This category is about all aspects of Holiday Home Letting and will be of interest to owners of holiday lets across the UK. As Holiday Home Insurance Specialists we are proud to share tips, guidance and articles.

Whether you own an individual holiday home or cottage or a holiday cottage complex our holiday home letting articles are for you. Subjects covered include taxation, online scams and regulations.

Check out these posts: Holiday Letting Terms and Conditions, Registration Schemes for Short Term Lets, Buying a Leasehold Apartment to Holiday Let, Holiday Lets and Tax – what you need to know.

holiday let bookings and coronavirus

holiday let bookings and coronavirusHoliday homeowners and holiday letting agents alike are understandably concerned about the potential for the disruption which coronavirus (Covid-19) may cause. Boshers have put together a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ’s). Hopefully these will help to clarify the position with respect to holiday let bookings and coronavirus. This includes details on cover provided by our holiday home insurance policy together with wider implications.

Whilst the primary concern for the disruption which coronavirus may cause is loss of income due to cancelled bookings, owners are also concerned about their liability towards guests and cleaning contractors. Hopefully these FAQ’s will help to clarify what is and isn’t covered under your holiday home insurance policy.

Holiday Let Bookings and Coronavirus – Frequently asked questions?

Q1. Does my policy include any cover for loss of rental income if the holiday home is directly affected by a `disease outbreak’?

There is some cover within the policy for loss of income as a result of a `specified disease’. The definition of specified disease specific to the loss of income cover is detailed in the policy wording. You can view the policy wording on our website here: https://www.boshers.co.uk/holiday-home-insurance/

Q2. Is Covid-19 a specified disease for the purpose of the policy wording?

No – In common with most other insurers, Covid-19 is not a specified disease in our policy wording. The extension under the loss of income section of our policy for `specified disease’ is based on a specific list of diseases which does not include new and emerging diseases like Covid-19. 

Q3. What about the fact that Covid-19 has been declared a `notifiable disease’ by the Government? 

Even though the Government has declared Covid-19 as a notifiable disease, this does not change the insurance position under the policy. As the chancellor said, you cannot retrospectively change contracts of insurance at this time without threatening the future of the insurance industry.   

Our holiday home insurance underwriter Ecclesiastical will continue to offer cover for `specified disease’, rather than for ‘notifiable’ or any infectious or contagious disease such as coronavirus. We are sorry that it is not economically viable to provide cover for pandemic viruses such as Covid-19, but with this approach you can be clear on what is and isn’t covered.

Q4. What if guests are prevented from taking up their bookings because they have been quarantined due to coronavirus?

There would not be cover under your policy as this is a booking your guests cannot fulfil. You would need to check your booking cancellation terms and conditions to determine how much refund your guests would be entitled to, if any. It may be that they can claim for the cost of the booking under their travel insurance if they have a policy in force. Travel insurance may cover non-refundable cancellation costs, in specific circumstances. These may include medical advice against your guest or a member of your guests’ group from travelling or government advice against travelling. The ABI have issued some information for travellers here: https://www.abi.org.uk/products-and-issues/topics-and-issues/coronavirus-qa/

Q5. What if guests choose to cancel their holiday because they are disinclined to travel because they are concerned about coronavirus?

In a similar manner to Q4 above, there would not be cover under your policy. This is a booking your guests are choosing not to fulfil. You would need to check your booking cancellation terms to determine how much refund your guests would be entitled to, if any. In this instance the guests’ travel insurance would not cover them as travel insurance is not designed to cover ‘disinclination to travel’ , where the Government advice has not changed to advise against travel.

Q6. What if guests currently staying in the property are forced to stay on because our area comes under quarantine?

There would not be cover under your policy as coronavirus is not a specified disease in our policy wording. In any event, it is unlikely that individuals will be prevented from travelling home at the end of their holiday. If a guest contracts coronavirus whilst on holiday it would be reasonable to expect them to return home to self-isolate.

Q7. How about liability cover?

Subject to the terms and conditions of Boshers Holiday Home Insurance policy, the Employers’ and Public Liability cover provides an indemnity to the policyholder if the policyholder is held legally liable for accidental bodily injury or illness arising in connection with the policyholder’s business of holiday letting.  

