Short lets in Oxford - Registration , Business Rates , Planning Permission.
The Oxford City Council have made it very clear that legally short stay properties should be registered for Business Rates opposed to Council Tax. & they call on the government to create a new planning class for short let properties,...well their wishes seem very likely to become law in 2024:
The Government's Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill currently going through parliament now includes an intention to make it a legal requirement to;
- Short / holiday lets should register for Business Rates
- Short / holiday lets must gain planning permission ( unless your local council opt out )
- Short/ holiday lets will need to be accepted onto a newly set up - short stay registration scheme.
Will your short let property meet the new legal requirements ?
- Is your short let property registered for Business Rates ?
- Will your property meet the requirements of a Short Let Registration Scheme ?
- If legally your property is not a registered short let then you will need to obtain a Selective License from the council to operate a rental property.
- If your property is a leasehold apartment have you obtained permission to operate a short let from the Freeholder / Management Company ?
- Have you obtained permission from you mortgage lender to operate a short let ?
- Have you organised specialist insurance for your short let ?
- Have you been advised not to accept occupiers on a holiday let agreement who have no main principle home elsewhere ( those between house moves etc) this could cause problems in you regaining possession of your property ?
It may now be time for some short let landlords to get in front of the game and consider offering a flexi-let rental. This is where a landlord is operating with a specialist type of break clause Tenancy Agreement which will be automatically permitted for most buy to let situations, landlords are simply offering a tenancy on flexible terms.
- Flexi -let tenancies can help you run your short let property without the need to gain planning permission or Business Rates.
- Landlords can make the pattern of occupation work for them by accepting both longer stays and holiday lets so earning a higher rent overall, remember a longer flexi let may not need weekly cleaning and laundry, providing a large saving to landlords.
Our Rightmove advertising plus specialised flexi letting tenancy service keeps you on the right side of regulation but still allows you to achieve higher short let rents. Our flexi let service is designed as an added advertising and letting tool to self manage airbnb landlords or serviced property companies looking to increase their letting capacity.
See also our booking service for holiday homes in the Cotswolds.
Email us for more info
What about arranging for change over cleaning & repairs ?
Contact Compass Clean , a large and well established cleaning and property services company based in Oxford. Compass Clean offers services to landlords , developers and serviced apartment operators with properties in the Oxford city centre, North Oxford and nearby villages. With over 15 years experience we are the right people to be looking after your airbnb short stay lets, keeping standards high for your guests, automatically replenishing soaps & toiletries and providing fresh clean towels and bed linen. We can keep a close eye on your property as we are there at your short stay property on a regular basis. We feel we can offer the ideal service for short let apartments, houses or village holiday let.
How does it work ?
Landlord Direct is not an automated booking system we are real people running a very busy letting service, just like a traditional short stay / holiday let company. We are here to assist short stay property owners with all aspects of their letting.
Landlord Direct have the perfect availability, booking and payment service designed to dramatically reduce the cost of letting your holiday home / short stay serviced property.
Advertising & channel management of your short let
We will list your property on powerful Online Travel Agents , now household brand names. We will utilise these commission bearing marketing websites & build in the advertising commissions into the tariffs charged to the guests.
We channel manage all the different Online Travel Agents from our master ical calendar that links to the OTA’s preventing double bookings. ( we can link to our client’s own ical booking calendar systems if required).
We set the intricate pricing required for your property, to take account of seasonal pricing, short stay pricing, and late availability if required. This pricing is agreed with you then entered on each O.T.A. system and managed & updated as required.
We also advertise your property on Rightmove to attract longer flexi-let stays.
Direct booking webpage for your property
We create a webpage for your property on our website landlorddirect.com, which is optimised for google searches relating to the locality of your property, its benefits and proximity to nearby attractions.
Email or telephone enquiries link through to the Landlord Direct Lettings Office, and our staff handle these booking enquiries on your behalf.
We stick to your letting criteria, your do’s and don’ts. We have a full consultation with you, we list the services you include with your cottage on your booking page, and also the ones you prohibit, so our booking staff can refer to your booking criteria at all times.
We sync and up date all booking calendars on all sites, to prevent double bookings.
We take payments from guests via the Online Travel Agent websites or directly if they come through our own website. We take payments by Visa and other Debit Cards or by bank transfer.
