Posts

Holiday Let fire Safety | Risks of halogen bulbs

Holiday Let fire Safety | Risks of halogen bulbsThe death of any child is always extremely tragic, and the case of a six-year-old who lost his life in a house fire last year has again highlighted the fatal consequences fire can have once it takes hold of a property. Riley Jake Jackson from Derbyshire died from “fire-related burns and carbon monoxide toxicity” after a bedside lamp had fallen over and the heat from the bulb caused the lampshade to ignite.

The bulb within the lamp was halogen and the recent inquest into Riley’s death has heightened attention on the potential danger of halogen light bulbs within homes. When considering holiday let fire safety, take into account the risks posed by halogen bulbs.

The difference between halogen and LEDs

The fundamental safety difference between halogen bulbs and LEDs is the potential temperatures the halogen bulbs can reach when on for a period of time. A halogen bulb can soar to temperatures of 200°c, whilst LEDs are usually less than half of this. The former can therefore quickly become a fire risk if it comes into contact with materials such as duvets, lampshades and curtains.

Weren’t halogen bulbs banned?

Halogen bulbs were banned from sale across the European Union in September 2018 on environmental, rather than safety, grounds. However, retailers are allowed to sell remaining stocks and there are no restrictions on them being used.

The benefits of using LEDs in your holiday home

  1. Longer life – LED lights are proven to have a greater lifespan than their incandescent or halogen counterparts. It is estimated that an LED light will last for 11 years of continuous use.  That’s 20 years with your light on for eight hours a day, and a lot less spent on new bulbs every year.
  2. Save on your bills – LED lighting operates at around 80-90% efficiency, compared to the 20% efficiency of its traditional counterpart.
  3. Eco-friendly – LED lights contain no toxic materials and, for that reason, are usually recyclable. Given the longer lifespan, one LED light can save the materials and production of 25 traditional bulbs. In the average home that adds up to in the region of 250-350 bulbs!

General Lamp Safety

  • Always use a lampshade on lamps across your holiday home
  • Place lamps on a stable surface in all rooms
  • Ensure wires and cables are neatly arranged and not stretched across the floor
  • Consider where lamps are in children’s bedrooms and whether they are near to combustible materials, such as bed linen, curtains or other potentially flammable materials
  • Always keep the immediate area around a lamp clear
  • Consider switching to cooler LED bulbs

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.

 

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.

 

Outdoor Play Equipment

Outdoor Play EquipmentWith spring and summer ahead, it will be natural for holiday cottage guests to start spending more time outside. For many families, having the space and facilities for kids to play during their stay is important. For this reason installing outdoor play equipment, if you haven’t already got it, could be a great idea.

If you’re looking to purchase or replace outdoor play equipment at your holiday home or cottage complex, there are a few things for you to consider. Let’s take a look at what those are before you take the plunge…

Invest in quality outdoor play equipment

When it comes to your holiday home it’s essential that you invest in the highest quality equipment available. It not only reduces the risk of accidents as a result of faulty parts or poor construction, it will also last longer, making it a solid long term investment.

We always recommend purchasing any play equipment from a reputable seller, and always follow installation and maintenance guidelines, as tempting as it may be to believe you don’t need the instructions.

Whilst insurance policies tend to come with public liability as standard. You have a duty of care to take reasonable precautions to reduce any potential risks to your guests. Make sure that any play equipment carries the CE or GS mark. Equally it is important that the equipment is installed, maintained, and operated in accordance with manufacturers guidelines. (It’s worth keeping a log of when you last checked it, and other things such as when it is stored inside for winter).

What is the recommended age?

Not all outdoor play equipment is suitable for all ages, so make sure that you’re clear on what age group your outdoor play equipment is suitable for. Ensure that this age is explicitly stated in your welcome information pack, and stress to families that children above and below that age should not be using the equipment.

Essential safety features

Making your new outdoor play equipment as safe as possible. Thus ensuring that your guests have a safe stay in your cottage. Only install equipment that can be secured to the ground. Also it’s important to provide children with plenty of space around the equipment. This is particularly important with items such as trampolines, which will dictate a safe distance in their literature. Check that ropes have protection against wear at their fixing points on swings, and that the sides of slides are at least 64mm high.

Climbing frames must not be any more than 2 metres high. Any equipment that is over 0.6 meters high must have an impact absorbent surface beneath.

