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Ivy's Founder Guy van der Westhuizen's Tips for a Renting Your Home

18 Sep 13
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Ivy's Founder Guy van der Westhuizen's Tips for a Renting Your Home

18 Sep 13

 

Four years ago, time-rich but cash-poor, I wanted to rent out my Shepherd's Bush home to finance a trip abroad. I searched the Internet for answers but found none. From this disappointing experience was born my London short lets agency, Ivy Lettings. I persuaded all my friends to hand me their keys when they planned to go on holiday so I could let them out to tourists. Their very simple questions were all met with my confident "don't worry"s and "I'll take care of that"s. I knew that to earn my commission and add value I'd have to do the grunt work and make good my promise to remove the hassle of preparing a home for a holiday let. Like most entrepreneurs - I like to think at least - I was winging it. Learning on the job. I'd been a lawyer and a banker, not an estate agent or a cleaner. How hard could it be? Four years and 2,500 lets later, I know full well. Speaking both as an agent and a letting owner (I tasted my own medicine letting out my family's home this summer through Ivy for 4 separate lets) here's my experience and advice:

What's it like to rent out your home?

Mas Stairs

Letting out your home for holiday lets (AKA in US as "vacation rentals") is less and more stressful than you think. Let me explain: 

-       less stressful because you really don't need to "move out" in the traditional sense of boxing up your life and keeping it in storage or at your long-suffering parents' place. Your incoming guests know that they are moving into somebody's home – this, along with the savings, is the main reason they aren't staying in a hotel - so they expect to see a certain amount of your "things" (except if you are pathological hoarder or have recently downsized from Highclere Castle to a Chelsea studio). They are moving in for a holiday with a few suitcases, so generally you only need to make a few suitcases worth of space available.

- It's more stressful because your home - if it's anything like mine - needs to be brought up to standard. I'm not talking about installing hot tubs or turning your baby's nursery into a media room, but sorting out all those niggles that you have trained yourself to ignore over the past decades and which might irritate (or when taken all together, infuriate) your guest. If you're a married man, this will be the DIY list that your wife has been hassling you to get on with since Christmas 2008. Here was my list this summer:

4

As your wife has been really helpfully reminding you, these things only take a couple of hours when you put your mind to it (or better still - 1.25 hours of thehandysquad.com's time when she's not in - strong recommendation). The stressful part here is leaving it to the last minute. My advice here would therefore be:

General Guidance

Your guests' happiness aside, you will feel an unexpectedly deep sense of personal satisfaction, catharsis and spousal peace at sorting out these domestic niggles for your own benefit. And, whilst there are no prizes for functioning doors and descaled shower heads, it's the little things which, taken together, will tip an otherwise very happy tenant into a nasty reviewer, no matter how literally-8-seconds-to-South-Ken-tube your location or Designer's Guild your sofa is. Sweat the small stuff here.

‘De-personalising’

As mentioned, guests are expecting to move into a home. But there's a balance to strike between "homey" and "way too much information". As agents we always advise on how to strike the balance and it always starts with de-cluttering where necessary and asking owners to pay particular attention to bathrooms and kitchens.

Personal Items

Notices and Tenant Information

Give your guests information on how everything works (internet first and foremost), and the local area.

Keys

Give your tenants at least two sets.

Bed Linen and Towels

This is not an exhaustive list but some main considerations. Every home is different. When we take on your home, we comprehensively guide you through each step. 

So how was it for me?

It was, quite frankly, brilliant. 

Am I bound to say it was frankly brilliant? Well, yes I am. But it's still true...

So where do things go wrong?

For us, the one bad part was the night before we left. Holiday packing with 3 under 5s is stressful enough and no timely house prep could mitigate that. Mary and I were up till 1am (with alarm set for 6am). As we piled into the car the next morning to race off to Gatwick, it didn't help discovering I had a flat tyre!

The main fear and barrier for owners is the prospect of damage. A trashed house is the nightmare scenario. Here it all comes down to getting the right tenants and we're proud to say that all of our 2,500 families, couples and solo travellers accommodated to date have all been right in this regard, thanks to our vetting process. The worst we've had was wine spilled on a carpet which had to be replaced, and recently an expensively chipped slate table. Telling guests they have lost their security deposit is a horrid conversation to have, especially since you've worked hard to please them and the damage is never malicious. But that's our job...

Further reading

Luxury Collection

Collection

Welcome to some of London's most elegant and luxurious holiday homes.  These exquisite luxury vacation rentals exude unique charm and promise absolute comfort. Your luxury oasis awaits...

Battersea, Clapham & Putney
If you’re seeking quiet seclusion with a generous helping of charm, our vacation rentals in Battersea, Clapham and Putney offer a delightful neighbourhood feel.…

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