With the rise of ‘staycations’, quality and luxury are now the buzzwords for people looking for boutique holiday accommodation in the UK. Natasha Root, Private Client Insurance Executive looks at Wolsey Lodges, a membership group for some of the UKs finest lodgings and highlights some of the key things you should consider before opening your home to paying guests.
The name Wolsey Lodges (and indeed the logo) reflects Cardinal Wolsey, Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor. As Wolsey toured the country he expected and received generous hospitality from the owners of the fine houses he visited, and it is this level of quality and service Wolsey Lodges aim to offer their guests today. To be listed as a Wolsey Lodge the accommodation must be a private home where location, character and high standards of accommodation are a given. A non-profit making organisation, Wolsey Lodges was founded in 1981 with just thirteen homes, but now has more than 90 members across the UK. People who visit our lodges have high expectations so we have our own independent inspectors who visit members and new applicants to ensure they continue to offer everything our guests expect.
As the official insurance partner for Wolsey Lodges, we see a range of properties which need insurance cover for paying guests. Here are my some of my top tips for anyone considering taking in paying guests for the first time.
Do your research and remember that you are taking on a commitment which needs to be carefully considered within the context of your own circumstances and lifestyle.
Do your research.
Get to know the potential market for your area, for example is trade seasonal? Some parts of the country have properties that are busy all year round, while others have hectic summer seasons but quieter winters.
Notify your lender.
If your house is mortgaged and you fail to inform your lender you could be committing mortgage fraud and your lender could call in the loan for unauthorised letting.
Ensure that you present your home in the best possible way on websites and printed material. Take photographs in good light and on a sunny day; potential guests will expect to see pictures of the bedrooms and bathrooms plus at least one of your general living space and an exterior shot. You only have a few seconds to get their attention, so it may be worth considering investing in some professional photography. Remember, you should write any accompanying text from the point of view of your ideal customer.
Familiarise yourself with the rules and regulations.
There are numerous licenses, certificates and legislation which need to be complied with before you can open your house to guests. These include gas safety certificates, food standards and hygiene rules, fire safety laws, first aid and smoke-free legislation plus licenses for TV, music (If recorded music is played in a public place and you have more than 3 rooms) and alcohol – although this last is probably not applicable if you are offering only breakfast and not dinner!
Get a good professional adviser
Who can advise you on how to structure your business arrangements. You will need to consider VAT and tax on your earnings and salaries of any staff you employ, even if it’s just for a few hours a week.
Finally, it is important to remember that, taking in paying guests is not the same as having house guests. Inviting people into your home can present a number of risks which you will need to ensure that you have the right insurance to cover.
Using your home for short-letting or bed and breakfast accommodation invalidates your home insurance if you have just a standard home policy. It is important to speak to your insurance broker before you open your doors to guests. A good broker will have access to a specially-selected panel of insurers who can offer specific insurance policies for luxury B&Bs and holiday accommodation and which will cover you for the type of risks you could face when opening up your home to paying guests.
If you are considering running a B&B from your home or would like to find out more about Wolsey Lodges visit www.wolseylodges.com