Insured Client Account
We arrange payments due to you monthly along with a statement of account. All client monies are held in insured client accounts. This gives peace of mind to both owners and guests.
We arrange payments to you along with statements of account. We are a registered 'Safe Agent' all client monies held are protected by client money protection insurance. ( Set to be a legal requirement for all agents in 2019) All client monies are held in insured client accounts. This gives peace of mind to both owners and guests.
Please send us some pictures of your holiday let or short stay property by using our image uploader
Our image upload will automatically resize your photos and then email them to us.
For further information please contact Landlord Direct
Tel: 07951 712 958 please ask to speak to our director Mark Hutchings.
Need An Energy Performance Certificate - Legal Requirement
All holiday cottages must now have an EPC Energy Performance Certificate, they typically cost around £60 and last for 10 years.
See National database
Need Smoke Alarms or Carbon Monoxide Alarms Fitting - Legal Requirement
All let property must now have a smoke / heat detector fitted to each floor, so if 2 Storey you need one alarm on the ground floor and also the first floor landing. If you have a solid fuel burner or fire you must have a Carbon Monoxide detector fitted at your holiday let. Get these alarms checked at least annually and change the batteries.
Landlord Gas Safety Certificates - Legal Requirement
Whether Calor or Mains gas, it is a legal requirement for holiday cottage owners to obtain a 'Landlord Gas Safety Certificate' carried out by a Gas Safe engineer annually, we would recommend.
Electrical Certification & PAT Testing
You should obtain a 5 year periodic electrical certificate for your holiday let, and arrange for all portable electrical items PAT tested annual.
Open Fires & Log Burners
Make sure all flues and chimneys are swept at least annually and keep the receipt or certificate. Visually check the condition of log burner flue seals and arrange for repairs of you feel they may need resealing. An air vent in an external wall in the same room as the log burner should be in place, and a carbon monoxide alarm as mentioned above. If you intend letting your property to families we would suggest that you supply a fire guard to open fires and log burners.
Fire Risk Assessment
Landlord Direct will help you write a fire risk assessment for your holiday let if it is a standard holiday cottage this should be a straight forward matter.
Holiday Let Insurance
Holiday let property must have a specialist insurance policy in place, general buy to let insurance is unlikely to cover the holiday let 'short stay' use. There are therefore specialist insurance brokers out there who are set up to secure you the correct insurance policy on good terms. Apart from insuring the actual fabric of the building, these policies protect cottage owners against Public Liability claims, absolutely essential when you have paying guests staying. If your property is leasehold, it will be covered under a block insurance policy, you should check with your property managers to see if the block insurance policy covers you for short stay / holiday letting.
Authority From Lender
You may already have purchased your property on a Buy to Let mortgage, however if you have a lender for the property , please check with them that you are able to let out the property as a Furnished Holiday Let.
Authority From Head Lease - Leasehold Property
If your property is leasehold, then you may find your are in contravention of the terms of your lease if you run a short stay business from your property. This can be a grey area so do check with your block mangers or freeholder or residents company directors.
Planning & Local Authority Directives
Most Local Councils do not currently consider short stay letting as a planning issue and most short stay properties pay Council Tax and are designated C3 Residential Property. However as in some London Boroughs, restrictions have been put into place to limit the amount of short stay letting to just 90 days per annum per property. All operators should continue to check with their Local Authority to their position regarding short stay lets, as it is likely that some restrictions may apply at sometime in the future.
To qualify as a furnished holiday let, your cottage must be advertised and available to let for at lease 210 days per annum.
With modern cameras it does not always seem necessary to employ a professional photographer to take pictures of your holiday let property. However we would very strongly recommend that you use a professional photographer who will have the correct back lighting, wide angled lenses and softening filters that get those Wow factor photos! we recommend John McClean
Immigration (Hotel Records) Order 1972 - Keep Records Of Your Bookings
The Immigration Order places a legal duty on all owners or the managers of all serviced and self-catering accommodation to keep a record of the name of all guests over the age of 16 years old and to take a note of their on-going destination usually their home address, for at least 12 months. The Landlord Direct booking service is designed to capture this needed information and we keep appropriate records.