Regular inspections

Detailed monthly inspections of play equipment need to be carried out to ensure that it is fit for use. Ropes, bolts, and security must all be checked and repaired or disposed of as necessary. You will also need to frequently clean the equipment.

Always keep a record of when maintenance checks have been undertaken and be sure to have a process for undertaking this activity in place.

Do you have a sand pit?

If you do then you’ll need to be be aware of Toxocariasis, an infection caused by worms commonly found in the intestines of dogs. Children who come into contact with contaminated sand or soil are at risk. We recommend that sand pits are covered when not in use. Animal faeces should be cleaned up at the earliest opportunity. If your accommodation is dog friendly then it’s good to make sure guests are aware of this in their welcome pack.

Check your holiday cottage insurance cover

When making any changes, we always encourage clients to let us know. Play equipment of the type can be found in many DIY stores and some garden centres. Outdoor play equipment carrying the CE or GS mark will generally be fine. It should always be installed, maintained, and operated in accordance with manufacturer’s guidelines. It is always worth getting in touch with your holiday home insurance broker for guidance when adding additional facilities.

Please note that this article on outdoor play equipment and guest safety is only intended as an overview of what you need to be doing in each of these areas.  For further information please contact the relevant authority and read up on all procedures and requirements. Please read the ROSPA guidance which can be found here.

If you have questions about outdoor play equipment and your policy, get in touch on cottages@boshers.co.uk

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. Require a quote for your holiday apartment, cottage or complex? Please give us a call on 01237 429444.

holiday cottage guests

holiday cottage guestsIt’s the small touches that make a big difference when it comes to high quality accommodation. Guests notice the small touches; the fresh flowers, the neatly made bed, the detailed welcome pack. These things show that you care, and they will make your accommodation stand out to visitors.

VisitEngland has a highly informative guide that shows how they rate accommodation. As well as looking at the cleanliness and management efficiency of a holiday cottage, they look for attention to detail. That detail can make a dramatic difference to the quality of your property. So what should you be doing to ensure that your holiday cottage provides a great experience for your guests?

Avoid overcrowding

Whilst it may be tempting to say that your two bedroom holiday cottage can accommodate six guests, you must think about how comfortable that would really be for visitors! Two double beds and a futon may have the sleeping covered, but what about when six people are fighting over the bathroom or are trying to cook dinner in a small kitchen? Ensuring that guests have plenty of space will greatly improve their experience of your property.

Provide hairdryers for your guests

Hairdryers are one of those things that no one really wants to pack, so make life easier for your guests and ensure that there is one in each bedroom (preferably within easy reach of a mirror). This simple action can be really appreciated by visitors, particularly if it’s a girls’ weekend! You could even go a step further and provide hair straighteners.

Buy high quality beds

If you wouldn’t want to sleep more than one night on the beds in your holiday cottage, then why are they there? VisitEngland suggests that you try being a guest in your own holiday home. We definitely think you should spend a few nights ensuring that the beds are comfortable. A bad night’s sleep can ruin a guest’s stay, and it’s even worse if it gives them a bad back! Investing in high quality beds will give your visitors a great night’s sleep, and they’ll last longer too, so they’re not as costly as you may think.

Champagne flutes, not just wine glasses

This easy-to-do touch adds a real element of luxury to your holiday cottage. A stay in your property may be for a special occasion, and that’s when the bubbly comes out. Champagne out of a wine glass just hasn’t got that touch of class and luxury; for such a small cost this simple gesture can go a long way.

Save them from washing up

Nobody likes to spend their holiday doing the washing up, which is why a dishwasher is great addition to any holiday cottage. Whether there’s a family staying or a group of friends, they’ll love being able to focus on enjoying quality time together free from wrinkly hands and marigold gloves!

If you’d like to take a fuller look at what Visit England believes makes a great holiday home for visitors, please visit this link: VisitEngland Self Catering Accommodation Quality Standard  

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. Require a quote for your holiday apartment, cottage or complex? Please give us a call on 01237 429444.

Holiday Home Winter Maintenance

Holiday Home Winter MaintenanceThese essential holiday home winter maintenance tips should help you survive the low season claim free. This time of year is an interesting one for many holiday homeowners; whilst there’s been a trend towards an increase in bookings during the first few months of each year, for many this will still be the lowest period of occupancy and at a time when the great British weather can be at its most unforgiving.

