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Coronavirus: Advice for Holiday Cottage Owners & Holiday Let Businesses

Reading Time: 15 minutes

Updated 15/10/20

Note: This is not official advice from Schofields, but is intended to provide guidance which may help. Official advice is being updated constantly and can be different for England, Scotland and Wales, so check the recent government guidance. 

These are difficult and unprecedented times that we all find ourselves in. The coronavirus is significantly impacting the travel and tourism industry and although we are in uncharted territory, it’s important that holiday let businesses are prepared.

The next few months are going to be challenging for holiday letting businesses, who are going to face many tough decisions. This page aims to provide some practical guidance to help holiday home owners face the coronavirus crisis as best as possible over the coming weeks and months.

It’s easy to get caught up worrying about your holiday letting business – but it’s essential that you preserve the health of you, your family, staff and guests.

Travel advice

  • Holiday cottages in England are permitted to reopen July 4.
  • Holiday cottages in Wales will be allowed to reopen for bookings from July 11.
  • Self-contained holiday accommodation in Scotland (such as cottages and second homes) with no shared services can open on 3rd July.

Strategies for holiday let businesses during the coronavirus pandemic

Check your holiday home insurance

From a business point of view, the main concern for most holiday home owners is likely to be the financial impact due to loss of income due to cancelled bookings. You may be protected by your holiday home insurance against loss of rent – contact your insurance company to check if you can make a claim.

If you insure your holiday home with Schofields – our claims advice is here.

Will insurance cover be restricted whilst holiday homes are unoccupied?

You may be concerned that due to the current government restrictions on travel or quarantine, the usual inspections of your holiday home cannot take place and your cover may be restricted.

Contact your insurer if you are unable to comply with your policy conditions. Insurers are generally being flexible in their approach towards policy conditions.

Until you are allowed to visit your holiday home, can you ask a trusted neighbour, agent or housekeeper local to the property to check on it? If you can, arrange for them to turn off the water to the property as this will help to prevent any damage that can be caused by escape of water.

How to manage coronavirus cancellations

If guests are unable to travel to your holiday home due to government travel restrictions, how should you handle guest cancellations?

The idea of losing income by providing a refund or amending bookings is very unappealing – owners work hard to obtain bookings. Whilst most owners have terms and conditions in place to cover the majority of eventualities, we are all facing unprecedented circumstances which are regularly changing.

Generally, holidaymakers and owners are being understanding of the current crisis, showing a willingness to compromise and work together to amicably arrive at a mutually acceptable solution.

Every holiday home owner’s situation is unique, and it is your right to manage your business as you see fit.  However, it’s essential that you are fair and don’t breach consumer law (see CMA investigation below).

These are some of the options for you to consider.

Refund

Provide a refund for holidays that are due to start during the Government’s current restrictions on travel. Refunds would normally be subject to the bookings terms and conditions – but in the current circumstances, the legalities of such contracts are under review.

Amend bookings

Allow holidaymakers with a booking that starts during the travel restrictions to defer their booking to a later date this year or sometime in 2021.

Booking credit

If guests are not in a position to re-book their holiday just yet, offer a credit note (for the amount paid to date) which can be used for a future booking.

Most owners would prefer holidaymakers to amend their holiday or receive a booking credit rather than a refund.  Encouraging customers to “postpone don’t cancel” wherever possible. You may wish to offer an incentive: a 5% discount (for life), don’t increase the cost of 2021 trips and don’t have an expiry date for credit notes.

When deferring a booking or providing a credit, make it clear that your normal cancellation terms and conditions will apply to the new booking (unless the coronavirus restrictions are extended to cover the new booking dates). This should hopefully avoid cancellation disputes should guests want to change their dates again or ask for a refund.

Bookings via Airbnb, HomeAway etc.

If your booking is via an OTAs or listing site such as Airbnb, check what their refund and cancellation policies are. Some listing sites are allowing guests to cancel their upcoming holidays and get a full refund.

Enforce cancellation T’s & C’s

There are reports that some owners and agencies are standing firm on their cancellation policies and not refunding or amending bookings – they expect guests to claim on their insurance. However, lots of travel insurance policies do not cover the Covid-19 pandemic.

If you choose this option, you should still refund any expenses you have not incurred – cleaning, welcome basket, utilities, laundry etc.

Which option is right?

It’s essential that you are fair and don’t breach consumer law. Consumers would expect to receive a full refund when a business has cancelled a contract without providing the services or a consumer is prevented from receiving the service e.g. due to a government lockdown.

