in your property with live TV, you must get a hotel TV license which is around £150. If you only offer a Netflix streaming service on your TV, you do not need a TV license.

Furnished Holiday Let and Business Rates

If you set up a holiday let, there can be tax advantages. We outlined some of these in our previous blog:

Long Term Vs Short Term Rentals

Essentially, if you set up your property as a furnished holiday let, you can offset some of your initial furnishing expenses and ongoing maintenance and utility bills. However, there are some requirements to be met in order to be considered a furnished holiday let such as making your holiday let available for 210 days of the year, and renting it out for a minimum of 105 days in the year.

Picking a Property Manager

If you want to use a management service to rent your holiday let then you will try to find the best holiday letting company in your area. There are things to consider when choosing the best holiday letting company for your specific needs. To understand some of the benefits of using a holiday letting company, have a look at our last blog:

Benefits of Using a Holiday Home Management Company

There are a lot of holiday letting companies to choose from, so it is important to do your research and ask the right questions. For some guidance questions, have a look at the following blog:

What to ask when considering a holiday letting company

What to Ask When Considering a Holiday Letting Company

Holiday Home Management | Kitchen | The Bakery | Arundel Holiday Homes | Simple Getaway

Managing a holiday let can be a very time consuming process. Sometimes people buy a holiday let and immediately put the management in the hands of a holiday letting company. Other times, people manage their own holiday let and then switch to holiday letting company to take on the work after experiencing the strain of the work involved.

Either way, when searching for a holiday letting company it is important to do your research and make sure you are asking the right questions. We’ve put together a list of the questions we get asked the most.

What Do Airbnb Property Managers Charge?

Well, that depends. There is a difference between a booking agent, and a full management service. At Simple Getaway, we are a full management service, meaning that when you list your home with us, we take care of everything else, from guest communication, to cleaning, to maintenance etc. Market rates vary between 12%-30% depending on the type of service, and more importantly, the type of holiday letting management. Be careful in signing on for too much or too little, you want to make sure you are getting the right level of service for the amount you are paying.

Where Do You Advertise My Holiday Home?

If the answer is Airbnb then that is great, however, there are various other websites where your property can be listed in order to gain maximum exposure; VRBO, Booking.com and Tripadvisor being the most well known, but smaller niche sites can be popular depending on the type and location of your property. At Simple Getaway, we were selected to appear on ‘The Plum Guide’, a network of some of the best holiday lets in the world. Only the top 3% of homes are selected and our holiday lets made the cut! Contact us and see if we can list you too!

Do You Advertise My Holiday Let on Your Website?

Whilst most companies can’t compete with the big online travel agencies (Airbnb, Booking.com etc), that doesn’t mean that having an online presence is pointless. In fact, when guests book directly, it saves both them and you money as additional fees charged on the big sites are avoided. Direct bookings usually come as a result of repeat guests and recommendations so making sure your holiday let management has a website is a good idea.

What Makes You the Best Holiday Letting Company?

A holiday letting company should know their unique selling point, and why you should choose them to manage your holiday let. At Simple Getaway, we have a few tricks up our sleeve – find out more about us by giving us a call

How Much Does it Cost to Clean a Holiday Let?

Obviously this varies from house to house depending on size and bedroom count. It also depends upon the model that holiday letting company uses. We handle all our cleaning with various cleaning crews and take care of all of the linens to ensure they are clean and crisp for every arrival. Some cleaning companies may not handle the linens so you need to check. Some property managers may charge the guest for the cleaning whereas others may charge the homeowner, some may charge neither! Either way is fine, but it is something you should know before signing on with a holiday letting company.

Is Holiday Letting Profitable?

Are you renting the property out full time, what are your utility bills and maintenance costs, is your home well looked after? Only you will know if your holiday let will be profitable depending upon the bills you pay. However, the best holiday letting companies will be able to give you some advice about how much you are likely to receive in terms of rental income if you rent your home out. At Simple Getaway, we go beyond, and give you real data insights that can show you exactly what your holiday let rental potential could be. Contact us to find out more.

