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Renting a holiday house – advice and tips

from www.northumbria-byways.com 

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 only, we hope to follow up this article with one dealing with properties abroad.

Who do you rent from, direct or through an agent?

Generally the best way is to chose a holiday house through personal recommendation. That way you should get an unbiased view of what exactly you can expect. But if this isn’t possible we would generally recommend going through an agency.  Bamburgh Castle on Northumberland Coast

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? 

Bamburgh and Budle Bay This really depends upon whether or not the house is re let. If it is then you would expect the monies from the re letting to be applied to whatever you were due to pay and the balance paid back. However agencies will often deduct an administration or cancellation fee. This should usually be under 30. 

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 claim

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? 

This is being asked more often than in the past and many home owners are now happy to allow pets in their property. However some will place a limit on the number of dogs.

Generally you should not leave a dog alone in the house and puppies are mostly excluded.

Hadrian's Wall

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? 

Northumberland National Park If it’s a problem with the property take a photograph as evidence. If this isn’t possible we suggest that you get a local person as a witness. 

Contact the owner or caretaker immediately in order to give them a chance to help sort out the problem. 

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.

1. Long established agency which provides good contact details. Not just a PO box but a proper address.

2. Based in or close to the area which they serve. This should help ensure that they have a personal knowledge of the area. Call centres, at home or abroad, are not ideal.

3. They should have clear terms and conditions. Sometimes these can be over technical and the better agencies will go to the trouble of writing down the meanings in a way that their customers can understand.

4. Very often the first day in your holiday home will be a Saturday, so it is better to have an agency which is open on a Saturday otherwise how will you get help if needed?

5. Brochures. Established agencies will also sell their rental properties through brochures. Again these should be professionally prepared and can be indicative of an established company.

6. There are associations to encourage and support self catering organisations, whether individual house owners or large agencies. Again membership of these associations should provide some evidence that the agency is reputable.


Northumbria Byways is a self catering holiday cottage agency specialising in Northumbria and the borders. With over 10 years experience in the holiday business and being a privately owned company, they have individual knowledge of the properties and take pride in the fact that their fully trained staff have first hand knowledge of Northumberland.




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