Whichever approach you choose, beware of controversy. There’s lots of press coverage about disputes between guests wanting a refund and agencies who aren’t in a position to give one. Also, the legalities of booking terms and conditions are questionable. There are reports of legal proceedings pending – so bear this in mind.

Coronavirus cancellations and refunds is a new scenario which hasn’t been tested yet – ultimately, the courts would decide on disputed cases.

CMA investigating cancellation policies

The Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) is investigating concerns about cancellation policies. If it finds evidence that companies are failing to comply with the law, the CMA will take appropriate enforcement action, which could include taking a firm to court if it does not address its concerns. Read more.

Update: 9 June
Following CMA action, Vacation Rentals (which operates popular accommodation sites including Hoseasons and Cottages.com) is now offering refunds for cancelled bookings. The CMA will continue with its inquiries into the holiday accommodation sector, which may ultimately lead to court action against companies which fail to comply.

3 July
Sykes Cottages has reversed its policy on cancelled bookings and will now offer customers full refunds following intervention by the Competition and Markets Authority.

Can guests claim through their travel insurance?

Before you provide a refund, check if guests can claim off their travel insurance.

Depending on where your guests are travelling from and when they took out travel insurance, they might be able to claim on their travel insurance to recover any losses incurred. They might also be covered if they are diagnosed as having contracted Covid-19 or are required to self-isolate.

Unfortunately, some holiday makers have found that their insurance does not cover them during a pandemic.

It is now highly unlikely that holidaymakers will be able to find a travel insurance policy without an exclusion for coronavirus-related claims.

How to handle new bookings

With government guidelines constantly changing, there is always a risk that bookings will subsequently have to be cancelled if further travel restrictions are announced.

Keep in mind that it’s easier to hold on to an existing booking than get a new one. Consider relaxing your cancellation policy and balance payment timeline to help last-minute decision making during these uncertain times. Maybe allow cancellations as late as 3 weeks before arrival and move balance payments to 3 weeks before arrival so that your guests don’t have to pay until the picture becomes clearer.

Hopefully, guests with existing bookings will adopt a wait-and-see policy rather than cancel as the rules are constantly being changed.

Covid-19 risk assessments

In preparation for opening, you will have to risk assess and manage the risks of COVID-19 to your cleaners and guests. There is a sample template on our risk assessment post.

One will also be needed should you wish to apply for one of the various accreditation schemes below.

Covid certification schemes

These are free, online, covid certification schemes from VisitEngland and the AA.

Once completed, holiday let businesses can display certificates at their property and use the logos online to give guests confidence that you are adhering to the Government guidance, have carried out a risk assessment and have the required processes in place.

VisitEngland “We’re Good To Go”
AA’s COVID confident assessment scheme

Deep cleaning and reopening tips for holiday rentals

From disinfecting to using the right products and step-by-step cleaning guidelines, here are some coronavirus deep cleaning tips to help protect your cleaners and guests.

Managing bookings during the coronavirus crisis

What if a guest develops covid-19 symptoms whilst staying at a holiday let?

Guests should not arrive if they have a temperature, feel unwell or display any symptoms of the virus.

But what happens if they develop covid-19 symptoms whilst in your holiday let, can they self-isolate in your property or should they go home?

Here is the Government guidance for accommodation in England

coronavirus symptoms accommodation

For properties in Scotland: see guest illness section.

Here is some helpful information from the NHS on what to do if you fall ill with COVID-19 symptoms whilst on holiday. This can be downloaded from PASC (pdf), placed in your rental and guest information.

Should you have a booking gap between stays?

Some agencies and listing sites are recommending that the property is left empty for a total of 24 hours after the previous guests have checked-out, followed by a deep clean. Booking buffers aim to reduce the risk of potential exposure to the coronavirus, which can remain in the air or on surfaces for several hours or even days.

There is no requirement to leave a property empty. Property owners or managers will have to make a professional judgement on booking buffers depending on their cleaning and sanitisation strategy.

Can you have guests from multiple households?

The rule of six

England: you must not meet with people from other households in groups of more than 6. This rule will not apply to individual households or household bubbles of more than 6 who will still be able to gather together.

Scotland: from 25 September, only one household (or one extended household) is permitted to share self-catering accommodation while the current restrictions on indoor private gatherings are in place.

Wales: the number of people who can meet indoors at any one time is six, excluding children under 11, and all must belong to the same extended household group.

Agencies and property owners are contacting customers who these changes affect to discuss whether they want to adapt their numbers, postpone their holiday or request a refund. At present, there is no indication how long the rule will be in force. However, the rule is likely to impact forward bookings due to take place in the next few months.