Does Airbnb Offer Property Management Services?

The short answer is no. Airbnb does not have their own property management service, they simply exist as a platform, whereby you can list your own property for rent, or someone else can list it on your behalf. Most property managers would hold a contract with you directly and would then list your property on Airbnb, and/or various other platforms.

What Should I Provide for My Holiday Let and How Do I Furnish My Holiday Rental?

The best property management companies will be able to give you plenty of guidance on what to provide, and how best to furnish your holiday let. We previously wrote a blog on the items you should provide – read the blog here for some ideas:

What to provide in your holiday let

When it comes to furnishing your home, there are definitely some things to consider. The best first step is to consider the use of the property, who your potential guests are likely to be, young couples, business groups, families with young children, pets, elderly visitors. Each of these groups may be geared towards slightly different functionality so it is important to think about. What would you look for in renting a holiday let? Make sure you keep your interiors clean, whilst ensuring that they stand out in a listing. Our team at Simple Getaway is qualified in interior design. We would be happy to give some guidance to our holiday let homeowners and share our past projects portfolio.

Which is the Best Holiday Letting Company?

Simple Getaway! We manage homes in East and West Sussex and would be delighted to hear from you regarding your holiday let. Whatever service you are looking for, please give us a call or send us an email and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Benefits of Using a Holiday Let Management Company

Kitchen | No.42 | Arundel Holiday Homes | Simple Getaway

We are asked many questions by our property owners before listing their property with us. As expected, many questions revolve around the financial aspect and, ‘what do Airbnb managers charge?’. It is an important question and may be the pivoting point between whether or not to choose a property management company for your holiday home. At Simple Getaway, we will be honest about the cost of our services, but we want our owners to understand the benefits of using a holiday let management company, and why we charge what we do.

Holiday Let Management Costs

Hiring a holiday let management company can reduce the time and cost of running the property. From promoting the home, providing customer service for the guests, to cleaning and maintaining the holiday home throughout the year.

We endeavour to make owners and guests happy with their holiday let property but in order to do so, there are lots of things to handle along the way. Below are just some of the things that property management companies do, and why you benefit from hiring one to manage your holiday home.

Handling Guest Enquiries

Guests are extremely important, and without them, you do not reap the financial benefits of listing a holiday let for rent. So, it is important to engage them and then keep them happy during the booking process and beyond.

It is vital for a property manager to respond to guest enquiries as quickly as possible. Often, a guest will target multiple properties they are interested in and if you are the first to respond it is highly likely that they will end up booking your home. We aim to respond to all enquiries immediately and on average, our statistics show that we respond within an hour – pretty good considering some of these come in the middle of the night!

A property management company is dedicated to responding as quickly as possible but without one you may not be able to respond quite so fast. You are probably busy, in a business meeting, doing the school run, enjoying time in a remote holiday destination. All of these things would impact your ability to respond in a timely manner and you run the risk of losing that consumer engagement.

Holiday Let Cleaning Management

A good property management company usually has a standardised cleaning schedule for each of their homes, and typically would have more than one cleaning company or staff. If you manage your home yourself, you may clean it yourself, or you may have a cleaner. But what about those instances where the cleaner doesn’t show up, or is unwell?

If this happens with us, we can typically rely on one of our other teams to jump in last minute and help out making sure that a guest turns up to a clean house every time. If you hire a property management company, you can rest assured that each time a guest checks out, your home is being cleaned to a professional standard.

Holiday Let Maintenance

It is inevitable that things will break from time to time and most of the time your guests will understand that. However, it is important that any issue is attended to timely, particularly if there are guests in your home and it is impacting their stay.

As a property management company, we have our own maintenance teams, dedicated to ensuring that your property and all its parts, work as they are meant to. For smaller maintenance items, we are quickly able to have our team on site to assist and will even carry out routine maintenance checks to locate problems ahead of time. Preventative maintenance is key, and we aim to keep potential problems at bay for each of our homes.