Q8. Should I ensure that my holiday home is deep cleaned on changeover day?

You have a duty of care towards any visitors to your holiday home to ensure that it is a safe environment. By taking reasonable steps to make sure that your holiday home is cleaned in accordance with Public Health guidelines, you will be fulfilling your duty of care. The best source of cleaning guidance can be found here:

The situation surrounding coronavirus is developing rapidly. It’s best to regularly check the government’s official guidance which is reviewed daily and updated frequently. If you are already a Boshers Holiday Home Insurance client and need any additional guidance on holiday let bookings and coronavirus by all means give our team a call on 01237 429444 or contact us by email. Equally if you have any holiday letting insurance related questions regarding coronavirus that we haven’t answered above, get in touch and we’ll do our upmost to answer them.

Not a Boshers client yet? We offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. If you need an insurance quote for your holiday let call us on 01237 429444. If we are closed use the quote form and we’ll be in touch during the next business day.

We all know that from time to time accidents happen; perhaps someone spills a glass of wine (hopefully not red!) or smashes a glass fresh from the dishwasher. We can accept those and understand that accidents happen to the best of us. However what if someone were to cause malicious damage to your holiday home? Whether the malicious damage is caused by a paying guest or a trespasser, you’ll be faced with making repairs before your next guests arrive.

Do you know where you stand and what you need to do when it comes to your insurance?

What is malicious damage?

In the insurance industry, the term ‘malicious damage’ generally refers to any damage caused to your property on purpose.  There is a clear distinction between this and ‘accidental damage’, in that the damage caused has to be proven as being deliberate, rather than just an accident (for example spilling wine after tripping or smashing a glass that slipped through the hands).

Check your holiday home insurance policy

As specialists in holiday home insurance, our aim is to always give our policy holders the right cover so that should something happen, you know you’re not going to be left significantly out of pocket.

Malicious damage is covered under our policy as standard but is not by all policies on the market, so if you’re not currently insured with us, it’s worth checking your own documents.

The financial implications of your holiday letting property suffering malicious damage can be far reaching. In addition to repairing the material damage to your buildings and / or contents you may also suffer loss of rental income.

What do you do if you think someone has deliberately damaged your property?

Step 1

The first step to take would be to contact the police as soon as reasonably possible so the incident can be investigated. Take photos of the damage as this will assist your insurers with your claim. You also need to let your insurer know about the incident at this point by reporting the claim. If the damage is significant your insurers will appoint a loss adjuster to help settle your claim and appoint contractors to make repairs.

Step 2

Once your insurer is aware of the incident, it’s important that you forward them all communication and documentation surrounding it as soon as it comes through (including any knowledge of any impending prosecution or enquiry in connection with the event), as well providing them with any further information they request in order to process your claim.

The importance of being proactive

Although we’ve outlined the initial steps to take if you feel that your property has been damaged on purpose, it’s worth reiterating that before ever needing to take these steps, you should make sure you understand your insurance policy and what is covered within it.

If you haven’t already, search your policy document for the term ‘malicious’ to ensure you know what’s covered and what isn’t before you need to rely on it.

For more information on specialist insurance cover for your holiday home please give our experienced team a call on 01237 429444.

*This blog post is only intended as an introduction to malicious damage cover.  Please always refer to your insurance policy to gain a full understanding of your current level of cover.

Smart Meters and Holiday Homes

Smart Meters and Holiday HomesWhat are Smart Meters and are there benefits of installing them in your holiday home? If there was a simple way for you to monitor, even reduce the gas and electricity bills in your  holiday home or cottages would you do it? The answer for most people would be yes, so when the current Government’s Smart Meter Scheme was announced as part of the Conservative’s election manifesto in 2017 it was an exciting initiative for many; the opportunity to not only potentially cut costs on gas and electricity bills but also become more efficient and reduce the impact we have on the environment as a part of the process.

However, two years on and not everything has quite gone to plan. Here’s our update on the roll out of  smart meters and whether or not it might be time for you to make the change in your holiday home…

What was the plan for the rollout of smart meters?