Holiday letting businesses should not accept bookings from groups that are clearly exceeding the limit.

Regional lockdowns and “tier system” restrictions

The rules that apply to regional lockdowns vary and change frequently. Before guests travel they should check and understand the relevant legislation that applies to their booking.

England – the advice is that those who live in Tier Three areas should not visit or stay overnight in another part of the UK. Read the Government guidance.

Scotland – people who live in an area with local restrictions, or have a holiday booked in an area affected by a regional lockdown, are still able to go on holiday with members of their own household or extended household. Further information.

Wales – no one is allowed to enter or leave an area affected by a regional lockdown in Wales without a valid reason. Further information. From 16th October people from parts of the UK with high rates of coronavirus will be prevented from travelling to Wales.

Again, guidance from the Competition and Markets Authority says that consumers should expect a full refund if lockdown laws make it illegal to use that service.

QR codes track and trace

It is now a requirement for holiday lets to display their QR code in the accommodation. Each guest should scan the code using their phone, and check in on the NHS Covid-19 app. Further information.

Managing guests

Just like owners, guests will need to adapt to the ‘new normal’ when renting a holiday let. Before they arrive, make sure they know what they should expect/do during their stay.

  • It’s likely that check-in and check-out times will change to allow additional time for cleaning. Many owners expect to change arrivals to 5pm and departures at 9am.
  • Guest information should be stored in wipeable laminated folders. Ideally, you should email guests all the relevant information that they need ahead of their arrival or provide a digital guestbook.
  • Guests will want to take steps to reduce their risk of infection by social distancing. You can reduce person-to-person contact by offering self-check-in and checkout by using a key safe or smart lock.
  • If you provide a welcome basket to guests during their stay, consider only offering items which are sealed or packaged – ideally presented in a wipeable container or simply leave them as stand-alone items.
  • You could leave a ‘covid care pack’ for guests to use during their stay with face masks, disposable gloves, hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes. If you aren’t providing these items then recommend guests bring these items with them.
  • Guests may want to bring their own bedding with them. They should let you know before they arrive, so you can prepare the property to suit their needs. To limit human interaction maybe leave out an additional set of bedding and towels for stays over 7 days, so guests can change them themselves if they wish.
  • Some properties are de-cluttering and removing non-essential amenities that could be regularly touched (e.g. toys, games, books, flyers) and making them available upon request or suggest guests bring their own. Alternatively, rotate items, take them away for 72 hours or consider whether any items can be left and disinfected at changeover.
  • Maintenance during a guests stay should be kept to only essential issues. If a visit is required wear PPE.
  • Ask guests to dispose of their rubbish, keep the property clean and sanitised during their stay, in order to reduce the risk to cleaners, owners and follow on guests.
  • To ensure guests are able to maintain a high standard of cleanliness and hygiene while staying at your holiday home, ensure your holiday rental is well-stocked with plenty of cleaning and sanitising products.

Include:

-Antibacterial hand sanitiser in high traffic areas – leave one by the front door so guests can sanitise their hands as they enter and leave your property
-Disposable gloves and disinfecting wipes
-Disinfectants and cleaning supplies
-Hand soap for each sink
-Paper towels
-Tissues
-Extra towels and sheets
-Disposable gloves

  • Putt up ‘wash your hands’ signs and add some advice at the front of your guest information book so guests are reminded to keep hygiene front of mind.
  • You could also add an extra measure of reassurance by placing a message near the entrance to inform guests that the property has not been accessed since being deep cleaned.
  • Provide guests with departure instructions such as leaving the property clean and tidy on departure, loading the dishwasher, disposing of rubbish in an external bin and stripping beds.

Marketing your holiday let during the coronavirus crisis

Pricing

Holiday cottage booking sites are reporting record bookings for 2021. Don’t discount, hold your prices or increase them if demand is outstripping supply. This is your opportunity earn valuable income after the lockdown.

Solutions for larger rentals

To attract new bookings, some owners with large properties that usually cater for groups of 6+ are offering a discount for lower occupancy or reducing the size of the property (if possible) by closing areas off. This will also help reduce cleaning expenses plus wear and tear.

Decide on a rental rate similar to local competitors that sleep six, but it’s likely that your larger property has additional space and facilities compared to these – so factor that into your prices.

Consider a more relaxed cancellation policy

Plan for the end, it will come and people will have an appetite to travel once again. They will be naturally cautious and may hold off for a while before booking, especially international travel.  There’s likely to be a lot of demand once restrictions are lifted.