For more specific work, we have good relationships with a number of professional contractors and can usually get issues attended to quicker than you would as a new customer. These relationships can be crucial particularly when dealing with fundamental issues such as a broken boiler, which must be dealt with very quickly!

Useful Data Insights

We use software that enables us to understand the pricing in the area at any given moment in time. That means we get the most competitive pricing for your property and make sure that you maximise bookings and returns on your holiday let. As well as this, we use a software system that updates these prices across all travel agency platforms every single day ensuring that you are continually optimised at all times.

Oversight

Unlike large national companies, we are local and make sure that we keep an eye on your property throughout the year. From regular check ins, routine maintenance, high standard cleaning and top-class technology, we make sure that your property is being looked after. When you list your property with us, you can rest assured that we will make sure your home is kept clean, maintained and booked!

There are many reasons why choosing a property management company can be beneficial for your holiday let. If you have a holiday let and are considering using a property manager, contact us today and we can walk you through the process.

The Sussex Trug

Rooftop Deck | New Park Terrace | Chichester Holiday Home | Simple Getaway

Sussex is home to many historical sites and natural beauty. From the Roman Palace and Gardens in Fishbourne, to the medieval castle in Lewes, to the long stretch of the wildlife of the South Downs, there is plenty to talk about when immersing yourself in Sussex history. Less widely known, are the stories of some of Sussex’s local products which have their own rich histories and traditions.

History of The Sussex Trug

The Sussex Trug is one of those products which has been a part of Sussex history for almost two centuries. The Trug was developed from a design of a ‘trog’ meaning ‘boat-shaped vessel’ and was used by the Anglo Saxons as far back as the 1600s. The trog was originally used in multiple different sizes as a measuring tool to weigh grains and liquids, but their uses were prohibited due to their weight.

Thomas Smith’s Trug

These original trogs were redeveloped in the 1800s by Thomas Smith who determined that the same style of basket could be used, but in a lightweight material to make them highly functional for use in farms and gardens. There are claims that these trugs were made by other families in Sussex prior to Thomas Smith but this remains unproven due to a lack of a written record. The story of Thomas Smith is one that has passed down through the ages and remains the best account we have to date.

Thomas Smith, who hailed from Herstmonceux in Sussex originally, made the newly invented Trug out of sweet chestnut wood and cricket bat willow wood. Both kinds of wood had attributes that made them perfect for use in creating a lightweight basket. Sweet chestnut is a hardwood, resistant to rot and solid in its properties, making it a good material for use as a frame for the basket. Cricket bat willow is a lighter wood which is malleable, making it the ideal complement to the hardwood frame, resulting in an overall lightweight basket.

Trug Uses in the 1800s

These baskets were seen all over Sussex in the early to mid-1800s. They were used in fields, farms and gardens to collect and carry crops. Their lightweight features and durability made them an excellent choice for harvesting and weighing produce for farmers for many years and their production continued successfully throughout that time.

Royal Sussex Trug

It was in 1851 when Thomas Smith and his Sussex Trug became world-famous. In an exhibition in London, his trugs caught the eye of Queen Victoria who reigned from 1837 to 1901. She put in an order for the trugs for members of the royal family and later, Thomas Smith was awarded a Royal Warrant meaning that the Sussex Trug was now officially coined the Royal Sussex Trug. After the late Queen gave her seal of approval, the Royal Sussex Trug found its way onto the global marketplace to be used in many locations far beyond the realms of Sussex.

Sussex Trugs Today

To this day, Sussex Trugs are still being produced locally, albeit in a different manner. Top-quality birch is now used as the primary wood for the basket which is softened in boiling water and then bent and manipulated into position. They are almost completely hand made as they always were and are now exported all over the world. Though their uses in agriculture are far less than they once were, the Sussex Trug is still a useful item for gardeners, and a beautifully handcrafted piece of tradition to have as a talking point.

At Simple Getaway, we aim to keep this local Sussex tradition alive. For each home that we manage, we supply our property owners with their own Sussex Trug to display in their holiday let. Just a small appreciation for our property owners, guests and the beautiful historic county in which we live and work!