Despite energy firms warning that the technology wasn’t ready, they were initially told that every home should have smart meters installed by the end of 2020.  As we approach the end of 2019 that deadline has now been delayed by a further four years until the end of 2024 (by which time they are targeting installation in 85% of homes).  It is now anticipated that only 50% of homes will have their smart meters installed by the original deadline date amid souring costs and technological setbacks.

Why would you want a smart meter in your holiday home?

The general idea of a smart meter is that the more information you have at your fingertips, the better. The displays help you understand where energy is being spent and make appropriate savings or alterations to your lifestyle. This could be a particularly attractive concept for holiday homeowners, where they aren’t the person using the energy and often live a good distance from the property in question. The key benefits include:

  1. Seeing how much energy your holiday home is spending in near-real-time, via the display or an app.
  2. New automatic and regular meter readings can help to make your holiday home electricity bills more accurate compared to their estimated counterparts.
  3. New versions also enable simpler and easier tariff switching to keep bills lower, with new versions even allowing you to change supplier.

Whilst all of these benefits are geared toward reducing bills, Andrea Leadsom’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has however estimated that customers will not begin to make savings from smart meters until 2022 and they will gain only £36 a year by 2034.

Do you have to have a smart meter at home or in your holiday letting property?

Although customers can turn down the offer of smart meters, firms are faced with fines if they don’t promote them. These fines have brought about some concerns that energy users are being blackmailed into ensuring high levels of uptake. In turn this has led to potential issues such as companies offering more attractive tariffs to those with smart meters in order to ensure households get on board.

Is it time to install smart meters in holiday homes?

In principal, the potential of lowering bills and gaining a better understanding of when and where your energy is being used makes the idea of smart meters for holiday homes a good one. However, there have been a number of technical issues with some meters. Some homeowners have found that their device had stopped working after switching supplier. There have also been reports that display screens have broken within a short period of time.

It’s therefore vital that you do your research before making the move; has the meter your provider is offering had positive reviews from other users? Are the tariffs for smart meter users advantageous compared to your current rates? Are they offering to install the meter for free? If the answer to all of these is yes, then it may well be right time to install one.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. Need an insurance quote for your holiday let? Give us a call on 01237 429444 and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.

registration scheme for short term lets
registration scheme for short term lets

Feeling safe is a basic human need and something we should all be able to experience in our daily lives; we should feel safe when we’re at home, when we’re in the office or when we’re on holiday wanting to relax.

As a holiday homeowner, you’ll no doubt put much of your effort into the latter; ensuring that as soon as your guests arrive at your property, they are kept safe through any number of procedures and processes including fire risk assessments, gas safety certification, public and employers’ liability insurance and electrical checks

AirBnB terms and conditions

If we contrast that with the latest AirBnB terms and conditions they indicate:

“Airbnb has no control over and does not guarantee the existence, quality, safety suitability or legality of any listing”

Where safety for guests was once a given, the rapid growth of peer-to-peer accommodation providers such as AirBnB has far exceeded our own legislative response to its emergence, leaving an ever-growing unregulated market of peer-to-peer accommodation providers welcoming paying guests into their homes with sometimes minimal or no safety processes in place.

The size of that market is ever-growing; every region in the UK now has at least 2,000 listings on the platform and in London, the number is around 64,000. This places the UK as the fifth largest geography for Airbnb globally, when calculated by number of listings.

So how do we even the playing field in order to safeguard our guests and the reputation of the UK as a place to which people can travel and rightly feel safe, no matter where they book?

All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Industry

Last year, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Industry issued a report on the ‘sharing economy’.  It recommended the introduction of a low-cost registration scheme for short term lets and holiday home accommodation providers, which would look to level the playing field of regulation and enforcement of those welcoming paying guests.  The scheme would in turn would create a national database and allow regulators to do their job in ensuring the safety of visitors, no matter on what platform they’d booked.

In April of this year, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan co-signed a letter to the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government that outlined “the law is near-impossible for councils to enforce” and that “the time has come for a light-touch registration system”.  The letter was also signed by AirBnB.

Hadi Moussa, General Manager for Air BnB in the UK and Northern Europe indicated “A clear and simple registration system will help authorities get the information they need to regulate our industry effectively.”

