Potential Pitfalls with holiday rental by owner

Potential problems with holiday rentals and how to resolve them

So you though the hard work was winning bookings for your holiday home ? While renting out your holiday villa or apartments is a great way to earn additional income,  you are bound to come across certain challenges now and then. Courtney Wylie, Managing Director for Holiday-Rentals.co.uk said recently,

“To maximise bookings, it is essential you treat it like a business. Holidays are an emotional purchase, so providing good customer service and efficiently dealing with problems are integral to success.”

Pitfalls before arrival

Potential Problem:
Late payment of deposits or balances, and cancellations.


  • Make your payment terms clear, including cancellation and refund policies. Send through with booking confirmation and rental terms and conditions.
  • A common policy: deposit is non-refundable and a decreasing proportion of full balance is refundable the closer it gets to the holiday. All major tour operators do this.
  • Late payment of deposit: send a few friendly reminders, then a final notice saying if you do not receive payment by day/date, the booking will be cancelled.
  • Late payment of balance: As above, plus a reminder that deposit is non-refundable.
  • In both cases, telephone first. However, always follow up with written confirmation.

Pitfalls during the stay

Potential Problem:
Renters lock themselves out / lose the key.
Plan ahead of time for this and make sure you have a procedure.

  • Firstly, using a keyless lock with a code will avoid this problem altogether!
  • Be sure all fees associated with lost/misplaced keys are clearly marked in your Ts&Cs.
  • Distribute as many spare keys as possible to trustworthy people; housekeeper, property manager, complex manager etc…
  • ‘Hide-a-key’ somewhere; but somewhere VERY well hidden! Or, use a secure key lock-box such as the portable GE KeySafe™ .

Potential Problem:
Something goes wrong at the property during the renters’ stay.

  • If you can’t quickly remedy problems at your property, guests will most likely go away with a poor impression and you will not enjoy repeat business.
  • Be prepared! Make sure you’ve got plenty of emergency contact details for (reliable!) any type of service provider you may need.
  • A good strategy for ‘problem resolution’ is the ‘Three Rs’ from Robert Grede: Recognition, Remedy and Reinforcement:
  • Recognition: first, apologise and assure them you are springing to action.
  • Remedy: solve all problems as quickly as possible, even minor ones. Keep guests informed of progress.
  • Reinforcement: once the problem’s fixed, acknowledge the inconvenience again with an appropriate gesture, such as a part refund or discount.
  • Thirdly, have details of alternative accommodation nearby.

Potential Problem:
Renters behaving badly!
Hopefully you will rarely encounter this, but…

  • Prevention is better than cure! Talk to all guests beforehand to find out more about them, and the reason for the trip.
  • Ensure ‘unacceptable’ forms of behaviour and subsequent consequences are detailed in your Ts&Cs and/or rental rules.

Potential Problem:
Renters damage something, or things appear to be missing.
The odd cup breakage is inevitable, but make sure you’re covered for other damages by;

  • Asking for a refundable deposit of £100-£500 (or a proportionate amount for your property size/value) before handing over keys.
  • Make it clear in Ts&Cs that all damages/losses must be paid for in full.
  • Make a full inspection of the property before and after departure. Keep a written, signed and dated note of the outcome.
  • Keep ALL receipts for replacement items or work done to repair damages.

Also don’t forget home insurance:

Get sufficient insurance to cover your property and liabilities. A good company to consult is Intasure, a holiday and second home insurance specialist.


As ever it would be great to hear from anyone about problems they have encountered when renting out property – and any solutions / precautions you can recommend. Please leave a comment or contact us.

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