This category is for articles relevant to owners of holiday homes, cottages and holiday cottage complexes in England, Wales or Scotland. It contains articles full of tips and guides on many aspects of running a holiday letting property. Check out these posts, Business rates for holiday cottage complexes, Holiday home industry code of practice, Essential guide for cottage owners.

Key Safes - holiday home secure

Key Safes - holiday home secureAre you guilty of hiding the key to your holiday home under the mat or plant pot? There is another way of keeping your holiday home secure!

Whether your visitors are just ten minutes or a few days away from arrival, placing your holiday home keys in an insecure place like this can be risky and potentially make your cottage a target for opportunist thieves.

According to a study by LV (Liverpool Victoria), 19% of people admitted to leaving the keys to their property under a plant pot. And if that’s not daunting enough, police figures show that more than 6,000 homes burglaries in a single year were as a result of thieves using keys!

But is there a viable alternative when guests are coming and going on a regular basis? The good news is yes, there is, and it comes in the form of a key safe.

Before you go ahead and install one, here are some key things to consider….

A mechanical key safe approved by the police

One of the UK’s leading producers of key safes, the Key Safe Company, has created the first-ever mechanical key safe to achieve UK police approval.

The Supra C500 has been subject to vigorous testing and as a result, is the only type of key safe to receive the LPS 1175 Level 1 certificate, making it an accepted form of security by many insurance companies.

Please visit keysafe.co.uk/ to find out more about the Supra C500.

Where should it be installed?

Key safes should be located on an exterior wall, concealed where possible, but not hidden to the point your visitors can’t find it when they arrive (be sure to include instructions and information as to the whereabouts of the safe within your pre-holiday communications).

Use a specialist locksmith or professional installer to install your key safe to ensure it’s secure and effective.

If you’re installing your own, be aware that it must be fixed into brick or dense concrete rather than breezeblock or soft mortar.

Regularly update your key safe codes

There’s little point in having a key safe if you never change the code. It’s good practice that periodically you, your housekeeper or cleaner is tasked with doing this, potentially between changeovers.

Remember you’ll always need to let your next guest know the code before they arrive!

Protect yourself

If your holiday home is due to be unoccupied for a lengthy period of time it makes sense to arrange for the keys to be removed from the safe. Leaving them for prolonged periods could be a security risk in itself.

Am I covered?

An important question to check is ‘am I protected by my insurers?’

Although many insurance companies are now accepting the use of key safes within their policies, some may have certain fitting conditions, combination code requirements, etc.

Always check to make sure you’re covered before investing in and installing a key safe.

Talk to an expert

For more information about key safes we highly recommend you talk to a specialist locksmith or reputable company such as Key Safe.

It’s not practical to expect your holiday home guests to keep your holiday home secure in the same manner that you would, they may not lock every window whilst they go out for the day so look for a holiday home insurance policy such as that offered by Boshers that does not require evidence of forceful of violent entry in the event of a theft claim. At Boshers we understand that key safes are in common use at holiday homes, whist we expect you to take care in the manner which you use an operate a key safe at your holiday home our policy does not have any specific conditions specifying how they’re used.

If you have any questions or queries regarding the insurance cover you have in place or if you require a quotation from a specialist for your holiday home insurance please give one of our experienced team a call on 01237 429444.

This holiday home security article has been created as generic guidance for holiday home, cottage and holiday cottage complex owners and does not constitute security or insurance advice. If you have any questions relating to holiday home security and the prevention of thefts at your holiday cottage you should take advice. 

Holiday Home Security

Holiday Home SecurityHoliday homeowners often face a unique set of circumstances when it comes to holiday home security; you could live a good distance from your property, it may be unoccupied for periods during the year and you’ll ultimately have no control over how security conscious and diligent your guests remain when they’re in relaxation mode on their holiday.

Whilst latest Government figures show the rate of UK robberies is at an all time low, now is a great time of the year to be taking a look at what security you have in place, and how you communicate this vigilance with your guests.