The general consensus for this potential mandatory registration scheme for short term lets to date has been that it must be either low cost or free to register in order to achieve the necessary drive for sign ups.  If it does come to fruition, then any move to ensure that guests are kept safe and the gap in regulation between holiday homeowners and those listing properties through the ‘sharing economy’ is lessened can only be a good thing. You can read more about recent calls for increased regulation for AirBnB here:

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. Need an insurance quote for your holiday let? Give us a call on 01237 429444.

holiday letting terms and conditions
holiday letting terms and conditions

A new campaign led by The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is highlighting the importance of being open and transparent with your guests when it comes to your holiday letting terms and conditions. 

The initiative, named ‘Small Print, Big Difference,’ is encouraging holiday home owners to ‘check in’ on their small print to ensure it’s fair to guests that have cause to unexpectedly cancel their holiday after booking, and is backed by a number of leading players within the industry including ABTA, The Travel Association, UKHospitality and Specialist Travel Association (AITO).

Are your terms and conditions ‘fair’?

The UK spent an estimated £81 billion on travel and holidays in 2018 alone, with the average family spending up to £3,000 to enjoy a range of destinations across the world and closer to home.  The thought of having to cancel a holiday, whether through ill health, bereavement or circumstances outside of your control, and subsequent loss of a deposit or cancellation fee, can therefore be an expensive one.

However, on the part of the holiday homeowner, if you’ve taken a booking and perhaps lost other bookings in order to honour that reservation, you are equally left with the prospect of having to fill that cottage, sometimes with very little or no notice, or be left significantly out of pocket.

It would seem in this scenario there are really no winners; the guest doesn’t get to enjoy your cottage and potentially loses a sum of money, whilst you are left frantically trying to re-book or face losing out on potential rental income.

The answer therefore lays in finding a ‘reasonable’ and ‘fair’ solution for all involved.

What is legally reasonable and fair?

Under consumer law, a business may be entitled to ask customers to pay a cancellation fee in order to cover any potential losses.  With that in mind, how much should, or could you be asking guests for if they need to cancel a booking?

The key is that the figure must be seen as proportionate to what you are losing. 

For example, if you were to ask for the full sum of their holiday and you then had time to re-book for the cancelled period, this would be seen as unreasonable. 

On the other hand, if you incurred costs in advertising and administrative time in order to re-book for the cancelled period, then asking for some of this to be covered would be more fair and reasonable if clearly communicated and stated within your terms and conditions.

How about non-refundable deposits?

If you include a blanket “non-refundable deposit” demand or cancellation fee in your terms and conditions then this could be an unfair contract, not legally binding, and unenforceable if that figure doesn’t correlate to your potential losses – even if the customer has signed it.

What do guests currently expect?

A recent survey conducted by CMA found that:

  • 89% felt they should get all, or most, of their money back if they cancel and the business re-sells their booking.
  • 85% felt that it’s unfair if they have to pay part of the cost of a booking when they cancel
  • 66% felt that travel and holiday businesses do not always make it as easy to cancel a booking as they should
  • of the people with experience of cancelling a booking, 1 in 5 felt that they had been treated unfairly

The key to fair conditions

When it comes to the law, the key is to ensure that any figure you request on cancellation correlates to the potential loss. However, at the heart of good customer service is great communication, so always make sure that your holiday letting terms and conditions are not only fair, but that your guests have seen them, read them, understand them and have easy access to them at every point of their booking with you.

For more information on the ‘Small Print, Big Difference’ campaign please visit: https://fairterms.campaign.gov.uk/

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. Need an insurance quote for your holiday let? Give us a call on 01237 429444.

Airbnb hidden cameras

Airbnb hidden camerasWhen it was founded in 2008, very few people could have envisaged how quickly and large Airbnb would grow. It is now home to 31 offices across the world. Airbnb has welcomed more than 400 million guests since its launch and has listings in a staggering 161 countries.

With growth can often come problems, the most recent is potentially one of the most worrying for would-be guests. That’s because there’s been an increasing number of reports of guests identifying and locating hidden cameras within Airbnb properties. While some of these have been hidden in common household appliances such as fire detectors; others have made their way into plant pots and television veneers.

Although such spy craft would be more commonly found in the pages of a James Bond novel, it does highlight a very real and significant problem for Airbnb and those using the platform to enjoy a break away; namely a very severe invasion of privacy.

