Renting your home to holidaymakers

Have you ever considered renting your home to holidaymakers? We take a closer look at how best to go about it.

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By Maryke Roberts

Extra income is always welcome, so why not make your house earn some cash while you’re on holiday? Renting out your home, holiday house or apartment can be a lucrative exercise but, warn rental agents, it’s essential to plan everything carefully before handing over the keys.

What’s on offer?
First of all, take a look at your property objectively: is it basic low maintenance, average or luxury accommodation? Holidaymakers’ expectations are high and luxury accommodation means air conditioning, satellite TV, good security, a lush garden or balcony with a view, and internet access are all part of the package. And remember, even basic self-catering facilities should be clean and neat.

Who is your market?
Know who you’re catering for: an apartment in the city is likely to attract younger visitors keen to enjoy clubs and restaurants, while larger homes in the country are more suited to families who want to get away from it all and cater for themselves. Properties located close to attractions such as the beach or hiking trails will all draw a particular market.

Rates
To attract guests, you have to structure your pricing based on the size of your property, the amenities it offers, and its location – international visitors, for example, may be reluctant to drive long distances to their accommodation after a long flight. Be realistic and browse the internet to see what others in your area are charging for roughly the same amenities as yours. Also, be aware of factors that will affect your profit margins. If your price is low and your tenants use a lot of water and electricity, you may only just break even – which is hardly worth it, warns Cheryl Anley, a rental consultant for RE/Max in Plettenberg Bay.

Décor
Cheryl reminds prospective landlords that people’s tastes differ. ‘Keep it simple: stick with neutral colours and practical accessories, and buy quality furniture,’ she advises. Cheryl’s golden rule is: lock away all your valuables and remove photos and frills from your home. This way guests don’t feel like they’re intruding and won’t feel responsible for taking extra care with heirlooms. Also, make sure you provide ample board games, books and magazines to keep them occupied on rainy days.

Management
Agents who specialise in letting holiday properties will do all the legwork when it comes to potential tenants and they’ll also collect the rent, saving you time and energy. They have plenty of experience in the industry and know what pitfalls to avoid, and if you’re unavailable, they can assist tenants in case of an emergency, says Annette du Plessis of Rentahome in the Strand. Should you choose to manage the rental yourself, inform your local tourism bureau of the accomodation and amenities available so they can pass this information on to interested holidaymakers. Also consider advertising in travel magazines and online directories. Overseeing the entire rental process can be hard work but this ensures that the full rental fee comes directly to you.

Checklist
Make sure you’re ready for holidaymakers:
• Notify your insurer that you require coverage for people other than those specified in your policy, and let your home loan institution know that you are renting out your property.
• Draw up a contract that includes the rental, deposit and cancellation fee, as well as an inventory of the contents of the dwelling.
• Check the electricity and water flow, replace broken plugs and bulbs, and repair broken tiles.
• Display emergency numbers and a list of local activities in a convenient location.
• Declare the extra income when submitting your tax return, bearing in mind that you may also deduct certain expenses from this income.

What about the neighbours?
Consider your neighbours at all times: residents don’t want to be disturbed by noisy holidaymakers, and those on holiday don’t want to be bothered by nosy neighbours.

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