How to safely rent out your holiday home

Holiday homes have grown in popularity over the years as cash-strapped South Africans opt to go off the beaten path to look for accommodation close to prime vacation spots. If you have an unused property, you may be able to use that to your advantage by renting it out as a holiday house. But be warned, there are steps you will have to take to ensure that the venture is a success.

“The Net has made it really easy to rent out unused space, and we receive a lot of feedback from happy holiday-goers (and owners) who use Gumtree for this exact purpose, but it’s important to be aware of possible risks,” says Claire Cobbledick, Head of Marketing, Gumtree SA. “Make sure that you cover all the basics before committing.”

Cobbledick advises owners to investigate legal considerations and insurance. “Public liability insurance is important, should a holiday-goer be injured on your property. Likewise, you should draw up a short rental agreement that includes terms and conditions, the deposit amount and liability for damages. In most cases, things go smoothly, but it’s best to prepare for any and all eventualities.”

There are also a few other tips to bear in mind to make the most of opportunity:

  1. Don’t undervalue the rental

“Even if your home offers just the basics, remember that every hotel and guest house in the area charges a premium fee in the peak season – you can afford to charge a little more, especially if you are in a prime vacation spot. You may also incur expenses, such as professionally cleaning and maintaining the property after use, that should be accounted for. There will also be tax implications as you are earning extra income from the property, but also great deductibles such as maintenance, security etc.”

  1. Declutter and decorate accordingly

“Second properties often become storage units where we keep all our furniture and appliances that don’t fit in anywhere else. While a good holiday rental doesn’t be styled like a spread from a décor magazine, it has to be presentable and uncluttered. Box up your unwanted trinkets and sell them off before renting it out.”

  1. Invest in the necessary items

“Although everyone in your family knows the best way to get TV reception in your holiday home is by switching on the lights and simultaneously running the shower, a paying guest isn’t going to be happy with faulty appliances and plumbing. Sort out the necessary niggles before offering up your rental, or risk the ire of the holidaying community – word spreads fast. And while you don’t have to rush to store to stock up on new furniture, invest in good quality sheets, pots and pans and kitchenware that guests will be using.”

  1. Make an inventory list

“Keep a list of items in the kitchen cupboards on the door on the fridge, and tell guests to alert you if something is missing. It’s easy for a guest to inadvertently walk away with your bottle opener or cheese grater, which can be annoying for the next visitor. Make sure you know what is meant to be there so that you can do a quick stock-take before new guests check in.”

  1. Get the ad right

“When advertising the property, make sure that you include plenty of good quality pictures and a detailed description. Make sure that guests know when the property will be available, and what added extras they can look forward to (such as wi-fi, DSTV, a pool etc). Also make sure to let guests know upfront if you are renting out a space that is pet friendly or non-smoking.”