For future bookings outside of the lockdown period, holidaymakers will want to know what their cancellation options are. You should consider a more relaxed cancellation policy so that travellers feel secure booking a property that allows them to get a full refund, a credit or change their dates due to future coronavirus lockdowns.

Consider allowing last-minute cancellations for bookings between certain dates (July-August?) to reassure people that they can book, but change plans if required due to future lockdowns. Some listing sites (your competitors) are offering a free cancellation policy.

Loosening your cancellation policy may seem counter-intuitive since cancellations are precisely what you’re battling. However, wouldn’t you prefer to have a booking with the possibility of some cancellations rather than no booking it at all? Re-letting even at the very last minute is possible as demand for August and September is far greater than supply.

However, for guests who have previously changed the date of their booking due to lockdown, but want to amend again or cancel their booking, it’s likely that normal terms and conditions will apply.

New markets to target

Local tourists – staycations will no doubt be the first preference for holidays. People will want accommodation that they can drive to, avoiding airports, flying and getting stranded abroad. Here are some tips to attract domestic travellers.

Target families – if the rules of six allows, extended family holidays are becoming increasingly popular. How to create a family friendly holiday rental.

Welcome pets – a third of owners choose to take their four-legged friend away with them on holiday. Here are some tips for creating a dog-friendly cottage.

Promote midweek working breaks – create the ideal environment for those guests who are not tied to an office from Monday to Friday and can work remotely whilst on holiday. Provide fast Wi-Fi and a quiet workplace away from noisy distractions.

Late escapes – make sure you are ready to make the most of short-notice bookings made within a week before check-in.

Whether guests want to find a holiday cottage for a long weekend or they’re looking for an entire home for a month, reconsider your minimum/maximum stay policy and adapt to market demands. Here are more tips to attract different types of guests.

Promote the benefits of a holiday rental over a hotel

Historically, guests have chosen holiday rentals because of amenities like private kitchens and space. Now, more than ever, travellers may choose a holiday let over a hotel so they don’t have to congregate with both staff and other guests in high-traffic communal areas and have more control of their surroundings.

Share your enhanced cleaning regime

When you start taking bookings and guests start arriving again, it’s essential that you reassure them about your commitment to cleaning and disinfecting your holiday home.

It’s now more important than ever to maintain high standards of cleanliness at your holiday home.

Here are some tips on what property managers and cleaning staff should be doing:

  • Make sure your cleaning team focuses on high-traffic areas (kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms) and frequently used items (handles, switches, key safes), wiping down surfaces with a recommended cleaner.
  • Use disposable cloths or paper towels when possible, wash reusable cloths after use.
  • Disinfect kitchen brushes and sponges with detergent and warm water.
  • Provide your guests with ample disinfectant, cleaning supplies, hand sanitisers, soap, tissues, kitchen roll, clean towels and disposable gloves.
  • Encouraging guests to use hand sanitiser or wash their hands as they enter the property. You could also consider putting up more ‘wash your hands’ signs and add some information at the front of your guest information book to keep hygiene front of mind.
  • Minimise person-to-person contact during bookings to comply with social distancing rules. Offer contactless check-in and only undertaking essential maintenance during a guest stay.
  • Keep an eye on your guest reviews. Ideally, they will specifically mention cleanliness, since that is at the forefront of everyone’s minds right now. If you don’t see cleanliness getting a shoutout in your reviews, it may be time to talk to your cleaners. Ask them to list their procedure and make sure it lines up with the latest info from the sources above

Cut your expenses

One way to deal with the downturn in holiday letting business and cash-flow sparked by the coronavirus pandemic is to temporarily cut expenses at your holiday home for unused services or ask for a holiday on bills.

  • Consider cutting back on TV subscriptions such as Sky or Netflix. If you have a landline and internet in your holiday property, cut it or lower your tariff.
  • If you have a smart thermostat like Hive, control the heating remotely to save on your energy bills. Switch gas/electricity to the cheapest supplier.
  • Can you defer mortgage payments?
  • Defer tax payments.
  • Turn off appliances at the plug and drain the hot tub.
  • If you use the services of a gardener, can you reduce how often they come?

When it comes to reducing employee wages, some staff would willingly reduce their hours for the security of continued employment. Others might opt for unemployment. Ideally, you should focus on retaining the expertise of your best talent so when business picks up again -you are ready to get back up and running.

Get proactive

If you’re going to stay home for the next few weeks (or months?), use this time to analyse and improve your holiday letting business.

