The finest Norfolk Coast holiday cottages from established local property letting agency.

t: 01328 730880
e: [email protected]

Home Owner Information Book

  1. Why Choose Sowerbys Holiday Cottages?
  2. Frequently asked questions
  3. Room by room guide
  4. Useful house information
  5. Housekeepers checklist
  6. Fire Safety Regulations
  7. Fire Safety Assessment information
  8. Fire Risk Assessment example
  9. Insurance information
  10. Holiday Property Tax Factsheet

Why Choose Sowerbys Holiday Cottages?

We are an established local independent agency who for the last decade have been successfully letting the best holiday cottages in coastal North Norfolk from our offices in a prime location on Burnham Market’s village green and in the iconic Granary building in Wells-next-the-Sea. With our experienced and professional team we have established a good reputation for our management and marketing skills, specialising in second homes maintained to a high standard, which provide the ultimate “home from home” experience for our clients.

Unlike national agencies we are completely flexible in our approach where you decide how often you choose to use your property and also how much you would like us to do for you. We have a full-time Property Maintenance manager and can offer a full management service, or arrange cleaning, gardening and any other required maintenance on your behalf.

We do not charge our guests a booking fee and our commission charge of 20% (plus VAT) not only covers all our advertising, marketing and bookings administration, but also the management of guest arrivals and departures, liaison with cleaners and other relevant tradesman, plus the provision of a 24 hour emergency contact number. Your details are not passed on to your guests, so you can relax safe in the knowledge that you will not get any late night phone calls!

With our new improved web site and the facility to book cottages online, large mailing list and wide distribution of our brochures from all the Sowerbys estate agencies throughout Norfolk, we are achieving record levels of bookings for our properties. With the ever increasing demand for good quality Norfolk cottages we are keen to add to our portfolio. Our company ethos is very much about quality, not quantity, and we believe this is vital to ensure we continue to achieve high levels of customer satisfaction, the proof of which is our high number of repeat bookings and an incredibly loyal guest list.

We’d be delighted to discuss the potential income for your property and how we could work with you. Please contact us if you would like to arrange a free no obligation visit to your property.


Frequently Asked Questions
Letting With Sowerbys Holiday Cottages

I’m considering letting my holiday home. What’s the first step?
Please call us or come into our office where we can arrange a free no obligation visit to your home. There we will discuss and advise on all aspects of letting and estimate the potential rental income which you should achieve.

Are there any restrictions on how often I can use my holiday home throughout the year?
Absolutely not! It’s your home and we do not place any restrictions on when you can use it, although we do ask that you let us know when it is not available, even if it’s a last minute decision to use it.

I live abroad or don’t have time to deal with my Norfolk home – can you look after everything on my behalf?
Yes! We have several owners who are not resident in the UK and we can manage all aspects of looking after your holiday home and letting on your behalf.

Once we’ve decided we’d like to let with you, how long does it take to start marketing? Can we start at any time of the year?
We can take new properties on throughout the year and usually start marketing them within 2-3 days of having viewed them. We’ll write up the details, take photographs and ask you to approve them. Once this is done your property can be live on our web site. Our brochure is only printed once a year (usually December) and so for inclusion in this we would need to know by November.

Do I need to set the rental prices?
No – we will suggest rental rates throughout the year, but are happy to amend in line with your views. We will also recommend new rates on an annual basis, taking into account national trends and local demand.

Can I take my own bookings?
Yes we are happy to work with you in the letting of your property and can accommodate this, providing you keep us informed of booked dates.

Can I use another agency as well as Sowerbys?
Sorry but no. We now work on a sole agency basis for all new instructions as we are confident that we can achieve good levels of bookings and therefore see no need for another agent to be appointed.

How much do you charge?
Our commission charge is 20% (plus VAT) of the gross rental amount on all the bookings we take and this is deducted when you are paid for the rental. There are no annual fees or set up charges and there is no charge for private use. Unlike many other agents, we do not charge guests a booking fee, nor do we charge an admin fee for arranging any maintenance work.

Do you check with me prior to taking a booking?
The ideal situation is when you provide us with dates for your private use and we have your property on a “Book Now” status, which means we do not have to check with you first. There’s no doubt that this generates more bookings because of the last minute nature of so many bookings now. If you do wish to retain control over the dates booked, then we are happy to check with you first, but do ask that you may be contacted easily and that we are given a prompt answer.

Can customers book online via your website?
Yes guests are able to book 24 hours per day via our website and enter payment details securely via Sage Pay. However please be assured that all bookings are deemed to be provisional until they are confirmed by us and no card payments are processed until the booking is agreed. This enables us to check with you (if necessary) prior to accepting the booking.

How do I find out when my property is booked?
We will send you a booking confirmation (usually by email) as soon as the deposit has been received (or the total for last minute bookings). You can also check on our web site which is updated as soon as a provisional or confirmed booking is taken.

When and how do I get paid?
We pay most owners directly into their bank account once we have received the total payment, which is usually 5 weeks prior to the booking (unless it is a last minute booking). A financial statement is emailed for each payment made.

What arrangements do you make for key collection?
This depends on the location of your property. We hold keys in our Burnham Market office and our Wells office and also use Sowerbys estate agency in Hunstanton, for guests to collect and return keys on departure. This gives us a chance to meet the guests and also get useful feedback from them. Many properties now have a key-safe so guests go there directly – the choice is yours!

