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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.

self-catering cottage businessHaving the right insurance cover will help you run your self-catering cottage business with confidence. As a holiday letting insurance specialist we have pulled together a few pointers to consider when insuring your cottage complex:

  • Don’t forget however many bookings you take, you are running a self-catering cottage business

There are a wide range of properties being made available for holiday letting. You may holiday let an annexe of your main home, stable or barn conversions, a gate house, or even shepherd’s huts that you intend to holiday let. If they are within the grounds of your home, be sure to make your home insurers aware, as they often do not like businesses being run from the premises and you risk invalidating your cover. Seeking advice from a holiday letting insurance specialist will help you ensure you get the right cover for both the holiday cottage business and your home.

  • Make sure you have the right liability cover for holiday letting

Inviting paying guests into holiday accommodation will inevitably see the occasional slip, trip or injury. It’s vital that you have sufficient Public Liability cover and if you have a hot tub or swimming pool there is a greater risk of Legionellosis so check you also have cover for this. You may employ gardeners, maintenance and housekeeping staff for changeovers. If you do, it is a legal requirement for you to have Employers Liability insurance. Remember, even if you are directing the work of self-employed contractors or employing friends to work on your property, you’ll still need this cover.

  • Protect your income, not just your assets

Loss of income whilst a cottage is unavailable following a claim is often overlooked. Make sure your policy covers all potential bookings lost, not just pre-booked holidays. Your property may be unavailable for a sustained period in the event of a major loss such as a fire, flood or burst pipe, ensure your self-catering cottage business income is fully protected.

  • Heed guidance if you are providing facilities to your guests

Many owners provide additional facilities to help attract guests and secure increased occupancy levels. This may be outdoor play equipment, a swimming pool, sauna or hot tubs. Equally we see pets’ corners, fishing lakes and wedding venues. To protect yourself and your guests, risk assess your additional facilities, provide instruction leaflets and refer to RoSPA safety guidelines. Remember to inspect equipment regularly. Declare all facilities to your insurers and be aware that your policy may contain conditions that you need to follow.

Get the right insurance advice for your self-catering cottage business

The team here at Boshers devote their time to advising owners across the UK on insurance for their self-catering cottages. We’ve been arranging this specialist type of insurance for 30 years. We understand that each self-catering cottage business is unique. We’ll take time to understand your needs and provide you with insurance advice and the right cover.

For additional tips and information on holiday letting visit boshers.co.uk/blog. If you would like an insurance quote for an individual holiday home or cottage or for your self-catering cottage business, give the team a call on 01237 429444.

coastal holiday let

coastal holiday let

Styling a property and making it your home is something that’s completely reliant on your own taste and personality; you’ll ultimately fill it with items that match your own style expectations and that represent you, your family and the ones you love. But when it comes to styling a coastal holiday let to be occupied by countless guests with a broad range of tastes, where do you or should you begin?

You’ll want your coastal holiday let interior to be neutral in order to not alienate anyone thus narrowing your potential market. Equally you’ll want to stand out from the crowd and make sure that your holiday home has the wow factor to make it leap from the website page your potential guests are viewing.

This is particularly pertinent for coastal cottages; many people want to spend their summers (and winters!) by the sea, but how do you stand out from the standardised ‘nautical’ look and feel that has swept the coastlines of the UK?

Here’s just a few tips on styling your coastal holiday let…

Know your target market

Any interior design or furnishing always starts with understanding who’s going to be staying in your holiday cottage.  The look and feel of a family-friendly abode is going to be very different to that romantic bolt-hole for young professionals venturing out of London for the weekend.

So the question is, are you in your own target market? If not, then it can be incredibly difficult to step away from our own tastes or personal preferences and place ourselves into the shoes of those that will be.

The answer? Consider asking the people that matter the most – your own guests. What do they like about the interior of your cottage at the moment? Are there aspects they don’t like? What would they change for the better if they could?

Feedback forms are often filled out by guests on departure. However these rarely veer from the generic questions of overall quality and satisfaction. If you’re considering renovating or refurbishing your holiday home, perhaps take the opportunity to ask your guests for their opinions.

Less is sometimes more

If you’re based on the coast, then it can be tempting to sweep through your holiday home with swathes of white and pastoral blues, but the latest trends and interior design experts suggest that less in this case certainly is more.

They recommend using blues as an accent colour, rather than one of dominance, which if you’re wanting to welcome guests to your holiday home in the winter months is certainly worth bearing in mind as blue is always thought to be a cooler colouring by the human psyche.

Avoid the cliché

Lighthouse lamps, porthole mirrors, seashells, rope, anchors, wall-hung oars and endless prints of ships. How many of these feature in your coastal holiday home? Props in your holiday home can not only lead to a forced style, but also clutter and if you’re welcoming young children into your property, create situations where such items can be easily broken or lead to harm.

A holiday home will generally be more lightly furnished than your own home. So always ensure props or any additional pieces become features rather than clutter.

So what actually is in style?

The people in the interior design know tell us that in-vogue at the moment are:

  • classic tongue and groove panelling,
  • painted floorboards,
  • galvanised metals and weathered paintwork

Accessorising with antique mirrors, worn leather chairs, white china, glass jars and vintage enamelware will finish the look.