So where does Airbnb stand on hidden cameras in their properties? And importantly where can UK holiday homeowners find guidance on the use of CCTV in UK holiday lets?

Airbnb’s stance on recording equipment and hidden cameras in properties

Airbnb indicates that it’s fine for a property owner to have cameras, or recording equipment and devices within the property. Stipulating as long as they’re highlighted to guests within the ‘House Rules’. Here’s their exact wording:

“If you’re a host and you have any type of surveillance device in or around a listing, even if it’s not turned on or hooked up, we require that you indicate its presence in your House Rules. We also require you to disclose if an active recording is taking place. If a host discloses the device after booking, Airbnb will allow the guest to cancel the reservation and receive a refund.”

So what’s the real issue?

The issue, as with many areas of Airbnb, is one of regulation and safeguarding. At the moment cases of hidden cameras and recording equipment are only being highlighted and brought to public attention by paying guests that are thorough enough and technically savvy enough to conduct a scan. They are not being identified by the platform itself. This issue then permeates into policing; if there are hundreds of thousands of transient and sometimes short term listings, how do you regulate and proactively police what’s inside the property without reliance on the paying guest?

The answer is that it’s incredibly difficult and, until that changes, the risks of hidden equipment within these properties may be a tricky problem to solve for one of the largest online property platforms in the world.

Please note it is illegal in the UK to use spy cameras in areas where subjects may have a reasonable expectation of privacy such as holiday homes.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. Need an insurance quote for your holiday let? Give us a call on 01237 429444.

HMRC Let Property Campaign

HMRC Let Property Campaign

Five years ago, we posed the following question. Whether getting the best terms on the tax you pay on your holiday letting income sounded like an attractive proposition? Our question was related to the launch of a new campaign by the Government, aptly called the Let Property Campaign.

The reason for the HMRC Let Property Campaign

In 2013 it was estimated that 1.5 million landlords had underpaid or failed to pay up to £500 million in tax between 2009 and 2010 alone. The campaign was an opportunity for those that had knowingly or inadvertently not paid (or underpaid) tax on their `buy-to-let’ and ‘furnished holiday letting income‘ to come clean and declare it without further hefty penalties.

It’s important to highlight that, whilst many pieces of legislation are aimed at ‘traditional landlords’ with Assured Shorthold Tenancies; this drive from HMRC extends to holiday homeowners and those operating within the tourism and hospitality sector. It essentially targeted anyone who owns more than one home one or more of which generate an income.

The results of the Let Property Campaign

And the results? A recent Freedom of Information request has indicated that over the past five years, 35,099 people have made a voluntary declaration to HMRC – that’s 2.6% of the people that had been identified. Wondering how much of the £500 million tax bill they were successful in recouping? £85 million (17% of the targeted figure).

The importance of being upfront with tax

While these figures are certainly not what HMRC and the Government were targeting at the original outset of the campaign, they are continuing the drive to identify those that are gaining income from properties and not declaring additional sources of revenue.

If you’ve made an error in paying or calculating your tax bill as a result of misunderstanding or deliberately paying the wrong amount, it is strongly advised that you inform HMRC of any mistakes before they discover them, because if you don’t make a voluntary disclosure now and HMRC finds out later, you could suffer higher penalties and face criminal prosecution.

You may also find the following articles of on furnished holiday letting taxation of interest:

When holiday letting your second home to paying guests it’s essential to take advice on suitable insurance. Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to holiday letting owners across the UK. Need an insurance quote for your holiday home or cottage complex? Please give us a call on 01237 429444.

*Please remember this article is only a general outline of the tax schemes offered by HMRC. If you are looking for tax information or advice, please contact HMRC directly or seek professional advise.

Leasehold apartment holiday let

Leasehold apartment holiday letAre you considering purchasing a leasehold apartment to holiday let? Although it’s quick and easy to make a listing on the ever-growing list of rental websites; in reality there are a number of steps you should take before buying an apartment and opening your doors to paying guests. Whether you intend to let for a limited number of weeks to help with costs or to provide a more regular income you should ensure that you can comply with the terms of your lease. Have an appropriate mortgage and suitable insurance for holiday letting.

Does your lease allow you to let your property?

