The day after we had the offer accepted on our dream holiday home in France I started irritating my other half by discussing how we were going to manage the requests of friends and family to stay there.
He wanted to soak it all up, drink Cahors wine, and revel in the fact he at last owned a little bit of France. For me it’s all about the detail. But am I glad I started thinking about it then so we were prepared with our patter for the first request or “friend” that appeared out of the woodwork. How do you define a “friend” – well I am sure there is a whole other blog in that question.
It is undoubtedly worth having a policy. It could potentially be one of the stickiest areas in owning a holiday property and is particularly important if you are running it as a business or need to pay the mortgage, as we do. Every time a friend stays in it for free not only are they using your electricity, gas, coal, wood and water; they are also costing you the amount that you could have had from a paying guest in that week. We struggled at first to come up with a policy. In an ideal world we would like all our good friends and family to use it for free, but in an ideal world we would also like to win the lottery. We felt guilty about having such a beautiful house and not sharing it. In the end the policy we came up with seems, on the whole, to work. We offer family and friends a 10% discount, but during the peak weeks when we could fill it three times over nobody gets a discount. Friends and family also get other perks like use of the car that we have out there and the bikes that are kept locked away in the garage.
Our experience has been varied. The good family guests (my brother) mowed the lawns and repaired all the bikes. The not so good family guests got huffy when we wouldn’t give them a 10% discount during the school holidays. Do not expect all friends and family to be good guests. It is hard to comprehend, but they are often the worst.
So for all you holiday home owners, who are running a business, please don’t do guilt like we stupidly did. Come up with a policy that suits you and stick to it. Remember your real friends will completely understand and the freeloaders aren’t really worth having as friends. This is a business and part, if not all, of your livelihood, real friends would not want to take that away from you.
I would be really interested to hear others stories and experiences in this area. Please comment below