Here are several ideas:

  • If you live onsite next to your holiday home, use the time to carry out spring cleaning and any maintenance projects or interior upgrade plans.
  • Audit your (and your competitors) reviews and feedback from previous guests to find opportunities on how to improve your business.
  • There’s likely to be fewer international guests, therefore, it’s a good idea to target new markets such as domestic travellers, pet owners and families. Which listing sites or agencies specialise in these markets?
  • Improve your listing site descriptions and photos
  • Create or optimise your holiday rental website.
  • Re-evaluate your Property Management System (PMS) and Channel Manager.
  • Now is the perfect time to be creating a content calendar and publishing new blogs. Include details of your enhanced cleaning process to attract travellers who are using new search terms such as ‘clean holiday cottage in X‘.
  • Engage with your followers on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.
  • Look into how you can use video to market your property.
  • Some owners have switched to mid/long term lets until the pandemic is over. It’s a unique opportunity for people to go away for a month and still be able to work.
  • Keep updated with all the latest news on the short-term rental industry.
  • Take time to pause, reflect and implement new technology and services that will make your life as a property manager easier.

If you are looking for some ideas on how to do all of these and more – read our marketing tips.

Government financial support schemes

The next few months are likely to be challenging for businesses, especially those individuals and businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector. We are watching keenly to see how the government will respond and support businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector.

A full range of business support measures has been made available for small businesses to survive during the coronavirus crisis. As a holiday let owner you may be entitled to access support schemes, depending on your circumstances.

If your holiday let is registered for business rates (rather than council tax) and has a rateable value of £15,000 or under, you may be eligible for a grant of £10,000. If your business has a property that has a rateable value of over £15,000 but less than £51,000, you may be eligible for a grant of £25,000.

For holiday lets in Wales, the government’s new guidance states that three specific clauses need to be adhered to:

  • Self-catering accommodation produce two years of trading accounts to 31 March 2019
  • Self-catering accommodation must let the property for 140 days or more in the financial year 2019-20
  • Self-catering accommodation business must be the primary source of income for the owner (minimum threshold is 50%).

The government urged people not to misuse the support it is offering.

Contact your local council if you think you are eligible for a grant.

Further reading:
https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19
https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-the-coronavirus-local-authority-discretionary-grants-fund
https://www.mygov.scot/non-domestic-rates-coronavirus/
https://www.pkf-francisclark.co.uk/coronavirus/government-support-for-furnished-holiday-lets-covid-19/
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-announces-10-million-for-small-businesses-to-kickstart-tourism
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/20-million-in-new-grants-to-boost-recovery-of-small-businesses

Unprecedented times

While there’s nothing you can do to stop the coronavirus outbreak or its effect on the travel industry, hopefully, these tips can help during these very difficult times.

The safety of all our loved ones, friends and colleagues is what matters most. We encourage everyone to follow the Government’s advice so we can keep each other safe and healthy.

Stay positive. This will end and people will not stop needing a holiday.

Useful further reading:

Government Coronavirus advice
https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/hotels-and-other-guest-accommodation

Government travel advice
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus
https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Information for UK tourism businesses
https://www.visitbritain.org/covid-19-new-coronavirus-latest-information-and-advice-for-businesses
https://www.visitbritain.org/business-advice/advice-tourism-and-event-businesses-affected-covid-19

VisitScotland’s Coronavirus advice page
https://www.visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/advice/coronavirus
https://www.visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/advice/coronavirus-recovery/preparing-to-open/_index_

Scottish government guidance for the tourism and hospitality sector
https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-tourism-and-hospitality-sector-guidance/pages/overview/

Wales: Guidance for holiday accommodation owners
https://gov.wales/guidance-holiday-accommodation-owners-coronavirus

If you have a question that isn’t covered above, please let us know in the comments below.

46 Comments

  • Heather Lowe |

    Hi, Can I still travel to my property to check on its condition, security and make repairs?
    Thank you.

    • Philip |

      The government’s guidance is that people should avoid travelling unless it is essential and essential travel does not include visits to second homes. I would check with the local council. Do you have a cleaner or property manager local to the property who could check on it (and turn off the water) as part of their daily exercise?

  • Gordon Maclean |

    We have a holiday home and an adjacent self catering house . They are 150 miles from permanent address . How do we cover insurance requirements etc when we are not allowed to travel there to attend to them ?

    • Philip |

      Hi, See the advice above.