Want to see Sussex Trug production in action? Just stop by the Cuckmere Trug Company, Thomas Smith’s Trug Shop located in Herstmonceux, East Sussex.

Insurance for Holiday Lets

Indoor Pool | Beachside Way | East Preston Holiday Home | Simple Getaway

The holiday let industry is a newer phenomenon in the UK. It has gained momentum over recent years due to the ease of renting your home through outlets such as Airbnb, Homeaway, Booking.com and many more.

As a property manager of holiday lets, we are often asked what is required before renting out a home. At Simple Getaway, we can take over the vast majority of requirements, however, there are some things we are unable to do without being the property owner. One of those trickier items is insurance.

Home insurance for holiday lets is different from the insurance you have for your full-time home. Insurers state that your holiday let can be unoccupied for a long time, resulting in a greater risk of theft or damage. In addition, if you let your property out for financial gain, whether by yourself or through a property manager like Simple Getaway, your risk increases further. There are many options available for holiday let insurance if you want to let your property out, but it is important to understand the requirements and what is essential to limit your exposure.

Standard Property Insurance

There are three main types of insurance, all of which would be required for a holiday let just like they would your own home:

Buildings Insurance

Firstly, buildings insurance. Buildings insurance typically covers your home in case of loss due to fire, floods or other events. It essentially covers the cost to rebuild your home if it is lost due to an incident.

Contents Insurance

Secondly, contents insurance. For holiday lets, this is just as important as your personal home. Though you may not have stocked your holiday home full of antiques and sentimental goods, contents insurance is crucial to cover the loss of any furnishings, in addition to, carpets, curtains and white goods. If you are setting up your first holiday let, keep track of all of the costs so you can get an accurate quote to your insurance agent.

Accidental Damage

Thirdly, accidental damage. Most policies will cover theft and break-ins, but given the nature of holiday lets being unoccupied more than your personal home, it is wise to add accidental insurance. Moreover, it may be a good idea to have some security measures in place to protect your holiday let.

Specific Holiday Let Insurance

There are three additional insurances that are not covered by your standard home insurance policy which are crucial to have before renting out your holiday let.

Loss of Rent Insurance

Loss of Rent insurance is extremely important. Should your home be damaged and you have to rebuild part or all of the structure then you will be missing out on a significant amount of rent whilst your property is being repaired. You will have to estimate the losses based on past or expected data, but with loss of rent, your insurance company will cover the lost revenue until the property is rebuilt or repaired. Usually, this loss of rent is covered for a limited time period and limited payout so you would need to speak with your insurance agent to get the specifics.

Liability Insurance

Liability insurance is another extremely important insurance to have. Public liability cover for your holiday let will cover any of your guests for bodily injury or damage caused at the property. In addition, employer liability insurance will cover any staff injuries caused at the property, perhaps by members of the property management company, cleaners, maintenance staff, gardeners etc.

Holiday Let Insurance

Lastly, holiday let insurance can provide you with legal expenses cover. This will help to cover any expenses you may incur due to disputes with renters, for example, if there is an accident on the property, or if they refuse to pay for damages. Legal expenses add up very quickly so it’s important to have this cover to limit the exposure to you.

Make sure your insurance agent has specific experience in the holiday let insurance. There are plenty out there to choose from, just confirm the specific coverages with them before signing on the line.

If you need more help from us at Simple Getaway, contact us. Though we cannot claim to be experts in holiday let insurance, we are certainly experts in property management and would love the opportunity to see how we can help you!

What to Provide in Your Holiday Let

Reading Books | Beachside Way | East Preston Holiday Home | Simple Getaway

Setting up your holiday let can be both exciting and stressful. Often people ask what they need to provide in a rental before it is ready to market it. Here we outline those items that are absolute must-haves, along with those that are not essential but certainly good to include too!

Your holiday let acts as a hotel equivalent so thinking about what is provided in a hotel room is a good place to start.

