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How to start a holiday let business

Whilst owning a holiday cottage can be a financially rewarding and exciting venture, it can be incredibly daunting knowing where to start and what to do. There are a myriad of elements to consider. To help you on your holiday letting journey, we’ve summarised the key points on how to start a holiday let business.

Use the quick links below to read about a particular topic, or continue reading for a detailed breakdown of our how to start a holiday let business.

1. Buying a holiday home

If you haven’t yet purchased the property you are going to let, there are a few key points to consider when looking at holiday homes.

Area and location

As with buying any property, location is key. If you want your holiday home to be busy all year round, then it makes sense to choose a popular location with an active tourist market. Topping the most desirable destinations in the UK, the South West is where 31% of holiday makers plan to visit. For more insight on purchasing a holiday let property in the area, read our guide on where to buy a second home in South Devon.

How to start a holiday let business views

The area and location of your holiday let will determine the type of guests you will cater to. Seaside locations are perfect for families, whereas small apartments in the middle of a bustling town may be more suited to couples. Having a property in the countryside may appeal to a select type of guest more interested in outdoors activities, or to those with dogs. It’s naturally worth looking at what else is out there and identifying if there is a niche that isn’t being filled in the local area.

2.How to get your property ready for letting

Furnishing, decorating and features

With an increasingly competitive market in self-catering holiday cottages, guests are becoming far more discerning when choosing where to stay. In order to make your property enticing to guests, furnishings and décor are key.

How to start a holiday let interior

It is advisable to equip and furnish your holiday cottage to the highest standard. It pays to invest in quality pieces which add comfort and enhance the guests experience. For more decorating ideas and tips from the experts, read more about the top 10 Devon brands for styling your home’s interior or take a look at our comprehensive blog on how to furnish a holiday let.

Include additional features in  your holiday let

Including additional features can do wonders in increasing your booking rate. Having just a few extra amenities could mean a notable increase in sales. In our experience, the top five most popular property features guests look for are gardens, wifi, off-road parking, a dishwasher and a high chair. In 2019 our most booked property type was a luxury, pet-friendly, three bed property with an open fire.

Adding a hot tub to your holiday cottage could increase occupancy by up to 14%, and having a pet-friendly accommodation could earn you on average 11% more per year, according to data from the annual Sykes Cottages staycation index. Read our blog hot tub guide for holiday lets for more on the benefits of a hot tub in your property.

Should my holiday home be dog friendly?

With almost a third of British people taking their pets on holiday, it’s worth looking into whether it would be worth you making your holiday cottage dog-friendly. Read through our blog which covers the pro’s and con’s of allowing pets in your holiday home.

How to start a holiday let business dog

3. Holiday let rules and regulations

A holiday let is subject to specific legal requirements. These rules and regulations are in place to not only protect your guests, but you and your holiday let business. While at first look it may seem complicated, once you understand them and put measures in place, it is relatively straightforward.


Understanding the legalities involved and knowing what type of holiday let business you qualify as is your first step. If your holiday cottage is available to guests for short rental periods over 30 weeks or more in a year, it is classified as a business and will need to be registered for business rates. Fortunately, there are tax relief schemes available for properties classed as Furnished Holiday Lets. For more information read our Furnished Holiday Let tax guide or a visit the HMRC HS252 help guide for more information.

How to start a holiday let business

Holiday home insurance and mortgages

Whether you already own your holiday cottage or intend to buy a property to let, it is imperative to inform your mortgage lender. If you intend to take out a mortgage, this will influence the type of loan as well as which lender to choose. Be sure to understand what the various qualifying requirements are for holiday let mortgages.

All our owners are required to ensure that they have public liability insurance in place alongside their holiday home insurance cover.

Planning permission

Letting your holiday property does not require planning permission since there is no change of use, but it’s worthwhile checking that there are no clauses regarding commercial letting in your lease or conveyancing agreement. Read our blog on holiday let planning permission for more information.

Health and safety

In order to make sure your property is suitable as a holiday let, it is advisable to do an overall risk assessment to make sure you have your health and safety regulations covered. By law, you are required to have an annual gas safety check, PAT testing for electronics and a valid fire risk assessment.

These are just a few of the key considerations to be aware of. Read our blog on holiday let rules and regulations for further guidance in understanding the legal requirements for letting your holiday property.