In this essential guide to holiday home security we give you a few simple steps you can put in place in order to make sure that your cottage is as secure as possible…

Windows and Doors

The majority of thieves are opportunists and holiday homes can provide them with an abundance of potential opportunities. Your guests will stay in their droves during the summer months when temperatures are higher, leading to the temptation of leaving windows wide open when away from the property. Combine this with the fact they’ll spend the majority of the time away from your cottage and you’ve got an unoccupied home with little defence.

3 out of 10 burglaries are committed without using force; whilst the majority of visitors will treat your cottage like their own, consider adding a friendly request to secure all windows and doors before leaving the property, and also consider any communication that you could display near windows, particularly if they’re located on the ground floor.

Locks

Adding locks to windows throughout your holiday home can be another line of defence. An insurer may want to know what security systems you have in place to see if they meet conditions for external and internal doors. A five-lever mortice deadlock conforming to the British Standard 3621 is highly recommend, if not one of a higher spec.

For extra peace of mind windows could also be fitted with key operated locks with handles that are multi locking and conform to British Standards.

Key Safes

Changeover or periods during which your holiday home is unoccupied could be potential targets for burglars. If you don’t already have one, consider the use of a key safe to secure your holiday home keys for the convenience of your visitors.

For more information on the first ever police approved key safe please take a read of our blog post here:

Keeping an eye out

We’ve said that these periods can be a target, so how often do you visit the property to ensure everything is in order? If you live a good distance from your holiday home consider having a neighbour, or cleaner make regular checks on your property, especially during vacant periods. This can be useful not only from a security perspective, but also highlight any maintenance issues during the busy season.

Holiday letting agents will also be able to keep you well informed on these aspects and may even offer an inspection service or point you in the direction of someone who does..

Burglar Alarms

According to Yale, 60% of burglaries are on homes that have inactive alarm systems.

So does your holiday home have an active alarm, particularly when you don’t have any guests? We advise talking to alarm specialists about what type of alarm you should use and highly recommend asking a registered company to install it.

Visit the National Security Inspectorate website at www.nsi.org.uk to find a registered specialist near you.

Property contents

It’s vital that you have contents insurance in place, but do you know exactly what contents are in your holiday home? If you only visit the property infrequently it may be some time before you realise that items have been removed from your cottage.

Make a list of items inside your holiday home and also consider taking photographs of where they are located (this can be useful for future reference should there be any issues).

Property marking is an additional way of protecting items of particular value and will make it harder for thieves to sell on. Methods include UV pens, etching and forensic marking. Talk to your local police and council to find out if they run any workshops in the area.

Holiday home insurance

Do pay attention to any security conditions in your holiday home insurance policy and ensure that you have the correct holiday home security in place. Whilst it is good practice to have all the above security measures in place, our underwriters will not generally require minimum security measures to be in place unless your contents sums insured are substantial. It’s not practical to expect your holiday home guests to lock every window whilst they go out for the day so look for a holiday home insurance policy that does not require evidence of forceful of violent entry in the event of a theft claim.

If you have any questions or queries regarding the insurance cover you have in place or if you require a quotation from a specialist for your holiday home insurance please give one of our experienced team a call on 01237 429444.

This holiday home security article has been created as generic guidance for holiday home, cottage and holiday cottage complex owners and does not constitute security or insurance advice. If you have any questions relating to holiday home security and the prevention of thefts at your holiday cottage you should take advice. 

wood burner, holiday cottage

wood burner, holiday cottage

With winter now upon us, you might be considering installing a wood burner in your holiday cottage to make it more appealing to visitors during those colder months.

Wood burners can be a great way to heat your property; not only could you potentially reduce energy bills, but a roaring fireplace can also become a selling point for your cottage when visitors are looking to book a winter getaway.

We’ve taken a look at what you need to know when it comes to installing a wood burner or replacing your existing system.

Getting the right wood burner or solid fuel heating system

From multi-fuel open fires to biomass systems and inset stoves there are plenty of options available, no matter the size or shape of your cottage. When it comes to making the investment, do some research into which one will suit your property, and with a view to reducing potential costs, also work with any system that you already have in place.