Although it may seem a good time to lock the cottage door, shut everything down for a few months and get some well-earned rest, there are still a few things you’ll need to be doing in order to make sure your holiday home is in tip top condition for when your guests begin to arrive in their droves once more.

Here’s a timely reminder of what you should and need to be doing at this time of year, congratulations if you’re already on top of them all.

Getting your holiday home ready for significant weather

Step one; make sure that the property is fit to withstand winter weather. Wind, rain, and even snow can cause real damage to properties so some quick visual checks can make sure that your property stands in good stead to fight them off.

One of the most common causes of damage is loose roof slates; how are yours looking? Have a qualified roofer carry out any maintenance that may be required.

Another is the blockage of drains and downpipes causing water to collect in large volumes; when was the last time yours were checked and cleaned? Remember leaves, a key culprit when it comes to blockages, have been falling for a number of months now.

Trees, hedges and gardens also need a prune to stop any large branches becoming flying objects that can do damage to not only your own cottage, but those living or parked nearby.

Avoiding frozen pipes

As insurers we know there’s nothing like Jack Frost when it comes to claims and damage to properties; your heating shouldn’t be turned off at this period. Ensure that it’s set to a minimum temperature throughout your holiday home to prevent pipes from freezing. If you able to do so also ensure the water is turned off to minimise the chances of water escaping through pipes bursting or failed plumbing. If you’re unable to leave the heating on then all water systems should be drained after turning off the supply at the stop cock.

Opportunist thieves

Low visitor numbers mean plenty of unoccupied properties and therefore for potential targets for those looking to take advantage.  If you do have sporadic visitors during this period, then make sure that you use something such as a key safe and that the code for this safe is changed on a regular basis.

If you live some distance from your holiday home, have someone check the property on a regular basis. Regular visits can minimise the chances of a break in. As can ensuring that all doors and windows are locked once guests have departed.

Complying with policy conditions

Insurance policy conditions aren’t there to get insurers out of a claim or to be overly officious. They’re there to help you minimise the risks to your property.

Being aware of the conditions in your policy will ensure that you know you’re adhering to everything you need to. If you make a claim, you’ll be confident that you have taken due care of your property. In doing so you’ll also be minimising the risks to your holiday cottage and guests. We are always upfront and clear about our policy conditions but just incase you need reminding, click below to reveal them:

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. We’re here to help and support you as a holiday homeowner. If you require advice or an insurance quote please give us a call on 01237 429444.

BREXIT UK HOLIDAY LETTING

BREXIT UK HOLIDAY LETTING

“Should I stay or should I go?”

The famous lyrics to a well-known Clash song may well be finally answered when Britain takes to the ballot box in the upcoming EU referendum on 23rd June. What’s been clear for all to see is that there’s two sides to every tale, and the potential impact an exit from the European Union would have on Britain’s holiday letting and tourism industry is no different.

So would Britain really be cut adrift and float off into the tourist wilderness if we decide to go ahead and BREXIT, or would we thrive as a stronger, single European Union?

The tourist industry as a whole relies on visitors; we need them to occupy our holiday letting properties, we need them to eat in our restaurants and we need them to enjoy everything our incredibly diverse nation has to offer.

A key question is therefore how many of our European cousins are currently descending upon Blighty for their pre-summer getaway? The latest statistics from Visit Britain suggest there were more visits to the UK from EU states in February than the rest of the world combined, with a year on year increase of 8%.

The broader picture is also healthy one in recent times; there were 19.66 million visits to the UK from the EU last year, up 3.18% from 2014 (Visit Britain Statistics). When they’re here they’re spending a staggering £8.2bn, also up in real terms by £62.7 million on the previous year.

But what is unclear is the impact that any exit would have on these people visiting our shores and enjoying our holiday homes.

The Liberal Democrat peer Lord Lee of Trafford is certainly someone who has strong views on the subject; he suggests we’re too reliant on EU workers and visitors to contemplate a split from the Union, a view that is substantiated and supported by a new report recently published by MPs.

Addressing fellow peers in the House of Lords he stated “with two-thirds of overseas visitors coming from the EU” and the sector being substantially supported by migrant seasonal workers, an exit would be an “absolute disaster and supreme folly”, with the risk being a departure from the current status quo would put at jeopardy ongoing levels of visitor migration.