4. How much money can you make from a holiday let business?


Working out a pricing strategy for your holiday let is necessary in order to gain maximum profit and maintain good occupancy levels throughout the year. Having an inflated price is likely to deter guests from booking but charging too little can negatively impact on your earnings. Your ability to charge will be directly related to a number of contributing factors. The value, size and geographic location of your holiday cottage together with the number of guests you can host form the basis of setting your pricing. It’s important to consider the current demand in your area as well as what similar properties are charging. Offering special low-season rates , last minute booking as as well as short breaks will all contribute to better bookings and more profit.

Our New Property Consultants can visit your property and give a no-obligation assessment of its rental potential, the income you can expect and the costs that it will incur. Our expert team understand the market place in South Devon, and can offer expert advice on what pricing strategy will help to secure your maximum potential income when you start your holiday let business.

Cost of running a holiday home

Making sure that your incomings are more than your outgoings may seem logical, but it is important to understand all the costs involved in running a holiday let. Read our extensive guide on the cost of running a holiday let in order to make sure you have a detailed understanding of what this involves.

Advertising and marketing

Ensuring your property is correctly advertised and promoted to the right market is key to driving bookings and income. Choosing to let your property with an agency such as Coast and Country Cottages offers extensive marketing and advertising support. We make sure your property is put in the spotlight, with listings on both the Coast and Country Cottages and the Sykes Cottages websites.

5. Running your holiday let business

While it may seem relatively straightforward, running a holiday let can be time consuming, challenging and complex. Understanding and managing the practicalities involved in running a holiday let is key to its success.

Managing holiday home changeovers

Organising and managing the changeover between bookings is an important and time critical aspect of your holiday let, and it’s imperative to make sure that you get it right. From cleaning and laundry, to maintenance and key collection, every holiday home will be different and have its own unique complexities.

How to start a holiday let business

Understanding the operational side of your holiday let business may help you determine whether to be ‘hands on’ when managing your property, or use an experienced agency like Coast and Country Cottages to run the day-to-day management of your holiday cottage.

Read our blog on choosing the right holiday home management solution for you.

Cleaning, housekeeping and laundry

After each booking it’s crucial that you conduct a thorough clean of every room in the house as well as outside spaces. General housekeeping, co-ordination of cleaning services, supply of linen and towels, property checks and maintenance are all part of the process.

Read through our blog on everything you need to know about cleaning, housekeeping and laundry in order to prepare your holiday home for guests.

Holiday home property maintenance

Guests expect a high level of service and quality in a holiday home. It is paramount to stay on top of the maintenance and upkeep of your holiday let and ensure it is in tip-top condition. It always pays to sort problems as and when the issue occurs rather than putting it off.

While some issues are easy to fix, like replacing a light bulb or tightening a loose handle, other jobs are a bit more complex and would benefit from planning, comprehensive advice and qualified tradesmen.

The winter months can be particularly hard on any home, so with a bit of planning and maintenance, winterising your holiday let can protect and prevent any unnecessary damage.

Garden maintenance

How to start a holiday let business garden

A beautiful and well-maintained garden makes a holiday home far more attractive to guests. Whether your home has sprawling gardens or a cosy courtyard, make sure you carry out at least the basics in maintenance and upkeep. Always ensure the area is tidy of leaves and unsightly weeds, trim overgrown plants and mow the lawn.

Guest information and welcome pack

Making your guests feel welcome, comfortable and at home can go a long way. A well-presented and carefully considered welcome pack with relevant information about the property, directions on using the appliances and other similar instructions takes the hassle out of a guests stay. Additional notes with emergency contact details, closest shops, the best eateries and convenient transportation links are always gratefully received, especially if guests are new to the area. Extra touches like these can improve your online reviews. Read our guide on how to create the perfect guest information pack to welcome your guests.

How to start a holiday let business with the help of our expert team

We pride ourselves on the outstanding local service we offer, delivering exceptional results, with high levels of booking and income for our owners. We can provide support and advice on every aspect of making your investment a success, from planning and development to income forecasts and interior design.

New to holiday letting? With our tailor-made service and years of experience, we can guide and support you to ensure that when you start your holiday let business you get the best out of your property. Whether you have a holiday property for your own use that you want to pay for itself, or if you are looking for an investment opportunity, we’ll be by your side every step of the way. For more detailed information, read our blog on are holiday lets a good investment?

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If you’re looking to start a holiday letting business, the following owner guides may be useful to you:

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* Statistics are accurate to the best of our knowledge at the date of publishing. Taken from  Sykes Cottages staycation index 2019 & Barclays staycation report.