Biomass boilers have become increasingly popular in recent times, due in part to the subsidies you’ll be able to gain on fuel bills as part of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).  If you are exploring this option you’ll need to bear in mind the high initial cost of purchasing the boiler itself, and always remember to get three quotes, along with references from at least two previous customers. For more information on biomass heating, please read our blog article here:

Who should install your wood burner?

When it comes to installing a wood burner, certain regulations must be followed in line with the Government’s Building Regulations Document J. It’s recommended you use a registered wood burner installer who will know their job inside out, rather than making any attempt at installation yourself.

Many companies will be registered with HETAS installer scheme and listed on the Government recognised Competent Person Schemes; you can find one near you by searching via the HETAS and Competent Persons Register:

Certification

If a registered installer such as those listed above has installed your wood burner, you’ll be given a Certificate of Compliance.  This certificate is issued within 30 days of completion of the work to prove all Building Control obligations under Document J have been met.

Ensure you keep this in your records as evidence the work has been carried out by a competent professional.

Chimney fires; your maintenance responsibilities

If your holiday home has a wood burner it’s vital you regularly maintain it.  There are in the region of 6,000 chimney fires in England each year; take steps such as regular sweeping to avoid the catastrophic consequences a fire can have on your holiday home.

For full information on complying with the fire safety act and chimney fire prevention please read our blog here:

Carbon monoxide alarms

When your new wood burner is in place you’ll also need to make sure you install a carbon monoxide alarm. On 11 March 2015 the housing minister Brandon Lewis announced that residential landlords in England would be required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties. Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas which kills as many as 50 people in the UK each year; it’s produced when fuels such as gas, oil, charcoal, coal and wood do not burn completely.

A carbon monoxide alarm should be placed in the room as the wood burner / open fire and positioned on a wall or ceiling in a position as indicated in the instructions which accompany the unit. Your stove installer will advise you on where else in your holiday home you should place additional detectors.

For more information on the dangers of Carbon Monoxide and your responsibilities as a holiday let owner, please read our blog post here:

Additional guest safety tips

For your safety and that of your guests here are some additional best practice tips for those installing a solid fuel or wood burner in your holiday cottage. Provide the following:

  • Instructions for safe operation, cleaning and disposal of cinders in your Welcome Information Pack
  • Fire guard for containing sparks from open fires and preventing children and vulnerable adults from falling against or touching a hot stove or wood burner
  • Metal bin, clearly marked for disposal of cool ash and cinders only

The holiday home insurance angle — helping you get back on your feet

Our holiday homeowners are covered for damage to their property as a result of fire. We also understand the potentially devastating financial impact having your holiday home unavailable for let as the result of a fire can have on your business. Our loss of income covers you for the potential loss of income you may suffer as a result of disruption or interruption caused by an insured event such as fire.

This means that should you lose trade then you’ll not have to pay the price of the loss of trade you suffer through cancellations and periods of not being able to accept bookings.

We also understand that repairs and maintenance after such an event won’t be immediate; that’s why our indemnity period extends to two years.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support your holiday home business, please give us a call on 01237 429444.

Please note that this article gives only an overview of installing a wood burner in your holiday cottage and we suggest you take advice from a qualified professional before making any decisions in this area. 

Holiday Home booking Contract

Holiday Home booking ContractMost holiday homeowners who look after their own bookings will have taken hundreds of reservations from happy guests over the years, but some may not be aware of the legal contract they are forming each and every time they accept a booking, and the legalities they should have in place.

Your Holiday Home Booking Contract

Once you have accepted a booking from a guest, you will normally have to honour that booking. This is because a legally enforceable contract between you and your guest has been formed, with the dates, accommodation and price becoming the terms of your agreement.

This contractual agreement isn’t limited to email or written correspondence; it can also apply to telephone conversations you had with a booking guest.

What should you have in place?