  • Michael Plant |

    My property is about 45 minutes drive from my home. The heating and hot water is run from an oil fired boiler. Under lock down I have not visited the property since 23rd march 2020 and I fear that my oil tank will run dry very shortly. The tank is locked and I have no-one who can visit the property locally – I care for the property entirely myself. If the heating fails the property will become damp and damage may occur to the boiler. In addition the water is not turned off. Under these unprecedented times what can I do, if anything, to deal with this problem. All I would need to do is check the boiler and unlock the oil tank. My oil supplier will then deliver oil without the need for me to be at the property. The property is in the centre of the Peak District.

  • Jo-Jo Carter-Jones |

    We have two holiday rental apartments in Los Alcázares, Spain. Despite having 60 days terms, we have given a full refund to all of our guests that were due to stay with us. Obviously this is having a huge financial impact on us business but we feel it would be morally wrong not to refund our guests.

    • Philip |

      Lovely gesture. ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you’

  • Mr K Bennett |

    We own a lodge on a holiday park. We have paid this years site rent, which runs from 1/3/20-15-1-21. As we haven’t been able to use our home in March/April/May and maybe longer. Are we entitled to expect a rent rebate?
    Regards
    K Bennett

  • Wendy |

    My holiday let in North Wales is attached to my home. I maintain the let and have a hot tub for guests that I also maintain myself I am nearing my 70s and I also have a husband in the vunerable group with lung problems. He only gets involved with guests if anything technical goes wrong. Tv heating etc My holiday home is let through a cottage company and I have instructed them not to take any new bookings although I still have some bookings from the end of July onwards. I am unsure how to proceed after the lock down is lifted this year due to my husbands health issues as I reckon this virus will be around for a long long time .

    • Philip |

      A ‘full service management’ agency who handle everything might be a solution?

  • Gerald Adamson-Eadie |

    My Wife and I have both been in lockdown since 23rd March, I am retired and my Wife works from home. My Wife has 30mins of exercise per day and is our main grocery shopper, I am on the the at risk list and have not been outside since this all began.

    We have a small flat in Dunoon (30miles from our primary home), with all this opening of McDonalds, Burger King and B &Q, can we drive the 30 miles to do a home check to make sure everything is ok and it has not been damaged in any way, We visited their every second weekend and spent our summer and winter holidays their. Surely driving by car, entering the house to turn off water and gas now is not harming anyone as we wont be coming into contact with anyone, we will not be staying over just checking everything is ok.

    • Philip |

      The Government has said: staying overnight at a location other than the place you live “for a holiday or other purpose is not allowed”. This includes visiting second homes. Visiting but not staying overnight – a bit of a grey area. I expect there will be more advice on this over the coming days from various counties.

  • Barbara |

    Hi,

    I bought a property by the sea which I’ve been working on & setting up as a holiday let business since Jan. I signed up with a local holiday letting agent, who has been guiding me in the preparation of the property & working with me in photographing & advertising for this summer’s launch. I have my first bookings in July.

    However the work I had planned on doing in my Easter Holidays & weekends I have not been able to do, due to lockdown. I am a teacher currently teaching from home in Lockdown 200 miles away from the business address. Before lockdown I had worked on the property some weekends & holidays since Jan.

    As a teacher I’ve neen tested for covid19 & am covid NEGATIVE & am looking forward to returning to school on 1st June, after helf term.

    This will mean that the coming half term holiday is the last chance I’ll have to make any real progress with thd decotation & tweaking of window latches left to do.

    As Boris has asked us to use our common sense, am I not at liberty to undergo necessary works to my holiday let business, during the coming half term break, before schools start opening, as I will have the time, so that this ‘work’, my other job, is complete & my business can honour bookings in July? (Assuming holidays are allowed in July)

    I pose no risk to the area and will bring income by bringing traid to the local community once tourism starts.

    Your response would be appreciated.

    • Philip |

      You would have to check with the local council about a day visit but the advice about staying over is clear: Staying overnight at a location other than the place you live “for a holiday or other purpose is not allowed” – this includes visiting second homes. Those who break the rules face a potential backlash from locals: Family flee North Wales holiday home after police are called over fears for their safety

  • Mike Shipton |

    My T&Cs have the following clause, where does this leave me?

    NON AVAILABILITY OF PROPERTY If for any reason, beyond the Owners’ or Agents’ control (e.g. fire damage) the property is not available on the date booked, all rental charges paid in advance by the applicants will be refunded in full, but the applicants shall have no further claim against the Owner or Agents. The Agents will, however, endeavour to offer alternative accommodation if possible, but in the event of them being unable to do so the liability under all circumstances shall be limited to the refund of monies paid in advance.

