This section is for Edinburgh holiday apartment owners and landlords who are, or are considering using their properties as self catering/ holiday lets. The landlord information section for Self Catering properties will help you understand how to:

  • Define self catering holiday/short term lets and explain who uses them
  • Outline the key difference between self catering holiday/ short term letting and longer term letting
  • Explain what you should consider when deciding whether to let your property short term
  • Describe how to prepare your property for holiday/ short term letting
  • Provide a sample inventory to assist with equipping a property for self catering holiday lets

What is a Self Catering Holiday Property

Let’s start the discussion with what exactly is a ‘Holiday Let / Self Catering’ Property.

A holiday let/ self catering property is sometimes described as a ‘furnished holiday letting’ – a term referred to by HM Revenue and Customs. These are properties let for periods of anything from days to weeks rather than the more common minimum 6 month letting done for normal buy-to-lets. The HM Revenue and Customs definition is important because they treat these properties as a business rather than as an investment which means there are currently important tax advantages over longer term lets. The tax treatment of holiday lets is different to the tax treatment of longer term lets just now BUT it has been announced that the different treatment will stop. Details of the changes have yet to be provided.

The definition of a Holiday Let/ Self Catering Property (as defined from the 2005-2006 tax year when the definition was updated) is:

  • available for holiday letting to the public on a commercial basis for 140 days or more, and
  • let commercially for 70 days or more, and
  • let for periods of longer-term occupation (more than 31 consecutive days) for not more than 155 days during the year.

(Please note that this information is written to the best of our knowledge. Please use your accountant to follow the most up to date tax advice).

Whilst the government’s definition talks about holiday letting, many of the people who use self catering/short term lets are visitors who are on business, attending conferences, undertaking courses etc. ‘Edinburgh Flats Partnership’ marketing targets these people as well as the tradition Edinburgh holiday maker. We approach colleges and universities, theatres, conference organisers and companies and provide them with links to our website.

What are the key differences between self catering short term and longer term let properties

Short Term Longer Term
Income More and less regular. You can charge more for high season Less, but once let is usually regular
Expenses More – the owner pays for utilities, council tax (but see preparation), TV license, Wifi, etc. Less – the tenant will pay for utilities , council tax, TV License, etc
Occupancy Less – you are likely to have periods with no-one staying More – Once let, you usually have a 6 month contract
Furnishing and Equipment More – you usually provide TV, DVD players and internet access as well as bed linen, towels, etc Less – the tenant will normally provide their own services and linen
Effort More – the property will need cleaning and laundry doing after each changeover. Each new tenant/guest will need to be provided with keys Less – once the tenant is in , there is not usually much support required
Risk of damage to property or non-payment Less. People staying for short periods don’t usually have parties, move furniture around and damage walls. Frequent changeovers mean minor maintenance is addressed regularly. Non-payment is rare as payment is usually taken before people stay in the property More. People staying in a property that is their main home will make changes, hold parties and treat your property with less respect than a guest staying for a short period. There is a risk that people stop paying monthly rent. In which case, it can take some time to evict them
Bureaucracy Less. Properties are let against terms and conditions and people staying do not have tenant’s rights. HMO regulations do not apply. More. You need a lease and your tenants have many more rights that people staying in holiday let properties.
Flexibility More – if you want to use your property for some of the time, you simply book it out and use it! Less – Once let, you cannot take over (or even visit) your property for you own use within the period of the lease.

In summary, whilst the set-up costs for short term let are greater than a long term rental because more equipment is provided and the owner pays for more running costs than with a longer term let, the income can be more as well. There can be significant financial advantages in short term lets over longer term lets but only if the occupancy is high enough for the higher income to cover the extra costs, and it is appreciably more work to market and manage the property.

Remember that choosing to let your property as a Holiday Let allows you the flexibility to have the property for yourself from time to time. If you don’t live in the area where you own the property, you may choose to book out the property for you own personal use. If you let out your property as a ‘long term’ let, then you will not have this flexibility. Also the services such as the utilities, wifi and TV will not be set up for occasional use.

You should also note that currently there is less bureaucracy and risk of damage to your property with a short term let (rather than with a longer term let). This is probably because of a combination of:

  • The owner or manager of the property being at the property frequently to do changeovers means simple maintenance is being done continually
  • Whilst people often ask to have facilities such as a washing machine, they don’t often use them
  • People staying for a short period don’t normally re-arrange furniture or attach thing to walls
  • Short term let properties are usually let with terms and conditions rather than a lease. In long term lets, the tenant is empowered with many rights over your property, their terms and conditions should be drafted to ensure this does not happen in short term lets.
  • The visitor pays a deposit (normally between 10%-15% of the total rent) to reserve the property and then pays the full amount of the rent between 4 and 8 weeks in advance of their visit. This means the risk of non-payment of rent is low.

Preparation for Holiday Rentals or Short Term Letting

There are a number of steps you need to undertake when allowing your property to be used by paying guests. How to prepare my self catering property preparation to give you a guideline on how to set up your property before the first guests arrive.

Should I consider letting my property as a self catering holiday property

Should you consider letting your property for Self Catering. Here is a short list to consider if you want to use your property for Self Catering: Self Catering Factors to consider

Edinburgh-flats.comwebsite what do we offer

Edinburgh property advertising on our well designed site

  • Facilities for owners to load details and photographs of their property easily. (There are examples and templates to help.)
  • Allows the landlord the control to change prices, holiday dates, photos, etc. With our system you get a landlord login, where the landlord can control the changes.
  • Has been built using search engine optimization techniques meaning we maximize the hits for people looking for self catering apartments and holiday accommodation in the cities where we set-up.
  • Has links with other related sites so that people interested in coming to can access and find the site easily
  • Provides an availability calendar so that you can update your bookings. This avoids lots of enquiries for periods when you are booked and potential visitors can see what is available. Alternatively, we can do this for you as part of our booking and invoicing service

There are no set-up costs to advertise on our site. We take a payment when you get a booking. Via our online booking facility, when a booking is made, there is 12% charge of the booking fee. That is how we take our fee. This minimises your risk of fees on various advertising sites.