As you are entering a contract with your guest it is recommended that you have certain terms and conditions that lay out what would happen in the event of a cancellation, no-show or a curtailment. You will also want to confirm the guests responsibility with respect to property damage and list costs incurred should a deep clean be required if for example they bring a pet to the holiday home.

In order for these conditions to be enforceable you must make them clear to the guest when they book. For this reason it’s vital that you think of ways in which you can introduce your booking terms and conditions into your booking process, to ensure they aren’t missed.

What can’t you do?

Whilst your terms and conditions will be there to support you in the event a guest doesn’t arrive for their booking, or a cancellation were to be made at the last minute, they are not able to be used to excuse you from your legal responsibilities.

For example, if you had a term that indicated you were not responsible for any physical harm incurred by the guest during their stay in your property this would not negate you of the responsibility to provide your guest with a safe environment.

Best practice

You should try to keep a clear and accurate record of the arrangements you have made for each booking. This should also include any special arrangements you have made with the guest, for example preparations for an anniversary, or special accessibility requirements and allergies.

Remember, phone bookings also create a booking contract with your guest so ensure you have a list of the things you need to go through with them while they are making their booking, including your cancelation policy, how you handle deposits and your pricing.

Visit England recommend that you follow up any booking made over the phone, where practical, with an email or letter to confirm all of your terms and conditions with the guest.

The benefits of a booking agent

If you have a letting agent managing your holiday home property you’ll not only benefit from the larger shop window and exposure their marketing efforts can give you, you’ll also have the advantage of using their terms and conditions. Most agents will handle this process for you and have the terms and conditions to safeguard your interests and ensure you don’t lose out.

Gaining terms and conditions

Booking terms and conditions are a complicated area of law. For this reason, if you are looking to create terms and conditions we recommend that you consult with your solicitor.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to holiday letting owners across the UK. For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support your holiday home business, please give us a call on 01237 429444.

Furnished Holiday Letting Tax RulesWhen you rent a property it is usually treated as a form of investment activity rather than a trade. For example, if you had a job and owned a second home which you let on a shorthold tenancy agreement, the property would for tax purposes often be seen as you owning it as an investment, rather than an occupation which would provide you with profit.

For a holiday homeowner this scenario can be problematic; particularly if you own your holiday home with a view to creating a profit and a living from it, making it a trade rather than a pure investment.

This is where Furnished Holiday Lettings Rules (FHL) come in, providing potentially advantageous treatment of ‘self-catering’ accommodation. We take a closer look at how to qualify under the Furnished Holiday Letting tax rules.

What are the ‘Furnished Holiday Letting’ Tax Rules?

In order for your holiday home to qualify and benefit from this advantageous taxation treatment it must first meet all of the following criteria:

  • Your holiday home must be located within the European Economic Area (EEA).
  • Your holiday home must be let on a commercial basis with a view to making a profit from the lettings.
  • Your holiday home must be furnished.

The occupation requirements

There are also several occupation requirements your holiday home will need to meet:

  • Your holiday home must be available for at least 210 days (30 weeks) in a 12 month period.
  • Your holiday home must be let to the public as holiday accommodation for at least 105 days (15 weeks) in a 12 month period. If your holiday home is new and unable to hit this occupation level it will be taken into consideration.
  • If your holiday home is occupied by the same guests for more than 31 consecutive days, that ‘longer term’ form of occupation cannot add up to more than 155 days in a 12 month period.
  • If you own more than one holiday home, an average would be taken across all of the qualifying properties meaning that if a single property fell beneath the required occupancy threshold it could potentially be buoyed up by other holiday homes that you own.

What if you have a bad year and don’t meet the requirements?

In order to continue to qualify as Furnished Holiday Accommodation your holiday home will not need to meet the occupation requirements every year.

You will be allowed to miss the thresholds for two consecutive years, with your holiday home ceasing to be qualify on the third year.

This means that as a bear minimum, your holiday home will need to meet the entire occupation requirement at least once every three years.

The benefits of qualifying as Furnished Holiday Letting Accommodation

There is a wide range of benefits associated with Furnished Holiday Letting Accommodation, which you should discuss with your accountant or another qualified professional.