From insurance to your lease and mortgage agreements, we take a look at what you’ll need to be considering and the action you should be taking before letting your property…

The implications for leasehold properties

It’s estimated there are tens of thousands of leasehold properties currently listed on AirBnB and similar holiday rental sites. However, an extremely common clause in any lease is that the property must be for “private residence” possibly prohibiting the subletting of the property for short periods.

So what does that mean? In essence if you were to holiday let the apartment and your lease included this or a similar clause, you’re in breach of your lease. As a result you could face the consequences should your freeholder choose to take issue with it. These could include and extend to your landlord asking you to cease holiday letting and potential legal action.

A recent ruling in the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber), which is the highest property court in the land, has supported this stance. In this particular case one resident in a block of London flats fell out with fellow neighbours by letting her property on AirBnB and a range of other similar sites. When others in the block became disgruntled by her actions they asked the landlord to take action, with the case subsequently going to court.

Take legal advice to ensure the apartment is suitable for holiday letting

With a legal precedent now set, if you own a leasehold apartment and are wanting to holiday let it you should first check your lease. For those considering purchasing a leasehold apartment to holiday let it’s vital you check the terms of your lease before committing to buy. Seek advice from your solicitor and be upfront with them and the estate agent regarding your intentions to holiday let. In many popular holiday areas across the UK apartments are springing up. Some new build apartment blocks are intended for use as second homes and holiday lets. Those that are should have appropriate leasehold wordings to allow holiday letting. However do double check and seek advice.

The implications for second homes purchased with a mortgage

So does the above leasehold scenario extend to a property purchased with a mortgage?

The answer really lays in the agreement that you have with the lender. If you’re intending to let your second home to paying guests it’s important you have the right mortgage. Either:

  • secure a mortgage that allows this type of letting from the outset, or alternatively
  • consult with your existing agreement to ensure that it’s not prohibited.

Seek advice from your mortgage adviser who’ll be able to guide you through your options. They’ll provide advice to ensure you comply with the lenders requirements and source a loan to match your needs. Taking the right advice should be both cost effective and tax efficient.

Getting your holiday letting insurance right

When people visit and stay in your home they bring with them a unique range of insurance requirements. These far outreach the standard household buildings and contents policy cover you’d usually have for your home. For example:

  • what if one of your guests has an accident in your property?
  • What if you’re unable to let your property for any period of time as a result of an incident?
  • Would you be able to pay the legal fees should there be a claim made against you?
  • Does the freeholder’s block policy for the buildings insurance include cover for your fixtures and fittings?

These are all areas that could cause distress and expense were you not to have the correct insurance cover.

When holiday letting your second home to paying guests it’s essential to take advice on suitable insurance. Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to holiday letting owners across the UK. Need an insurance quote for your holiday letting apartment? Please give us a call on 01237 429444.

 

holiday home booking scams

holiday home booking scamsDid you know that there are 14 billion spam emails sent across the world every day? With that sheer volume you’ll not be surprised if one or two pop into your own inbox each day!

Whilst we can all turn a blind eye, perhaps muttering under our breath as we delete them from our rapidly filling inbox, the problem is that some are becoming more and more realistic; the lines between valid enquiries and booking scams are blurring.

This potential problem is further exacerbated for holiday homeowners when you consider that the majority of bookings are now taken online through booking engines. So how do you tell if someone is real or fake so you don’t fall foul of booking scams? A number of incidences have been recently reported where:

  1. holiday homeowners have taken a booking, the person has stayed at the property and;
  2. the payment has subsequently been denied after their departure
  3. the card used had been stolen or impersonated.

So what would you do in these circumstances? You’ve not only lost out on the payment for the stay but also lost out on letting it to someone else. A double loss.

The answer of course is as always to stay vigilant when taking bookings and investigate further if you have doubts over the validity of a potential booking. Here are just a few tips to hopefully help to ensure that fake bookings don’t make it past your proactive safeguards.

