Renting a holiday house – advice and tips
The holiday rental market is buoyant. Abroad there are new countries being admitted to the European Union bringing with them new and exotic places. At home short breaks are becoming increasingly popular as people seek to accommodate leisure breaks with a busy life style.
What should you expect from these holidays and what should you be aware of?
The following advice relates to the UK market
Who do you rent from, direct or through an agent?
Some of the questions below discuss what you should expect from an agency business but as a generalisation agency lets should provide a better chance of having a happy holiday.
Do I have to pay a deposit?
Most of the time the answer is yes. However the amount can vary considerably. We would not expect any deposit to be more than 50% of the total holiday rental and often it will be around 1/3rd. However sometimes you might come across a minimum deposit amount and if this is then applied to a short term let or to a low priced holiday house then the deposit percentage is higher.
When will I have to pay the balance?
You should not have to pay the full rental more than 8 weeks before arrival. Often it will be less than this and with often with lets where the owner lives on site or nearby they will take the final rental payment when you arrive.
If I cancel will I get the deposit back?
Cancellation insurance is often available and is usually worth taking out. However with insurance you cannot make the claim until after the booking period has expired just in case a short term or late availability let can be made. In addition you will have had to pay for the holiday and then make the insurance
How do I know what to expect when I arrive?
This is difficult to answer as we all have different expectations. However a good agency should provide you with impartial advice. Make a list of the questions which are important to you and email them through to the agency. That way you have a record of what is said and promised. A brochure or web page should give the very basics which need to know. With agencies they are often restricted to the photographs supplied by the house owners so you might find the quality is variable, however any respectable agency offering a personal service should have staff who have visited the property and can talk in depth about it.
It is always worth telephoning the agency and asking what else they can supply you with to describe the holiday property. Some will have a property particulars sheet, others might email further photographs.
Can I take a pet?
If you are planning on taking your dog it is often worth taking their bed, blankets and towels to help keep the house clean. Also, and equally importantly, please do not leave any dog faeces in the garden!
What about linen?
Should we take our own bed sheets and pillows? This really depends upon the house and the contract. Please check with the agency or owner.
Can I ask to switch to another property let by the same agency?
Yes, but expect that this is treated as a cancellation.
Can I change the dates for the holiday?
Generally this should be possible with the agreement of the house owner. Usually there would be no charge.
With an agency who am I buying the holiday from?
Usually the agency just acts as a booking agent. The contract is generally between you and the house owner.
What do I do if am unhappy with something?
Although your contract is directly with the owner you should expect the agency to be sympathetic and to offer any help they can to resolve the problem.
How do I tell if the agency is good.
This judgement really comes from looking for a number of factors. Any one on its own might not be significant but taken together they will be a good indicator.