These benefits include:

  • Profits from furnished holiday lets are deemed “relevant earnings”, allowing for tax advantaged pension savings to be made that ordinary letting businesses do not qualify for.
  • Capital allowances can be made on the capital expenditure you make on your holiday home. The first £250,000 of capital expenditure incurred by a person can qualify for 100% Capital Allowances.
  • If you wish to sell your holiday home a range of Capital Gains Tax reliefs, usually only available to trading ventures, can be claimed. These could include Entrepreneurs’ Relief, Roll-over Relief and Hold-over relief.
  • Many holiday home businesses will be run by a husband and wife team. In this case profits can be allocated in any proportion required, irrespective of their actual shares in the ownership of the property.

Here are some helpful links on the Furnished Holiday Letting Tax Rules:

Please note that this article gives only an overview of How to qualify under the Furnished Holiday Letting tax rules and we suggest you take advice from a qualified professional before making any decisions in this area. 

As holiday home insurance specialists we understand the needs of holiday letting owners and our policy includes valuable legal expenses cover for HMRC taxation investigations provided that the insured has taken reasonable care to submit complete tax returns within statutory time limits. For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support your holiday home business, please give us a call on 01237 429444. 

holiday home star rating

holiday home star ratingQuality accommodation is a critical element of any stay in a holiday home.

In a commitment to championing quality, all of Britain’s major tourism organisations (including VisitEngland, VisitScotland and the Wales Tourist Board) work together to agree, support and develop common standards for assessing the quality of self-catering accommodation.

So what are they really looking for when they’re searching for quality?

We’ve taken a look at VisitEngland’s most recent helpful tips and highlighted some of the things you may not have thought of.

Remember that first impressions count

Quality assessors will be looking for signs of quality from the moment they approach your holiday home. Will they be welcomed by well-kept gardens? A parking space free from weeds? Hanging baskets at the front or fresh flowers when they enter the property?

Quality will need to extend to all areas of their stay with you and this begins when they arrive. Ensure the exterior of your holiday home is well kept and that if you live away from your property you have measures in place to ensure these standards are maintained.

Do you provide all the mod cons?

Guests may have a variety of reasons for staying in your holiday home. Some will want to get away from it all, others may want entertainment for their children and access to the internet should the inclement British weather rear its head during a long stay.

Providing WiFi is a key and repeated theme within the VisitEngland helpful hints, along with providing DVD players, stereos, televisions and a range modern appliances in your kitchen.

Those that don’t want to use the technology in your cottage won’t turn it on but it is recommended that your holiday home keep apace with technology.

Quality doesn’t stop you being you

The style and character of your holiday home are what makes it unique. The quality scheme isn’t geared toward making all accommodation the same; it aims to embrace and enhance the diversity of holiday homes across the UK.

If you are being accessed don’t worry about your property having a personality; the tastes and interests of your assessor won’t have an impact on your rating.

Don’t forget the outside areas of your holiday letting property

VisitEngland indicate that the outside of your property is just as important as the inside. If your holiday home includes a garden or outdoor area for your guests to enjoy it’s recommended that this is furnished to the same level of quality as the inside of your holiday home.

Be sure that you have sufficient seating for the number of people your holiday home caters for and that if guests are looking for luxury and quality they’ll not want to be seated on plastic patio furniture.

Following a long summer, barbeques also get an honorable mention, with attention needing to be paid to making them as simple as possible for guests to use and cleaning between changeovers.

Holiday Home Housekeeping

When it’s described as ‘possibly the single most important part of the holiday letting process’ you’ll know that it’s vital you get this right.

There are more complaints made about cleanliness than any other area of holiday home accommodation. Whilst your property should be clean and tidy in anticipation of your guest’s arrival, when looking to achieve a high quality score cleaning isn’t just about cleaning; it’s also a case of presentation.

Is your bed linen crisp and well presented? Are your kitchen cupboards organised?

Be specific when instructing cleaners and housekeepers in order to ensure that the extra touches are carried out to your requirements.