Holiday Let Essential Items

Sheets and Towels

The most crucial supply for any home is their sheets and towels. Guests are spending the night so ensure that your sheets are comfy and your towels are fluffy. We have had many comments on the quality of our sheets and mattresses and having less than satisfactory items can really damage your reviews. We opt for white in our rentals as it gives a crisp clean feel but it is sensible to get some washcloths in a darker colour to keep makeup stains at bay.

Toiletries

It is always important to stock toilet paper and hand soap for your guests. We recommend a couple of rolls per bathroom for a weekend stay and a couple of extra for a week-long stay. Making sure that your soap stays topped up is a must.

Kitchen

Depending on the number of people your property sleeps, you will always want to make sure you have an adequate supply of dinnerware. Make sure you have enough plates, bowls, cutlery, cups, glasses etc to serve the maximum amount of guests your property can hold, plus a few extra for breakages. A full set of pots and pans is a good idea, and most of all, make sure you have a kettle and a coffee maker.

Cleaning Items

Whilst cleaning before and after can take care of most of the cleaning of the property, you should supply some cleaning supplies for your guests. Dish soap, a sponge, bin liners, a broom and a dustpan and brush should all be ready for guests to use.

Bedroom

If you have a place to hang clothes at the property, make sure you supply an adequate amount of hangers. It’s good to have hangers that match but just make sure you have enough.

Safety Supplies

There are regulations in the UK that require you to make regular safety checks on your holiday let. For that, you need working smoke alarms and preferably a fire extinguisher, one on every floor. First aid kits are not required by law, but it’s certainly a good amenity to have if you are renting out your holiday let to guests.

Wifi

Wifi has become essential to holiday lets. Without offering that service, you are unlikely to see a full calendar of bookings. Many people travel for work and need to have access to wifi in their rental property. Make sure you have a good service and connection all over the house by adding some boosters for large or tall properties.

Non-Essential Items for A Holiday Let

There are many items that are not essential in order to list your holiday let but they are certainly nice to have. Below is our list of those:

  • Washer
  • Dryer
  • Desk space
  • Kitchen roll
  • Dishwasher tablets (if applicable)
  • Body soap/shampoo/conditioner
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Iron and board
  • Luggage racks
  • Hairdryer
  • Salt/pepper
  • Cooking oil
  • Beach towels (if applicable)
  • Information book
  • Games/entertainment

Whether you are looking to furnish your property to the highest standard or just to make your guests comfortable, you must ensure to have all of the essentials ready and waiting. If you want the added luxuries then even better!

At Simple Getaway, we are here to help you in setting up your holiday let in addition to managing it. If you want us to take care of all the setup, we can certainly do that too, just contact us and we will work on a plan.

Long Term Vs Short Term Rentals

Hallway | New Park Terrace | Chichester Holiday Home | Simple Getaway

Have you ever asked yourself whether or not to switch your traditional long term rental into a short term rental?

Many of us have, and at Simple Getaway, we have managed both types in the past and have first-hand experience to share.

Long Term Rentals

Long term rentals are the traditional method of renting. Usually, you would rent your home out on a fixed term, fixed fee schedule. Typically rentals last around a year but can be renewed on an annual basis whereby the rent may be raised by 5% per annum or similar. Some landlords may have tenants for 6 months, 2 years or even 20 years depending on their situation. So what are the benefits of this type of model?

Steady Income

Probably the most obvious benefit is the steady income you receive from a long term rental. So long as there are no issues with the tenancy, landlords can rest assured that they will receive the same amount of income on their property on a monthly basis for as long as the tenancy continues. This makes for easier forecasting for the property owner and peace of mind that their income is secured for the foreseeable future.

Minimal Set up Costs

Unlike short term rentals, long term rentals require very minimal costs to set up. As a landlord, you may want to spend some money getting the property updated or cleaned but other than that, the property is usually ready to rent quickly.

No Council Tax

If you are renting out your property on a long term basis, the council tax owed is passed onto the tenant and not the landlord. In some areas, this council tax amount is quite significant and could add up to the equivalent of a month or two in rent.