  • Ruth Gibbins |

    Hi, we have a holiday cottage on our farm and it has a hot tub for the exclusive use of guests. Can you advise us if it will be safe to keep it in operation for guests to use?
    I am self isolating at the moment, but we have a booking at the end ofJuly – if the tub is in operation during this visit I have to open it and test the water daily -I am wondering if this is possible – all surfaces will have to be decontaminated before I can test the water – or should I turn the tub off and say it’s not to be used during their stay?

  • Carola |

    Hi. my husband and I have a holiday cottage that is managed by a company. We have had cancellations and we have refunded all. We potentially would be fully booked through until at least october…judging by the previous years.. so we are making a huge loss right now. How do we seek some form of compensation for our loss of income of which we rely on as we are retired. This is not a business , it is our pension fund. Does anyone know what we need to do as there are so many confusing Gov links that we dont understand. many thanks

    • Philip |

      Are you eligible for the Government grant? see Government help section above.

  • Rose |

    I own a self catering property in Wales, where it is likely that the restrictions will be lifted later than in England.

    The house sleeps 8 and so many of the summer holiday bookings are two families or multigenerational family groups who don’t normally live together.

    Is it likely that holidays will be allowed but only with one family (as I’ve read for restaurant bookings) and therefore where does that leave my cancellation requests as the clients may not wish to travel as they are not all allowed to in their planned group?

    So far I have refunded and or moved all bookings but things are getting ‘tight’ and I’m not sure that the new situation would mean to both sides.

    Thank you, your advice would be most welcome.

    • Philip |

      The government has confirmed an “ambition” to open some hospitality businesses, (including accommodation?) from 4 July if its five tests for controlling the spread of Covid-19 are being met. I would wait for clarification.

  • Bruce Forbes |

    Please can someone tell me if a brief day visit to a holiday home is permissible for the purpose of collecting the mail, checking for damage or leaks, reading the meters, resetting the thermostat and using our toilet. All this could be done in less than an hour and we could return to our main home the same day without coming near anyone else.

    We are however permitted to drive there, walk past our front door, to a crowded beach, use public toilets if they are open and go to a hut that has less than 2 m from the neighbouring one.

    Come on! Where is the thinking on this restriction or is it left to our common sense to decide if it is legal or do we need a four year old with us?

  • Caroline |

    A lot is being written about what owners need to do to their properties to make them safe for future guests, but what about measures we can ask guests to ensure they adhere to in order to reduce the risk to cleaners, owners and follow on guests? I believe that all parties need to work together on this to ensure to make it safe for everyone, not just guests. I think guests should agree to not arriving if they have a temperature, feel unwell or display any symptoms of the virus, ensuring they keep the property clean and sanitized, double bag and dispose of any rubbish they create in a responsible manner, etc.
    Also what will happen if a guest falls ill or finds they are required to self isolate whilst on holiday and therefore can not vacate the property when they should? Would we be paid for the extra stay and what would happen to the holiday of any incoming guests?
    All owners know that guests write reviews which are not always true, I am worried that we could be accused of giving someone the virus – just imagine the reviews we would receive on that subject and what damage that would do for future bookings!!
    I am considering having a full empty week between the end of one booking and the start of another, as I believe that is probably the only really safe way to continue, ie. leave the property empty when guests leave for at least 72 hours before cleaning, either that or just closing for the meantime which will be a lot less stressful.
    There is a lot more to all this than the holiday companies have thought about but whatever no doubt it will be the poor owner who, as usual, picks up the bill for all this!
    Incidentally, I have asked all the above to the holiday company I use for all my holiday properties but unsurprisingly, as of yet there has been no reply. Sadly I suspect they just want the bookings whatever and they are not quite as interested in protecting property owners or their staff.

    • Philip |

      Hi, you raise some interesting points which hopefully the article addresses.

  • Jane Cowan |

    I read all the above comments with great interest as my work is renting a cottage 2 hrs drive from my home. I have guests booked in on 4 July and have essential maintenance/adjustments to make to ensure a Covid Secure re-opening on that date. I don’t have a property company or any staff available to do the job. Obviously staying overnight, although that would be incredibly useful and would avoid journeys back and forth, is not possible but I do not see how I am expected to prepare for the recommencement of my work if I am not allowed to visit an empty property for the day. As travel is not restricted now and many employers are preparing their places of work, this seems entirely illogical and unfair.

