1. What makes a popular holiday cottage?
Here’s what guests tend to look for when choosing which holiday cottage to book:
- Pet friendly
- Open fire/woodburner
Don’t worry if your cottage doesn’t have all these things. Guests are not all looking for the same thing and there will plenty of aspects of your cottage that they love.
2. How many bathrooms do I need?
As a general rule, the more bathrooms the better but it’s also fine if you have just the one bathroom. Cottages with one bathroom tend to let just as well as cottages with two or more.
Guests do tend to like a modern bathroom, with good water pressure. If your cottage is suitable for families, then small children often prefer a bath to a shower so if you can provide both, that’s fabulous.
3. Should I provide a welcome pack?
It’s bizarre because guests (myself included) tend to remember a welcome pack – it’s that forbidden treat of biscuits or wine that makes the difference, and the knowledge that someone cares about both the house and guests staying there.
If you are going to leave a welcome pack, then I would suggest you provide something with a long shelf life – that way you don’t need to be popping to the shops every week which can take a surprising amount of time.
4. Should I accept dogs?
Without a doubt, the cottages that are the most popular are the ones that welcome pets. You can limit it to one, two, three (or more) dogs and we’re always very careful to let guests know that dogs are to be kept out of the bedrooms and off the furniture – they are reminded in the letter that tells them about how to gain access to the cottage so they most definitely know this rule. We also charge a bit extra for dogs in order to cover the extra cleaning costs.
If you prefer not to take dogs, we will still be able to take bookings for your cottage, and sometimes guests specifically request a cottage that is pet free, especially if someone in their group has allergies.
5. Do I need to provide wifi?
Most of the cottages we let do provide wifi, although it’s not essential. It is a question that we often get asked by guests prior to booking a cottage (or that gets mentioned after someone has stayed if it’s not provided).
If your cottage has no mobile signal, it’s a good idea to provide wifi because it means that visitors can make emergency phone calls via the wifi if there is a problem.
6. Who cleans the holiday cottage?
We can organise this for you if you join our Managed Service. We tend to have a specific cleaner for each individual cottages – that way the cleaner knows the cottage inside out and can let us know if there is any maintenance needed, and also it’s nice to be able to take a pride in what you do which you can do if you have responsibility for a particular cottage. Obviously if the cleaner for your cottage is away, then we can ask another cleaner to step in. We keep in regular touch with all our cleaners.
Or you may prefer to be a part of our “bookings only” service, in which case you will be able to find your own cleaner or do it yourself.
7. Should I accept short breaks?
If you accept short breaks over Winter and during mid-season (outside of the school holidays) you will get more bookings. We tend to charge a short break out at 75% of the weekly rate because your cleaning and changeover costs are the same whether people stay a week or a weekend.
8. Will I get visitors during the winter?
We get visitors all year round. During Winter people tend to come for weekend breaks rather than full weeks (unless it’s Christmas or New Year). January tends to be quiet – this is a good time of year to do any big maintenance projects.
9. Which is better – a small or a big holiday cottage?
Both are popular. A big holiday cottage will turnover more than a small cottage but then the costs will be higher (as well as changeover costs larger cottages that sleep 10 or more tend to need more maintenance). That said, cottages sleeping 10 or more are very popular because there are not many self-catering cottages in the Lake District and Cumbria to sleep that many so there is less competition.
10. What are the costs of having a holiday cottage?
At Sally’s Cottages we charge a commission on any bookings we take. If you are on the full managed service, then there is also a small fee of £20 plus VAT per booking to organise everything here. All other costs are passed straight onto you and include cleaning (by the hour), clean bed linen (and towels if you would like), cleaning fluids, welcome pack, ongoing maintenance, etc.
You will also need to organise the following: heating and lighting, gardening, window cleaning, insurance, TV licence, tax and accountancy, phone line and wifi, council tax, water rates, mortgage interest (if you have a mortgage), landlord’s gas safety certificate (if you have gas at the property), pat testing, annual fire safety testing.
11. Why should I let my cottage with Sally’s Cottages?
We can give you all sorts of advice in the early stages about what works and what doesn’t. We can find a cleaner for you and put you in touch with good, local tradespeople to help maintain your cottage. Our aim is to make things as easy as possible both for you and for guests staying at your cottage. That’s why we’re open every day until 9pm.
We really care about what we do and I believe that it’s no coincidence that we’re the only independent agency with over 100 cottages in the Lake District. That’s why 98% of people staying at our cottages would book with us again.
One of the main benefits of coming with us is our marketing – we’re forever tweaking our website, writing blogs, writing articles, sending newsletters and posting posts on social media. And we spend an absolute fortune on Adwords and other advertising. Our Facebook page gets 10x the interaction that global agencies and platforms get, and more than that, the comments are really positive.
We also get professional photos taken of your cottage, at no charge to you, so we can really show the cottage off to its best advantage.
12. What are my legal requirements?
You will need to have buildings and contents insurance, plus specific holiday home insurance that includes public liability cover (at least £2million). You might want to also have accidental damage insurance of loss of earnings insurance (to protect your income should the worst happen).
All upholstered furniture, beds, headboards, mattresses, cushions, pillows must have fire resistant cover fabric and filling material. This does not apply to antique furniture made before 1950. The regulations came in in 1988 so anything bought after that will comply.
- Council Tax and Business Rates
If you holiday let your property for 140 days or more in a year you should register for business rates instead of council tax. You may be eligible for 100% relief depending on the rateable value so it can end up being much cheaper than you think.
Your portable appliances need to be tested annually (known as PAT testing). These are items with a plug eg toaster, kettle, bedside lamp etc. You are also required to have your electrics checked periodically, usually every 5 years (you will most likely find this is a requirement of your household insurance as well).
- Fire Safety
You need to have completed a fire risk assessment before you let your holiday cottage out. There is more information here: www.sallyscottages.co.uk/let-your-property-sallys-cottages/health-safety-cottages.
If you have an open fire or wood burning stove, the chimney or flue must be swept at least annually.
Here is a link to Government guidelines on fire safety when letting a cottage: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/11085/payingguests.pdf
- Carbon Monoxide
Your carbon monoxide detectors should be tested annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
- Gas Safety Certificate
If you have gas at your property, then you will need to have all gas appliances tested annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer, and a certificate displayed at the property.
- Private Water Supply
If your property is on a private water supply, this must be checked by the council annually, and filters regularly checked.
13. Do you visit all the holiday cottages you let?
Oh yes! It’s the best part of the job. It also means that we get to know the cottage and can talk to you properly about what you can expect to let it at, how many bookings you are likely to get, as well as answering any questions you might have.
14. Can I use my property myself?
Absolutely. It’s your cottage so it would be unfair to restrict you. You can come and stay as much as you want (unless someone has already booked it).
15. Can I take my own bookings?
If you’re on our ‘bookings-only’ service then you can take as many bookings as you like. We only ask that we both advertise the cottage at the same rates.
16. When do I get paid?
We will transfer the funds owing to you twice a month (by the 17th and by the last day of the month). By each date you will get the money that is owing to you for bookings that have arrived at your cottage since the last payment transfer.