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Letting your home for success

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Making a bit of money by renting out your home, even for a few weeks, is something many homeowners have considered. Susan Welsh meets one Highland family who tried – and made a success of it.

It was in 1789 that Robert Burns wrote: “My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here; My heart’s in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer.”

It’s a line of thought that still resonates with people today, particularly during the festive season when thousands of people from across the UK and beyond, dream of spending this special time of year in the Highlands.


It’s because of this surge in demand that homeowners here are being urged to consider letting out their home, and perhaps using the money gained from it to offset the cost of a holiday – somewhere warm and sunny for themselves.

According to data from TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals, rental rates are potentially lucrative over the festive period with average rates in the Highlands ranging from £471 for a one bedroom up to £919 for a four-bedroom home.

“Holiday accommodation over the peak season can be extremely expensive, but you can ease the pressure on the purse-strings by renting out your home while on holiday yourself,” said James Kay, from TripAdvisor.

Renting out the family home to holidaymakers is something that works for the Fraser family, from Evanton.

Like a lot of folk in this part of the world, Paul’s work took him overseas and they had to decide whether to sell up or keep their home, Drumarbin, on Swordale Road, Evanton.

Paul, a former director of finance with Northern Constabulary in Inverness, left the Highlands in 2008, firstly working with the State Police in Albania before moving to Kosovo then Jerusalem where the family live now.


“I work in budgets and accounts and work for the United Nations, looking after a field office on the West Bank which provides services for refugees,” said Paul, “but Evanton is still home for us.

“We bought Drumarbin in 2003 and really liked the area as it was ideal commuting distance for my work in Inverness.

“The size of the house suited us, plus it came with lovely gardens and grand views.”

The accommodation in the detached house comprises, on the ground floor, a hall, large lounge, dining area, kitchen and games room and conservatory, three bedrooms, a family bathroom and utility room.

Upstairs, there’s a master bedroom with en-suite and a fifth bedroom.

Outside, there’s a private, fully enclosed child-friendly garden, large patio area and drive which can accommodate a number of cars.

A field at the bottom of the garden allows pleasant, uninterrupted views across the Cromarty Firth.

“When we were moving abroad, we initially tried to sell the house, but the sale fell through in spectacular fashion so Karen and I decided to try renting it out on a long-term basis,” said Paul, 44.


“We found that with a permanent let, it becomes someone else’s home and familiarity breeds contempt in that they’ll perhaps bump a wall and not think anything of it.

“Karen was also keen to stay in the house when we came back home for holidays, but because of long-term lets it was difficult.”

The couple, who have three children, Steven, 24; Kirsty, 19, and 13-year-old Scott, dipped their toes into the world of short-term holiday lets, and after a few ups and downs, found it worked best for them.

“Our aim is not to have the house occupied 52 weeks a year, we just want a bit of money coming in that would cover the mortgage.

“Having somebody in the house, rather than having the house sitting empty, is good as if there’s a problem such as a leak, it will be discovered and with short-term lets we’ve found people are more careful around the house than they are in their own home.

“We charge £600 a week for quiet weeks, £800 a week in the summer and £900 a week during the festive period.”

Taking into consideration the services of a housekeeper and laundry service, that works out at around the same as they’d get from a long-term tenant.

“There’s an investment in time required for holiday lets and it’s taken us two or three years to get a base going,” said Paul.

“But we feel there’s less wear and tear on the house so there will be less work for us to do when we do come home.

“It’s been hard work and success doesn’t happen overnight, but from our perspective, letting out our home has been a good move.”


Those considering letting out their home for holiday lets should have public liability insurance, in the unlikely event that a guest injures themselves in your property, but this is a relatively easy and cheap undertaking.

James Kay also advised: “Think like a traveller – would you want to pay to stay in your home, how could you make your home appeal more than the one in the neighbouring village.

“Tips for Christmas marketing: show in your photographs your home decked out for Christmas guests (put the tree up), talk about the Christmas-themed welcome hamper you’ll leave for guests upon their arrival, show the fire roaring (if you have one), extol what Christmassy events are on in the local area to demonstrate the ‘personal concierge’ benefits of booking direct with an owner.”