  • Karen |

    I agree with Jane, we have decking that needs jet washing and gardening to be done as well as checking boilers etc, seems strange that properties can be booked out from the 4th but we aren’t able to do maintenance before that date, subsequently I’ve booked out the week beginning 4th to do the work hopefully, new hotel staff presumably Are helping get hotels ready for opening, what is the difference?

  • Rachel Brazendale |

    We own a large holiday cottage which is usually booked by extended families. What are the rules around this – we have a booking in July for example where three parts of a family from different addresses are due to stay but under current rues this would not be allowed, event hough our cottage will be open for business.

    • Philip |

      I understand the rules regarding multiple families are being lobbied against. Updates to follow…

  • Frances |

    What’s the problem with an overnight stay for a maintenance visit? How else are you to prepare for guests’ arrivals?
    Given the current conflicting, inconsistent government advice, it seems that folk are just doing whatever they want anyway. Besides, how is an overnight maintenance visit going to endanger anyone? You’re likely to be spending the whole time working away inside and around the property, not infecting anyone. If a stay away from home has been endorsed as “legal” for a government adviser – what’s to stop others from following his example?
    If our leaders are confused about “advice and guidelines” – what do they expect from others? Or are we still adopting a “double standards” approach?
    Maintenance visit overnight? Why not?

  • Carol Liuzzi |

    I would like to go to a large holiday cottage in England with my husband, my son and daughter and their partners and children – ten people in all. Is this allowed?

    Many thanks.

    • Philip |

      Multiple family holidays in holiday cottages are restricted to just two households.

  • Alison |

    Holiday lets are able to open from 4 July in Uk. We have a booking starting 3 July. Can they come one day early?
    Also, if we have guests from multiple households, do we have to cancel?
    Thanks

    • Philip |

      We have a booking starting 3 July. Can they come one day early?
      Apparently not – maybe give a pro-rate refund for the 3rd?
      Multiple family holidays in holiday cottages are restricted to just two households

  • JulieG |

    I am fully booked for next few months, with recent back to back short stay bookings. My cleaners have just told me that govt. rules mean 3 days must be left after any nhs workers visit. I am in a difficult position as I did not know this when accepted bookings and have not asked professions, and can’t have space unless cancel some. We have a very enhanced cleaning protocol. Is it a true requirement to leave this gap or misinterpretation? I can’t find it on guidelines and don’t want to cancel those that most need a holiday. I fear it is discrimination.

    • Philip |

      There is no requirement to leave a property empty. Property owners or managers will have to make a professional judgement on booking buffers depending on their cleaning and sanitisation strategy.

  • Sue Bray |

    I have a one bedroom self contained flat used for holiday accommodation for two people. Is there any guidelines to follow re soft furnishings,pillows, bedding general cleaning etc I have all bookings cancelled until August as my guests are normally in the at risk age range but from August I have changeover the same day. I have decided to change arrival time to give myself longer to clean but again I need guidance re cleaning/removal of items, books, throws, cushions etc

  • Anne Gee |

    Hi we have always welcomed guests in person to hand over keys etc wherever possible. We realise that leaving a key in a key safe may be more acceptable with regard to social distancing etc. Will your policy still cover the property if we use an external key safe?

    • Philip |

      A key safe endorsement may be applied – please contact us if you require further advise.

  • Elaine McCreadie |

    Have a cottage under a company. It is 15 miles from where I live, out on a farm, very safe for my family. It is an old property, beams on the ceilings, and nooks and crannies.
    The last booking I got from them was 15th Feb. I have three more bookings that could be cancelled, end of July, Oct, and Christmas. They are asking for £2,500 to come out of those bookings.
    In the meantime, from June, I have given the house to a key worker, for costs only, who lives in the village, but due to his dad being ill, he cannot live with his mum and dad. But at least they are in the same village.
    Can I get out of the fees the holiday company want to charge me, due to the lack of bookings, and trying to help local folk, kindest regards Elaine.

    • Philip |

      What does you contract say?

  • Julie Borrell |

    9 friends from different households have booked a lodge 6 bedrooms , sept booking made before march is this allowed sept 24th 2020

    • Philip |

      Where are they staying? (England/Wales/Scotland) as the rules differ and may change before 24th September.

  • Allison |

    Would our insurance be compromised in any way if we accepted guests who were travelling against govt advice – not an actual travel ban but an advisory against travel to Great Britain. I know their own holiday insurance would be invalidated by doing this but would we still be covered by our business insurance if something happened to them at our property when they maybe shouldn’t have been staying with us in the first place?

    • Philip |

      As all insurance policy terms and conditions are different, that’s something you would have to ask your insurer.

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