Minimal Effort

There is usually a lot less effort needed when it comes to renting on a long term basis. There is work required in setting up the property and sourcing good tenants, but once leases and contracts are signed, the only effort needed is to collect rent and make some repairs when necessary. Further still, if you use a property manager to manage your long term rental then you have even less work, just a small fee to pay.

So what about Short Term Lets?

Short term Rentals

The amount of short term rentals in the UK has increased rapidly within recent years. They have become an alternative source to make money on your rental property, and a way to subsidise your income if renting out your personal home.

So what are the benefits to short term rentals over long term rentals?

Potential for Greater Revenues

Short term rentals have the ability to yield far greater returns than long term rentals. Though this does depend on location, quality of rental, and personal revenue goals, there is a high chance that your short term rental will perform better than a long term rental in the same area. In fact, at Simple Getaway, we have seen short term rentals perform over 5 times better than long term rentals in some areas.

Greater Flexibility

Since you are renting out the property on a short term basis, meaning anywhere between one night and a few weeks, you have far greater flexibility on your rental guests. With greater flexibility, you also allow yourself the ability to use the property for yourself or family and friends.

Property Care

Short term rentals are frequently visited by cleaning staff who turn over the property after every rental guest. If you have good staff, they can notify you of any problems they come across so that you are able to fix them promptly. Utilising a maintenance service can also mean that you take preventative measures that will ensure that your deferred maintenance is at a minimum. When you rent your property long term, you have to rely on your tenants to report issues or make regular inspections to see them for yourself.

Tax Benefits of Holiday Lets

There are numerous tax benefits that can be had with your furnished holiday let. One important tax benefit is when setting up your home. With furnished holiday lets, you can claim capital allowances for purchasing furnishings which can later be deducted from your pre-tax profit. In addition, ongoing expenses to maintain your homes such as utility bills, products purchased for the property, maintenance and cleaning costs can all be offset against your taxes.

Furthermore, one of the advantages of a long term let is that you are no longer responsible for paying your council tax. With a furnished holiday let, you are essentially treated as a business and therefore required to pay business rate property tax instead of council tax. However, with a furnished holiday let, it is possible to claim small business rate relief which can reduce the amount of council tax equivalent that you pay on your home, even down to as much as £0!

There are many benefits to renting your property short term as opposed to long term but there is certainly more work involved. If you want to benefit from the advantages of renting your property on a short term basis but don’t want the hassle, give Simple Getaway a call. At Simple Getaway, we manage short term properties throughout East and West Sussex and would be delighted to speak to you about what we offer. Contact us today and find out more!

Sussex Insider- Adventures for Life

Sussex Countryside | Simple Getaway

From 1989 to 2020 – Growing up in West Sussex 

Sneaking out was our best-kept secret as kids. Back then I lived in a 300-year-old converted barn, set beside the River Rife, West Sussex, made of flint and mortar with vertical vent slots set into the stone from which, I always imagined, Archers shot their arrows at invaders. I remember the day my father took me to see our new home, before its conversion, when it housed a few hundred pigeons in its sagging roof and a century of their droppings on the ground. ‘We’re going to live here?’ Knee deep in bird mess, I was mortified. ‘Yes, Son’, he marvelled, with visionary confidence I had yet to grasp… And so we did. With it, dawned a world of adventure from the house walls and beyond. 

Luckily, my new bedroom was tucked into the roof of the offset adjoining garage. A small window beneath the rafters opened above a head-height flint wall below. Out of earshot of the parents, whose bedroom was on the far side of the barn, it was the perfect escape. A few friends and I would meet at the house for a ‘sleepover’ at the weekends. We’d wait, in anticipation, all evening, for darkness to roll in and the parents to head to bed. As soon as we clocked their bedroom light go off, the count down was on. Half an hour was the minimum we’d wait, sometimes more, never less. They had to be deep asleep so that the security light that flickered on when we hot-footed across the driveway wouldn’t wake them. When it was time, we made our escape. We crew of bunny eyed kids ran into the night, giddy with the enormity of our perilous new freedom. 