Want to find out more helpful tips on how to increase the star rating of your holiday home?

Useful Links:

Related posts similar to `How to increase the star rating of your holiday home’ which you may find of interest:

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support your holiday home business, please give us a call on 01237 429444.

Information for Holiday Home Owners Supplying BBQ’s to Guests

Lobster and Salmon Veggie Skewers.June 2014 was one of the warmest and driest in the past decade, worthy of a blog on BBQ Safety for Holiday Home Owners. Whilst in recent times the words ‘barbecue summer’ have become somewhat synonymous with an unfortunate Met Office prediction of a return to the summer sunshine of yester years only to be followed by one of the wettest summers on record.

As we all begin to flock to the end of the garden, desperately trying to take up a position in which we aren’t bellowed by wind driven charcoal smoke, what about your guests?

If you provide a BBQ for those visiting your holiday home its important to ensure it’s use is included within your risk assessment and also well communicated to guests.

Here are a few things for you to consider on BBQ safety for holiday home owners and to communicate to those enjoying your holiday let property:

General BBQ Safety for Holiday Home Owners – When was the last time you checked your Holiday Home BBQ?

  • It’s vital to make sure that your holiday home BBQ is checked on a regular basis, and that these checks are carried out more frequently during periods of heightened use.
  • Many holiday home owners will have play equipment such as trampolines in their garden.  It’s important that there is adequate space between these areas and where your BBQ is situated.
  • If your BBQ is usually stored inside, clearly indicate to visitors that it should have cooled completely and cleaned before being stored. Fires can often be started from the embers of a BBQ that has not been sufficiently cooled or extinguished and if they are allowed to continue to burn in a confined space poisonous carbon monoxide can build up and potential kill you or your guests.
  • Hot charcoal should never be thrown out immediately after a BBQ as the heat can melt plastic and cause fires.

The frustrations of getting the BBQ going – getting charcoal cooking

  • BBQ’s take time and preparation. In a world in which our fan oven can quickly reach 200 Celcius within minutes, it can at times seem frustrating waiting for your charcoal to reach cooking temperatures.

This can lead to the temptation of adding more charcoal to the fire or using accelerants in order to quicken the pace of the process. Guests should only use enough charcoal to cover the base of the BBQ and should never use accelerants such as petrol in order to fuel the fire.

  • If your BBQ set included things such as lighters these should only be used on cold coals and also kept well out of the reach of children in your holiday home.

Keeping your holiday home guests safe with gas

  • If you supply a gas BBQ for use by your guests this will pose different risks and safety procedures. You should first ensure that your gas cylinders and BBQ are kept in an appropriate place. This should be an area that is not tightly confined and be clearly designated as out of bounds for young guests.
  • Whilst we all hope for a long BBQ summer you should avoid keeping more gas than is necessary at your holiday home.
  • Guests should be encouraged to change cylinders outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. They should also ensure the tap is fully turned off before making any change.
  • If a gas leak is suspected try brushing soapy water around the joint or pipe.  If there is an issue bubbles will be visible. Tighten to fix any potential joint but avoid over tightening.
  • Guests should be encouraged to report any defaults or defects to your gas BBQ. It should also be checked by someone with the competent skills and experience on a regular basis. Have your gas BBQ serviced annually and safety checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer with the appropriate LPG endorsement.

For further information or if you require a quotation from a specialist for your holiday home insurance call our team on 01237 429444.

 

 

mcz-pellet-biomass-boilerBiomass – the benefits and pitfalls for heating your holiday home

With the summer season approaching it can seem somewhat premature to be thinking about heating your holiday home.  However, those whom have already been proactive in exploring and sourcing alternative heating technologies will be reaping the benefits not only this winter but for many to come.

Keeping a cottage warm is an expensive business; crude oil is a depleting resource and one that has increased in price by more than 80% in the past five years.  These costs have been passed on to consumers and when combined with continually rising electricity prices are seeing the costs of running a holiday home perennially increasing.