The Equality Act 2010
Although some holiday cottage owners do not allow pets, under the Equality Act all holiday cottage owners cannot refuse a booking from a registered blind person accompanied by their guide dogs. Further the act states owners should do anything that is practically reasonable to assist a disabled guest.
Bunk Beds Regulations
prohibit the supply of bunk beds which could cause a child to be injured or killed, as a result of their becoming wedged or trapped. A bunk bed must not have any: • gap in the bed base greater than 75mm (approx. 3”) • gap elsewhere which is less than 60mm (approx. 2.5”) or more than 75mm Any gap permitting access to the raised bunk should only be in the safety barrier on one of the long sides of the bed, and be of a minimum width of 300mm (12”). Note: The safety of mattresses is discussed separately in the section on upholstered furniture. By means of simple measurement, you should be able to make sure whether a bunk bed satisfies the ‘gap’ requirements detailed above. If you are in any doubt about a particular gap size, you should contact your local Trading Standards Service to arrange for more accurate measurements to be made with a special probe. The general safety of bunk beds can be simply tested by checking for such things as stability, rigidity, sharp edges etc. Some bunk beds may also be marked with a British Standard number. This is currently BS EN 747.
Most holiday cottage owners will by new furniture and soft furnishings which will have to meet up to date regulations, however older furniture should always be checked.
make sure all your furniture and furnishings meet the regulations. They must carry an appropriate permanent label at point of sale.
- Keep all purchase receipts – be extra careful if buying used furniture.
- It is safest to buy new from a reputable retailer.
- It is an offence for retailers to sell no-complying items.
- If in doubt, consult your local Trading Standards Office.
What do the Regulations Say?
As from 1st January 1997 all furniture in tenanted residential property must comply with the 1993 amendments to the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 which extends the scope of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 (CPA). This covers the supplying (hiring or lending) of specified goods (upholstered furniture and certain furnishings) “in the course of business”.
A landlord letting her own home over an extended period, perhaps to different tenants, would be deemed to be “letting in the course of business” and would need to comply. We would therefore strongly recommend that anyone, regardless of whether they see themselves as running a business or not, should make absolutely sure they are complying with these regulations.
The regulations apply to:
- Arm chairs, three piece suites, sofas, sofa beds, futons and other convertible furniture.
- Beds, Bed bases and headboards, mattresses, divans and pillows.
- Nursery furniture
- Garden furniture which could be used indoors
- Loose, stretch and fitted covers for furniture, scatter cushions, seat pads and pillows
- The regulations do not currently apply to:
- Antique furniture or furniture manufactured before 1950
- Bed clothes and duvets
- Loose mattress covers
- Sleeping bags
Furniture which complies carries a manufacturer’s label which must be permanent and non-detachable.
All upholstered items must have fire resistant filling material.
All upholstered items must pass the “match resistance test” as prescribed.
All upholstered items must also past the “cigarette test” as prescribed.
Bed bases and mattresses are not required to bear a permanent label but compliance will be indicated if the item has a label stating that it meets BS7177
In the event of a tenant complaint or an incident the defence of “due diligence” may be accepted where it can be shown that the landlord or agent took all reasonable steps to avoid committing an offence – you will need documentary evidence of this.
A private owner letting a single dwelling (his or her own home – not in the course of business) may in theory have some argument for defence, whereas an agent acting on his behalf will not. However, an agent merely introducing a tenant and not becoming involved in the inventory or management of the tenancy my well be exempt from liability.
“someone who rents out a building or accommodation” including holiday cottage owners have a responsibility to prevent and risk control exposure to Legionella.
The best solution is to pay a specialist contractor to carry out a Risk Assessment. If it reports a low risk it is unlikely you will need to re-assess annually perhaps every 5 years or of there is a material change.
Window Blind Cords
Window blind cords need to be fixed high enough off the ground to prevent young children being at risk, this is a legal requirement for all rental property some blinds are fitted with a easily detachable catch.
Safe Use Of Cleaning Substances
Always store cleaning products and chemicals in a place that cannot be reached by children. Do not store cleaning products in base kitchen units or low level cupboards. Ideally let your cleaners bring their own cleaning products , and do not store any products in your holiday let, apart from washing up liquid and bathroom soaps.
Most holiday cottage owners, will not derive a turnover over the vat threshold , and so will not have to charge V.A.T. - but check with your accountant.