Look for some of the more obvious signs of faking

As we’ve already said, email correspondences and online bookings can be very sincere and on the face of it look completely legitimate. However, there are a few red flags that may arouse suspicion:

  1. Not providing a telephone number or other key pieces of verification information – this can be easily solved by making this a compulsory field of any bookings. You could also ask for their home address as a part of this process.
  2. Monitor very late and last minute bookings. If someone has obtained someone’s credit or debit card information, then it’s unlikely they’ll be planning their trip months in advance for fear of being caught. The majority of holiday home scams are concentrated around last minute bookings for short breaks.
  3. Some booking scams have involved individuals ‘arranging a surprise trip’ for someone else. Whilst this in isolation isn’t completely uncommon, if combined with the other potential red flags we’ve already mentioned it may arouse suspicion of scamming.

Trust your own instinct to prevent falling foul of booking scams

If you manage your own holiday home bookings, then you’ll have undoubtedly taken hundreds if not thousands over the years. Trust your instinct; if something around a booking doesn’t feel or smell right then investigate it. Give them a call. Look into things a little further and ask for additional information that would dispel any doubt.

If you’re still in doubt…

Where you have concern over a booking, consider asking for ID and to view the card on which they paid on arrival. If someone has stolen the personal information of another individual, then they’ll not have this to hand.

Use a good holiday letting agent…

Using a good holiday letting agency can also help you stamp out fraudulent or scam bookings. Working with cottage owners in the local area or even nationally, an agency will have an unrivalled knowledge and understanding. Not only will they get you new bookings, but also keep you as safe as possible from would-be scammers.

If you have been a victim of fraud it’s important to report it to the relevant authorities. You can report a fraud to Action Fraud using their online fraud reporting tool or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Boshers are specialist providers of holiday home insurance. For information on how we can help protect your holiday let business ,call us on 01237 429444

Rent a room tax relief

Rent a room tax reliefAlthough it may seem like a more recent phenomenon, Airbnb was founded a whole decade ago. It has had a massive impact on the holiday home and rental industries in almost 200 countries across the globe.

The platform now has a staggering four million listings across 65,000 cities and is valued at more than $31 billion. What it has done, not unlike Uber, is disrupted an industry norm; where those needing a car would once have traditionally hailed a cab now order an Uber. In turn, those looking for a break will often turn to AirBnB.

The speed with which the business has grown has meant that legislation and policy makers have been constantly trying, often in vein, to keep a pace with changes in order to keep a level playing field for those following the traditional holiday cottage business-model and the regulations and rates they have to pay in turn.

Rent a room tax relief under review

However, the current rent a room tax relief scheme is now under review; so what changes might we see? What will be the impact on those that currently move out of their home for short periods of time in order to list their properties on sites such as Airbnb?

Letting out a room if you’re present in the home

The original purpose of rent a room tax relief was for those living in properties to earn extra income in order to pay for the property itself, and for the person renting the room to have an affordable rent as a result of the tax relief.

For this reason, if you’re wanting to rent a room out whilst you still spend ‘some or part of the time in the property yourself’ then you’ll continue to be eligible for relief on the first £7,500 of income from that letting.

What if you’re wanting to let out the whole property?

Many of the listings on Airbnb allow budding guests the chance to rent whole properties, rather than just rooms. This is where the real proposed changes will affect the listing owners.  Going forward, it is suggested that if a landlord is letting out a whole property, even if it is usually their main residence, they will no longer be able to claim rent a room tax relief.

However, they will continue to be eligible for the new Trading and Property Allowances, which allows up to £1,000 of property income to be earned tax-free. On any income above £1,000, landlords can choose to either deduct the amount of the allowance, or deduct the revenue expenses incurred in letting out the property, such as the cost of replacing carpets or the cost of meeting gas or electricity bills.

So what does that potentially mean in a snapshot?

If you rent only a room within your main residence, there is no great change. You should continue to be eligible for rent a room tax relief. However, if you rent out the whole property you’ll now be subject to the lower Trading and Property Allowance. This is designed to be used against any form of property income.

For more detailed information on these proposals please view the PDF document via this link:

Please note that this article gives only an overview of the proposed changes to Rent a Room Tax Relief. It is not intended as Tax Advice. We suggest you take advice from an accountant before making any decisions in this area. Alternatively contact HMRC for further guidance.

Boshers are specialist providers of holiday home insurance. For information on specialist insurance can help protect your holiday home business, please give us a call on 01237 429444.