Whilst for many cottages occupancy was once traditionally confined to the warmer summer months, more and more now have a heightened focus on filling ‘shoulder months’, transcending from seasonal to year-round enterprises.

This places an increased emphasis on reducing energy bills and the attraction of alternative, more sustainable technologies in order to maintain profitability.

We explore the potential of biomass energy for holiday homeowners.

What is biomass?

Biomass is a renewable energy that uses biological material from living, or recently living organisms in order to generate energy or to produce heat.

In the context of holiday homes this will most commonly be in the form of wood chips, pellets or other wood waste, with a boiler being placed inside a cottage, or in an external building from where larger boilers are able to heat multiple holiday homes.

What are the benefits of biomass energy for holiday homeowners?

Clean and carbon neutral

Biomass is a clean energy and virtually carbon neutral.  It is estimated that by replacing a coal or electric heating system with biomass the average household can reduce their carbon dioxide output by around 9.5 tonnes per annum.

Being green and sustainable is an area increasing numbers of visitors are not only interested in but passionate about; the World Tourism Organisation recently found that one in three people now consider the environmental credentials of their potential destination, with 40% willing to pay a premium to stay in such accommodation.

Less susceptible to price increases

As we’ve already said, oil is a depleting world resource and trends indicate its price is going to continue to rise over time.  As biomass fuel is largely taken from waste wood it doesn’t share the same price volatility as oil or electricity; it’s estimated that the forestry industry across the world is wasting enough biomass each year to heat 1,500,000 homes.

Cost saving and the Renewable Heat Incentive

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is the world’s first long-term financial support programme for renewable heat and pays participants that generate and use renewable energy to heat their buildings.

The tariffs have been set at a level that reflects the expected cost of renewable heat generation over 20 years, meaning that whilst price fluctuations and rises are less likely than with oil and electricity, you’ll be protected from any potential increases.

In addition to the RHI it’s also worth noting that those adopting biomass have seen drops in heating costs in direct comparison to previous electricity or solid fuel bills.

The potential issues with biomass

Whilst biomass is a cleaner and greener alternative to other more carbon intensive heat sources, there are some disadvantages to its adoption for holiday homeowners.

Large implementation costs

Whilst potential cost savings can be made the initial outlay for the biomass boiler itself can be significant.  It’s estimated that the payback period is somewhere in the region of five to seven years.  This can be cost prohibitive for some to implement, although the longer term benefits will outweigh this issue if cash flow is available to implement the technology.

Higher levels of maintenance

It’s also worth noting that biomass boilers will need more space and care than traditional systems. The fuel will need to be stored either in a hopper or in bags, meaning that regular checking or refilling will need to be carried out by yourself or by your guests.

In order for the biomass boiler to perform at it’s upmost efficiency it will also need to be regularly cleaned; if this isn’t carried out the potential payback period for your boiler may lengthen.

If your holiday home is likely to be unoccupied for periods during the winter months you would be well to consider combining biomass with other sources of green and sustainable heating such as air source heat pumps which can be left running on thermostats with minimal maintenance. Keeping your holiday home warm whilst unoccupied has the obvious advantage of preventing burst pipes and the added advantage of reducing the likelihood of mold growth. It’s also important that you comply with the heating conditions specified in your holiday home insurance policy document and of course keep your property cosy for the next guests or indeed your own visit.

If you’re looking to implement biomass in your holiday home ensure that you consult a specialist in this area and give full thought to not only potential cost savings but also to implementation and maintenance.

For further information or if you require a quotation from a specialist for your holiday home insurance call our team on 01237 429444.

Take the leadA guide to welcoming guests with assistance dogs to your self-catering holiday home

Are you aware that there are over 6500 registered assistance dog users in the UK who rely on their trusted companion to carry out practical tasks and support their independence? As a self-catering holiday home owner it’s important that you keep yourself informed of the legislation which impacts on your letting business. To help you understand the rights of guests with assistance dogs, The Equality and Human Rights Commission and VisitEngland have produced an informative publication entitled: Take the lead – A guide to welcoming guests with assistance dogs to your self-catering holiday home.