No matter what the current trend, your styling success will ultimately come down to connecting with your target market. By finding common ground with them and placing them at the heart of every decision, you’ll not go far wrong.

Remember when creating the perfect style for your coastal holiday let be sure to review your sums insured. After all that hard work you’ll not want to fall short on cover should the worst happen.

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.

UK tourism figures

Holiday Cottage SignageMany holiday homeowners will proudly display their award wins and certifications on entry to, or outside their property. If your accommodation is of a high quality it’s only right that you’ll want people to know, and tasteful positioning of holiday cottage signage is an obvious way of communicating this to visiting guests and passing trade.

If you display any outdoor signs or advertisements there are two regulations you need to comply with:

  • The Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 2007
  • The Consumer Protection Regulations 2008 (CPRs) relating to unfair trading and misleading marketing.

Broadly speaking, the first of these deals with planning permission and the second ensures that your signage is accurate and not misleading to potential guests.

We take a closer look at how you can make sure you stay on the right side of the relevant regulations…

Signs on your holiday home or cottage complex – do you need planning permission?

The need for planning permission for signage on your holiday home can be broken down into three categories:

Fully illuminated signs:  If you want to add a sign that is illuminated it will always require express consent from your Local Planning Authority (LPA). The only exception to this would be if the sign were to be placed inside a window, rather than a doorway or exterior wall.

Partially illuminated signs: If only the letters of your sign are illuminated you may not require express planning permission and it is worth contacting your LPA to check on this.

Non-illuminated signs: These can usually be displayed with deemed planning consent, which is when the permission is deemed to have already been given by the planning authority through their rules and regulations, and there is no need to apply for it.

Listed Buildings

If your holiday home is a listed building you will need to seek planning permission before adding any signage, or making alterations to any existing signage that has already gained planning permission.

How about signage at the entrance to your holiday home or cottage complex?

Many of your guests will be visiting your holiday home for the first time so it’s a sensible idea to have to have signage to make sure they know they’ve arrived in the right place. You will normally be allowed to erect a non-illuminated sign by your gate, driveway or within the grounds of your holiday home with deemed consent (subject to limitations on overall size, height and size of characters or symbols).

Directional signs away from your holiday home

For those situated off the beaten track, you may consider placing directional signs at the end of the road, lane, or wherever guests trying to find your holiday home commonly come unstuck.

If you’re looking at placing signs of this sort away from your holiday home they will always require planning permission.

Please note that planning is a complex area and this holiday cottage signage article is only meant as a guide to some of the permissions required as a holiday homeowner. If you’re in any doubt as to whether you require planning permission or not please contact your Local Planning Authority.

If you have found this blog post on Holiday Cottage Signage and planning permission of interest do check out our other holiday home marketing posts by following the link – Holiday Home Marketing.

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.

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.

Holiday Lettings - A Tax Overview

Holiday Lets and Tax – What you need to know

Holiday Lettings - A Tax OverviewWe take a look at some of the tax issues holiday homeowners need to be aware of in this article Holiday Letting ~ A Tax Overview

Have you declared your holiday rental income?

When you begin letting a holiday home it’s imperative you tell HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) about your new rental income as you may have to pay tax on it.

If you’re new to renting a holiday home or have been letting your property for some time and not yet instructed HMRC, it’s advisable to approach them in order for your case to be considered more favourably.

HMRC are currently running a ‘Let Property Campaign’; this encourages holiday homeowners to declare unpaid tax on their let property in order to gain the best possible terms on their tax return.

If you’d like to find out more about this scheme please click here to read our full article on the HMRC Let Property Campaign.

How much holiday rental income do I need to gain before declaration?

If you own a holiday home in your own name, HMRC indicate you must report any rental income above £2,500 in a year through your Self Assessment tax return.

If the rent from your holiday cottage is less than this figure you’ll need to report it to the Self Assessment Helpline by calling 0300 200 3310 (+44 161 931 9070 if you are calling from outside the UK).

What if my holiday cottage is owned by a company?

If your holiday home is owned by a company you’ll be required to show rental income in the same way as any other business income.

What costs can I claim to reduce the tax on my holiday home?

As a holiday homeowner your property may be eligible for Furnished Holiday Letting Rules, which provide potentially advantageous treatment of ‘self catering’ accommodation, treating your property as a trade (from which you create profit and a living from it) rather than an investment.

If you are able to qualify you’ll be allowed to claim capital allowances on furniture and furnishings in your holiday home, as well as equipment used outside the cottage, such as tools for maintenance.

You will also be able to claim a range of Capital Gains Tax reliefs, such as Business Asset Rollover Relief, or with many holiday homes owned by married couples, be able to allocate profits in any proportion required, irrespective of the spouses actual shares in the ownership of the property.

How do I qualify?

You’ll only be able to claim these benefits if all the following apply:

  • Your holiday home is open to guests for at least 210 days a year.
  • Your holiday home is let for more than 105 days a year.
  • No single guests stays for more than 31 days.
  • You charge the going rate for similar holiday homes in the area (referred to as the ‘market value’).

