There are a range of issues to consider when launching a farm holiday let, from pricing and marketing to the logistics of running and maintaining a property. Claire Longman, Technical Leader for Cornish Mutual, shares her top five.
1. Going through a booking agent
There are many holiday property agents, including some specialising in farm holidays, and recent years have seen an explosion in online booking sites.
At Cornish Mutual we are experiencing a steady increase in enquiries from Members who are considering letting properties through Airbnb and other agencies. If you choose to go through an agent, you may find they have a level of insurance in place. For example, Airbnb has a Host Guarantee scheme, which offers some protection but does not extend to a number of risks, including damage caused to shared or communal areas of the home. It is important to investigate what insurance cover an agent offers and ensure you fully understand any limitations and exclusions. You should then talk to your existing insurer to find out what additional cover you need.
2. Meeting the needs of your guests
Anyone starting out with a holiday let also needs to be clear on who they want to stay at the property. It may be that you want to market your property to families, in which case you will need to carefully consider its suitability for children. You may then need to make some adaptations, such as adding window locks. You should also consider whether you need to make any changes to the property to ensure it is accessible to people with particular needs, for example, installing hand rails. Being clear about who the property is suitable for and then working to ensure those needs are met – getting expert advice if necessary – is the best approach.
3. Keeping up to date risk assessments
Whoever you market the property to, you will need to have an up-to-date risk assessment in writing. This may sound daunting, but it is simply a case of walking around the property, noting any potential risks, and identifying whether you should take steps to remove them. The key is to ensure your risk assessment is up to date by conducting a minimum of yearly checks, and keeping written records.
4. Keeping guests safe on the farm
As well as addressing any risks within the property, owners of farm holiday lets will need to carefully consider whether they want guests to spend time on the farm. When our Members offer organised tours or farm visits for guests, such as inviting them to watch milking time, we would need to ensure appropriate public liability cover is in place. Farms can be dangerous places and we would be concerned about the potential for guests to roam around unsupervised.
5. Managing the property out of season
The most common insurance claims we handle relating to holiday lets are around issues arising when the property is not occupied. We advise our Members to take precautionary steps if their holiday let is likely to be empty for a stretch of time. A property unoccupied over winter is more susceptible to damage caused by flooding, as a result of frozen pipes or blocked gutters, as well as theft or vandalism. As well as regularly checking the property, simple measures, such as lagging pipes, regularly servicing boilers and keeping the heating on low, can help prevent these issues.
Establishing a holiday let may be a very useful additional revenue source but it can be hard work. Spending time carrying out research and seeking professional advice where necessary can save headaches further down the line.
That is why it’s important to talk through your plans in advance with your insurer so they understand exactly what you need. They can then advise you on appropriate insurance cover and should also be able to help you identify ways of reducing some of the risks of problems occurring.
Claire Longman, Technical Leader, Cornish Mutual