As with most claims and counterclaims between the leave and stay campaigns these statements have been strongly rebuffed, with opposition saying that the UK tourism brand has grown large and strong enough to resist any seismic change in our relationship with Europe. Others have simply said that they don’t believe visitors will simply stop coming to Britain because our membership card is no longer there.

So should we stay or should we go?

We may get our answer on 23rd June, but either way the consequences are sure to reverberate throughout the holiday letting and tourism industry for many years to come.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support you if you’re buying a holiday cottage to let, please give us a call on 01237 429444.

Time is running out for holiday cottage owners to upgrade their property while simultaneously cutting their tax bills. A £30m tax break, which cuts the cost of second homes for more than 65,000 families, is to be withdrawn next month because of EU laws. Read the full article here 

Tax reliefs on Furnished Holiday Lettings – unexpected bonus for UK holiday home owners. According to various articles in the press, the Government has dropped the removal of tax relief on Furnished Holiday Lettings. This was one of several tax increases in the Budget, due to be enacted before Parliament was dissolved prior to the General Election on the 6th May.
The tax increases were abandoned after negotiations to fast-track the Finance Act through Parliament ahead of the General Election on the 6th May. The Conservatives had refused to sanction the fast-tracking of the legislation – unless these changes were dropped.
This will at least buy more time for political lobbying against these potentially damaging tax changes and meanwhile offers a welcome reprieve for Furnished Holiday Let Owners. 

2010 Budget | Furnished Holiday Letting (FHL). As announced last year, the tax advantages of Furnished Holiday Letting businesses will be withdrawn with effect from 6th April 2010. Income from FHL will be treated in the same way as income from other property rents. This means there will be less advantageous offset of losses and a number of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) reliefs will no longer be available. However according to our accountants, it appears that Entrepreneurs’ Relief will apply to disposals of a FHL property within 3 years of 5th April 2010, potentially reducing the effective rate of CGT on up to £2m of gains from 18% to 10%.

Furnished Holiday Lets | Your Emergency Tax Planning Guide
Boshers Holiday Home Insurance clients and friends can follow the link to purchase a copy of this invaluable guide and receive a 30% discount off of the RRP of £24.95 + £1.95 postage and packing. Simply use the discount code BOSHERS which is case sensitive. Please note that Boshers Ltd have no connection with the Tax Cafe and will not receive any remuneration from the sale of their publications, instead this is passed on as a saving to you. This book will be of interest to Holiday Home Owners and may just throw up some interesting points to discuss with your professional advisers.

Here is another Tax Guide written by renowned property tax expert Carl Bayley and published by respected Taxation advisors, Tax-Cafe.co.uk. 

Holiday Home Insurance Specialists, Boshers Ltd have negotiated a 30% discount off the purchase price of £24.95 + £1.95 P&P for our clients and friends. For discount code details and information on how to purchase a copy click this link: Furnished Holiday Lets – Emergency Tax Guide – 30% Discount 
Tom Entwistle of www.landlordzone.co.uk recently published the following review: “Given Carl’s extensive knowledge of UK property taxation rules, this guide is about as good as it gets in regard Furnished Holiday Lettings taxation, coming up to the major changes in the law after 6 April 2010.

Despite the many uncertainties as to the exact situation after 6th April, as we are still waiting on detailed guidelines from HMRC, Carl gives some very relevant insights into the future and some valuable pointers as to what you can do in the short-term, if you are in the Holiday Lettings business.

Carl starts by comprehensively recapping the rules as they stand today; examining each of the main tax reliefs available until 5th April next, in turn.

One by one he considers what action landlords can take in the short-term to maximise the reliefs they can claim before the abolition of the current regime.

Having considered the short term, Carl goes on to consider the potential future landscape after 6th April next. Using lots of practical examples the guide is easy to follow for the layman and professional alike.

Interestingly, chapter 8 considers a possible “work-a-round” in the form of a Trading Status alternative to Holiday Lettings Businesses, similar to that of guest houses and hotels.

Chapter 9 considers the issues around adopting property as holiday lets in the time left, and Chapter 10 looks at the temporary extension of the Furnished Holiday Lettings regime to the European Economic Area (EEA).

This tax guide is a must for any landlord with Holiday lets.”

Buy your copy of Furnished Holiday Lets – Emergency Tax Guide – by Carl Bayley BSc ACA at a 30% Discount here.