Which is a little hard to stomach from a parent’s standpoint, I know. But the thought is often worse than the reality. 

You see, in West Sussex, you can get away with it. It is invitingly open, quiet, authentic. Wholesome for the young adventurer. In the late summer night, we would mission into the cornfields, beneath the downs, rolling the giant cylinder hay bails together and build giant forts, to the bewilderment of the next day’s farmer.

It is worn, rural, quirky. It breathes life into the imagination. If we had enough bikes we would pedal to the top of Highdown Hill and stand atop the ancient Saxon settlement, looking mightily upon the satellite villages, lit up in patches, along the dark coast, for miles. 

Its diversity of terrain is endless. Chalky hills, wide meadows, grass banked rivers, stunning pebbled coastline, Oakland, wooded parks are all to be explored in wide-eyed wonder. On a stormy night, we would head to the beach to see the thunder and lightning in its panoramic glory. In ecstatic defiance, we would dare each other to stand upon the highest pillar of the wooden breakwaters, tempting that Gods fry us with a bolt of white light. We would test the sea, running as far out down the shingle as we could between crashing waves. 

The architecture, old and new, is built with a level of respect. The affluent estates on the coast attract the wealthy who build big, solid mansions able to withstand centuries of battering from winter gales. The construction sites made perfect mission bases. We bellied under the fence and ran riot around the huge houses to be. Fireman poling the scaffolding and scaling ladders like James Bond, we’d recce every room. A friend once accidentally knocked a steel girder off the third floor, the bang must have woken half the county. 

And how different my life would have been had we not had our greatest base of all, our treehouse. Built-in the farmers copse beside a field. For years we worked on it, extended it, improved it. In the end, we had it insulated, carpeted, waterproofed, with electricity buried right through the woods to my friend’s house. We even built a tiled fireplace, until the day we inevitably burned the whole lot down. The nights in the treehouse were the best of all.

On and on went our adventures in Sussex. Now, as an adult, I’m a little less ‘bunny eyed’ but a lot more appreciative of Sussex for its beauty, its grandeur. Even a few of its locals.  

Arundel castle bears rightful claim the grandest of castles upon the hills. It stands above the Arundel plains and Arun river in profound dominance. Fantasy-like. It’s gardens, edible and not, are a cherished secret of Sussex. The interior, fully habitable and furnished as original, is a window to another life. Arundel village reflects the authenticity of the old and humble. Bakeries, pubs, butchery, antique shops, tiny steep cobbled streets, immovable medieval architecture, leaning houses and class eateries are as quality as it gets. 

Pubs litter the sides of every potholed country lane. No elaboration needed, think of a hearty pub and that’s what you’ll find. Pub crawls attract any wanderer looking to lubricate the imagination and are a past-time to be sorely forgotten. They’ll accept most muddy cyclists, wet kids, dogs or well-oiled travellers. 

Although why not crawl somewhere else?  Take the back roads and Cafe crawl your way from village to village. Manor House and quaint village hop from Pulborough to Amberly to Houghton to Bury. If you can handle anymore history, then castle hops from Guildford to Cowdray to Amberly to Knepp. Load up with wine on the route from the stunning microclimate haven of Nutbourne vineyards and it’s over-seeing windmill. 

Cycle the South Downs way, yawing up and down with ever-changing scenery and a consistently good view. 

Spend the day crabbing from Littlehampton or head out to sea with the local fisherman moored beneath the promenade. Hire a yacht and sail to beloved Brighton for the day. 

Dare I say it, go shopping.

To this day I explore. I love it, it’s endless. I’m a product of my environment. The open pastures, silent nights, charming seaside and wild diversity of Sussex gave me the gift of imagination and the opportunity to tell stories in fond memory. Adventure comes from ‘Aventure’ meaning, ‘that which happens by chance’. We snuck out as kids, we had our adventures and, by chance, found a passion for life.