This useful guide aimed at all tourism businesses including accommodation providers covers topics such as:

  • What is an assistance dog?
  • Why you should welcome owners with assistance dogs at your furnished holiday letting property
  • Your legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010 to allow disabled people with assistance dogs to stay at your holiday home

Dog friendly holiday cottages

Whilst many holiday home owners already market their letting properties and cottages as dog friendly whilst a few also choose for many reasons not to accept pets, clearly every owner must take reasonable steps to accept guests with assistance dogs. Assistance dogs are highly trained and very unlikely to cause any damage to your holiday home, in any event quality holiday home insurance with accidental damage will give you peace of mind that most situations are covered.

A pdf copy of the guide is available to download here: Take the lead – A guide to welcoming customers with assistance dogs

Boshers are specialist providers of insurance to holiday homes and cottages.  For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support your holiday home please give us a call on 01237 429444.

making your holiday cottage bike friendly

making your holiday cottage bike friendlyCatering for the growing British cycling market

As the pinnacle of worldwide competitive cycling it may seem strange to refer to Tour de France winners as busses, but when Bradley Wiggins was crowned the king of the tour in 2012 very few of us, having waiting more than 100 years for a British winner, expected to see Chris Froome storming down the Champs-Élysées adorned in the yellow jersey just twelve months later.

Add to those names the likes of Chris Hoy, Rebecca Pendleton and many more from the record breaking GB cycling team of recent years and you begin to build a picture of a nation enjoying one of the most successful times in its cycling history.

So often elite level success trickles down to greater recreational participation; cycle paths have begun to pop up and be developed in greater numbers and many enjoying a stay in a holiday cottage this summer will now be looking forward to getting the family out for a day on the bikes. There are many ways of making your holiday cottage bike friendly and many owners will be looking for ways to appeal to this market.

So what can you do to cater to this growing market?

Provide guests with the information they need

It’s a good idea to provide your guests with information such as where the local cycle paths are, how long the cycle will be, potential stop off points and also the level of difficulty.

Whilst some may be after an adrenaline fuelled speed cycle through the local woods others will be seeking a more sedate experience whilst taking in the views so make sure your guests know what they’re getting themselves in for.

This information doesn’t need to be restricted to arrival or as a pack in your holiday home either.  Consider promoting the local cycle paths on your website along with images from those unrivaled views.  If you’re aiming to attract this sort of market it’s important to make sure they know everything you have to offer.

Washing and drying facilities

The British weather can be notoriously inclement no matter what the month, which when cycling is involved often leads to muddy and rain sodden clothing.

Providing designated areas where dirty clothes and trainers can be aired and washed will be an added bonus for visitors and will also limit the mud and dirt to certain parts of your holiday cottage.

Storage

Bicycles take up space so you need somewhere to store them.  There is now a wide array of space saving storage devices on the market specifically designed for cyclists and they don’t have to cost the earth; some begin from just £29.99 from well known hardware stores.

Any potential space saving within the cottage itself can also save expense on having to erect external bike sheds and installing further security devices.

Providing bikes for your holiday cottage guests

If you’re providing bikes for your guests then you’ll need to confirm with your holiday cottage insurance provider if they are happy to extend your liability insurance for this activity and comply with policy conditions and good health and safety practice. At the very least you’ll have to ensure they’re regularly inspected and maintained by a competent person.  If they’re defected in any way they should be made unavailable to guests until they have been repaired and are in full working order.

Make sure you provide helmets

Wearing a helmet is a vital part of cycling health and safety so if you’re providing bicycles to your guests it’s essential that you make these available.

Like your bike a helmet should also be inspected on a regular basis, with a log kept of when you last made an inspection, along with any replacements or repairs carried out.

Consider adding signage where your bikes are stored to remind them that the helmets are there for them and recommend they should be used at all times.

Boshers are specialist providers of insurance to holiday homes and cottages. For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support your holiday home please give us a call on 01237 429444.