If you own the property personally, your profits count as earnings for pension purposes.

Click here for the latest Guidance document on Furnished Holiday Lettings Self-Assessment.

Working out your holiday home profits for tax

If you have holiday homes that qualify as Furnished Holiday Lets it’s important to work out the profit or loss from these in isolation.

This is to ensure you only claim the favourable tax conditions on qualified properties.

If you own other cottages that don’t currently qualify you’ll need to work out the net profit or loss of all of the properties, as if it is one single business.

What if your holiday home makes a loss?

Deduct any losses from your profit and enter the figure on your Self Assessment form. You can potentially offset a loss against future profits by carrying it forward to a later year, or against profits from other furnished holiday lettings (if you own more than one holiday home).

For more information on Holiday Home tax please visit:

Here are some helpful links on the Furnished Holiday Letting Tax Rules to complement the information contained in Holiday Letting ~ A Tax Overview:

Please note that this article gives only an overview of Holiday Letting ~ A Tax Overview and is not intended as Tax Advice. We suggest you take advice from a qualified professional before making any decisions in this area or contact the HMRC for further guidance. 

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. 

 

If you let out a furnished holiday home in the UK or the European Economic Area (EEA), you may be entitled to certain tax advantages. However, your property must meet some rules to qualify.
Rules for furnished holiday lettings for the 2011-12 tax year
To make sure your property qualifies as a furnished holiday letting, it must be: 

  • in the UK or EEA
  • furnished
  • available for commercial letting to the public, as holiday accommodation, for at least 140 days a year (210 days for 2012-13)
  • commercially let as holiday accommodation for at least 70 days a year (105 days for 2012-13) – the rent must be charged at market rate and not at cheap rates to friends and family
  • a short term letting of no more than 31 days 
Tax advantages of furnished holiday lettings

The tax advantages if your property qualifies as a furnished holiday letting are: 
  • you can claim capital allowances
  • you get the benefit of some favourable Capital Gains Tax rules when you sell or `otherwise dispose’ of the property 
 
If your property doesn’t qualify 

If your property doesn’t qualify as a furnished holiday letting – for example you own a holiday villa outside of the EEA or you don’t let it out for enough days – you’ll be taxed under the residential property lettings rules. 

Furnished holiday lettings have for many years benefited from being treated as a trade for income tax purposes giving commercially let holiday home owners some tax advantages over other lettings. 
The special rules for Furnished Holiday Lettings (FHL) for 2011-2012 have changed and they will change again in 2012-2013. There are significant changes regarding the Qualifying tests and it is for this reason that HMRC have released an advanced copy of Helpsheet 253 – Furnished Holiday Lettings to help owners plan their lettings in order that they may continue to qualify.
FHL Qualifying Tests for 2011-2012 and for 2012-2013 and later
All three of the following tests must be satisfied if a letting is to qualify:
1. The availability condition (availability test/threshold) – during the period (normally the tax year), the accommodation is available for commercial letting as holiday accommodation to the public for at least 140 days (210 days for 2012–13 onwards).
2. The letting condition (occupancy test/threshold) – during the period the accommodation is commercially let as holiday accommodation to the public for at least 70 days (105 days for 2012–13 onwards).

3. The pattern of occupation condition – the accommodation must not be let for periods of longer-term occupation for more than 155 days during the year.

 
For those contemplating longer lets of 31 days or more, be warned that these will not qualify towards your qualification. More information is available in HMRC’s Helpsheet 253 – Furnished Holiday Lettings and your normal tax adviser. You may also wish to begin discussions with your holiday home letting agent on what measures you may need to take in order to maximise your occupancy rates and therefore continue to qualify from the valuable FHL tax benefits. 

As furnished holiday lettings insurance specialists our holiday home insurance policy holders benefit from cover that is designed around the needs of commercially let holiday homes, apartments and cottages. We have no restrictions on the number of weeks that your second home may be let throughout the year. For more information about holiday let insurance, visit www.boshers.co.uk 

Good News In June Budget for Furnished Holiday Let Owners. Today the Chancellor of the Exchequer has set out his Budget. The measures announced will reduce the deficit, introduce a fairer tax system, and encourage an enterprise and growth agenda in the UK.

The Budget 2009 proposal to repeal the special tax rules for furnished holiday lettings will not be implemented. Instead, the Government will consult over the summer on an alternative proposal to ensure the tax treatment of holiday lettings meets EU legal requirements in a fiscally responsible way, which does not penalise UK businesses, by changing the eligibility thresholds and restricting the use of loss relief.

Nick Braund of taxcafe.co.uk commented, “The Chancellor’s decision to reinstate the previous rules for furnished holiday lettings is a tremendous boost for all those hard working owners of holiday properties. Furnished holiday lets will once again be one of the most tax efficient forms of property investment, with preferential income tax and capital gains tax treatment. All of the tax reliefs enjoyed by FHL owners are fully deserved when once considers the important contribution this sector makes to the economy”. 

You may be interested in reading HM Revenue & Customs – Furnished Holiday Lettings – Q & A here