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3 smart ways to use your property this summer

An expert guide

Ever thought of becoming a short-term let host or doing a home swap? Consider the options with our useful guide.

Important considerations

Before you let out or share your home, an important first step is to talk to your mortgage lender and home insurance provider.

Typically, borrowers aren’t allowed to do activities that would invalidate their home insurance. With a Barclays mortgage, you can only short let if you have a valid Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) in place for at least 6 months. Our mortgage borrowers would also need to get written consent before sharing their property – and if home swapping was an exclusion under your policy terms and conditions, it wouldn’t be permitted either.

Always inform your home insurance provider if you’re considering sharing or letting out your property. Call your insurance provider to clarify what your policy terms are, and if they need to be updated in light of your plans. Policy terms can be changed on a case-by-case basis.

Any money you earn from hiring out your home or sub-letting your holiday property will be subject to tax. Depending on the amount you earn from hiring or hosting, it may need to be declared to HM Revenue & Customs. A new property allowance has been introduced for homeowners, allowing a tax exemption of £1,000 a year for individuals with income from land or property. Find out more here.

1. Do a property swap

If you want to experience a new way of holidaying, consider a home swap. Typically, no money is exchanged and you can simply swap your main home or holiday home with property owners anywhere in the world. You could end up staying in a unique space like a castle, or a luxury property in the destination of your choice. Take a look at some of the homes listed on Love Home Swap or Luxury Home Exchange, and become a member to take part.

What to expect

A home swap usually involves swapping your property with another homeowner on the same dates. Although there’s no cost associated with swapping, you might need to pay subscription fees to be listed. The benefits include holidaying with a difference, says Love Home Swap’s Managing Director Ben Wosskow. “You’ll experience a new area through the eyes of a local and save on the cost of accommodation when you’re on holiday,” he says.

Getting your home ready

What would you expect to find in the home you’re going to? A welcome pack, perhaps? Or freshly-laundered towels? You’ll need to ensure your own property meets the same standards. As your possessions will be on show, it might pay to keep an inventory and consider storing any valuables in a locked room. Your agency will be able to give you further advice. If you have a monitored home security alarm, it’s worth considering an electronic key fob, says Lee Jasper, spokesperson at security experts ADT. “It’s bad practice to share alarm codes, and fobs can’t be copied,” he says. “Additionally, if you have a smart home system you can set it so you’re alerted every time it’s used.”

Plus, if you’re going to home swap abroad, don’t forget to take out adequate travel insurance.

2. Short let your holiday home

Whether you already rent out your holiday home when you’re not there, or are considering it for the first time, there are several areas to think about. A flexible solution for busy holiday homeowners is short-term letting, where you let out your entire property for a cost per night. As a host, you’re in control of what dates you make available – but it’s worth being aware of your local authority’s limits. In Greater London, for example, you can only short let an entire property for up to 90 days each year. Remember that bookings aren’t guaranteed, and can often be seasonal according to peak holiday periods.

What to expect

Managing your account, responding to guests and preparing your property can take time. If you want to reduce admin, consider a management company such as Airsorted, which manages properties registered with several sites. Airsorted CEO James Jenkins Yates says, “Many of our hosts let their properties while they’re travelling, so we’re used to taking care of everything while they’re away.” Setting your property’s fee will depend on several factors: location, seasonality and the number of rooms available. There’s usually no fee for listing your property on short-term letting sites but, for every completed booking, you may be charged a percentage of the total reservation.

Getting your property ready

It’s important to remember that, as a host, you’ll be rated on the quality of the stay and the feedback is made public on your profile. Host Stephanie, who lets out two properties in the Cotswolds, goes the extra mile to make sure her properties are well-received. “To assist guests, I provide a folder of details about the local area, a selection of miniature toiletries, basic cooking ingredients and fuel for the barbecue so they feel at home,” she says. You may also want to inform your neighbours, so they know that other people will be accessing the property. Be aware that anti-social behaviour and damage can occur, but all guests need to show proof of ID, such as their passport, to register on short let sites. Most short-term letting services have an insurance policy – but it’s worth finding out the specific details of whichever company you choose to go with.

3. Become a location home

Fancy making your home famous? Films, television programmes and photoshoots are often shot at location homes. These are private properties whose owners hire them out for a fee. To get started, you’ll need to register with a location agency such as Location Works or Lavish Locations who will take a percentage of your earnings. Your property will be hired because of its aesthetic or be a backdrop for a crew to furnish, so it’s crucial any images that appear online are accurate.

What to expect

Hiring your home out as a location can take a fair amount of logistical planning. If a company is interested, they’ll come over for a site visit – and there may be several before the shoot date – but this should be managed by an agency. Most shoots last for just a day. A small crew may require access to your kitchen, or a large crew may bring an external catering van with them. Depending on your home and how it’s used, you could receive from £500 to £2,500 for an ordinary property, or more if you own a larger mansion-style home. An agency can organise most of the logistics, says Location Works’ Managing Director Lorna Gatherer Ford. “Some homeowners prefer to be present when a shoot takes place but, if you do, you may be restricted from accessing certain rooms,” she says. “If you’re away, the agency may arrange for security staff to stay overnight.”

Getting your home ready

Professional photography showing all aspects of your home is essential as this will be used to ‘sell’ your property. You’ll also need to check you have the relevant permissions. Parking, for example, may prove an issue as filming often requires a number of vehicles which may obstruct your road, so make sure you check with your local authority.

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