How many sets of keys do I need?
We would like 3 sets please: one set for emergencies and then have 2 available to give to guests.

Will my property be damaged? Do you take any kind of security/damages deposit?
Yes we hold £250 as a standard security deposit and up to £500 for our larger properties (either by cheque or by card) which is used as a deterrent and tends to be used for additional cleaning or any damage. Generally we find that guests do have respect for other people’s homes and will leave them in a good condition. Over the years we have seen the need to withhold some of the security deposit in less than 0.5% of all lets.

Do you charge guests for breaking a glass or a plate?
No we believe that this should be regarded as “wear and tear” and that it’s petty to charge for minor accidents.

Do I have to leave some sort of welcome pack for guests?
Yes we believe that it makes a good first impression if something has been left. We can provide our own welcome pack which consists of a good bottle of wine, kettle chips and a cake for which we charge £12.50 + VAT. If you’d prefer to make your own arrangements then this is fine and it is at your discretion as to what you choose to leave.

What other food and cleaning items should I leave in my property?
We think it is a good idea to provide some basic food items (such as tea, coffee, sugar, salt & pepper) and cleaning materials (washing-up liquid, loo roll etc) which we have detailed in the “House-keepers Checklist” guide.

Do I need to provide an information folder for guests?
We ask you to compile a simple guide to how things work and have enclosed a copy of the type of information that is useful to leave. It is useful to have all your instruction manuals for various appliances and machines in a folder. We think it’s a good idea to leave a visitor’s book as we know guests like finding out what previous occupants have enjoyed. We will provide a Sowerbys Holiday Cottages generic guide with useful contact numbers and our local recommendations for places to eat and visit.

Do I need to do an inventory?
This is optional and we believe that it is only worthwhile if there is someone who will be checking it in between bookings. In practise this is rarely done, so our view is that it is not required.

What are the house-keeping arrangements? Do I need to organise my own cleaner?
We have very flexible arrangements re cleaning and laundry whereby you can do it yourself or use your own house-keeper. Alternatively we are able to organise cleaning and laundry by reliable experienced professionals on your behalf. We will liaise with the cleaners as required and give details of guest numbers and any special requests. We can also let your cleaner know when you have been using your home privately so they know when their services are required.

Do I have to provide bed linen and towels?
Yes please. In all of our properties we insist that bed linen and towels are provided, as this is a service that our guests expect from us. We recommend 1 bath sheet & 1 hand towel per person, plus bath mats.

What are the house-keeping arrangements for bookings which are 2 weeks or more?
We ask the guests if they would like a complimentary clean and/or change of bed linen and towels on their booking form. This is then communicated on the confirmation of booking.

Do you offer any maintenance services?
Yes we have a full-time Property Maintenance Manager who is an experienced builder and can do most things! We have built up a good network of reliable local experts and can offer a wide range of services including gardening, decorating, odd- jobs, pest control and just about anything that is thrown at us! We can also arrange boiler servicing and annual maintenance checks as required.

What happens if there’s a problem in my property when guests are staying?
The guests would contact us, either in the office or if out of office hours we leave an emergency mobile number where we may be contacted. Usually we would contact you to inform you and find out if there’s a “quick fix” solution that you know of. If you do not have your own tradesman, we would arrange for the problem to be fixed. For middle of the night emergencies we would call someone out straight away and inform you later.

Do I have to accept dogs? Will it increase bookings if I let them stay?
No, the choice on whether to take dogs is up to you. You can choose one of 3 options: dogs welcome (no restrictions) or dogs by special arrangement (if you are happy with 1 small dog, but not keen to have large dogs or more than one) or a no dogs policy. In our experience you will definitely get more bookings if you do allow dogs to stay, particularly off season when responsible dog owners come to walk in the area.

Do I need to have special insurance for holiday letting?
Yes you must ensure that you have appropriate insurance for holiday letting which will also provide you with public liability insurance. We have enclosed details of a company which provides good cover at competitive rates.

Do I need to have any electrical/gas checks before I can start letting?
Yes you need to have an electrical PAT (portable appliance test) check carried out by a qualified electrician and if you have a gas supply you need a gas certificate (we can arrange these).

Are there any specific fire regulations?
Yes you need to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment and need to comply with the latest Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Regulations (effective from October 2015). Details are attached.

Does my property need an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)?
The law is continually under review, however the present situation is that holiday homes do NOT require an EPC if the tenants do not have sole access to the property i.e. if the owner or letting agent holds a key and is able to access the property during their stay. Our booking terms and conditions clearly state that we do have access, if required, to the property.

For tax reasons, how many weeks do I need to let out for to qualify as a furnished holiday let?
The law now states that a furnished holiday home must be available for 210 days and be actually let for 105 days per year. A tax fact sheet is enclosed from a local accountant.

Do I have to sign a contract? How long do we have to sign up for?
Yes we do have a contract but there is no time period that you need to sign up for. All we ask is that you honour any bookings that you have agreed to if you decide to stop letting for any reason.

How do you market my property?
We produce a high quality brochure every year and have a mailing list of around 13,000 applicants to whom we send this out to. In addition to this we distribute another 10,000 brochures every year from our offices in Burnham Market, Hunstanton, Wells, Norwich, Holt, Dereham and King’s Lynn. We also advertise in specifically targeted publications like The National Trust magazine and Country Life, as well as local publications such as North Norfolk Living, Uniquely Away and Suffolk/Norfolk Life. Our user-friendly web site appears on the first page of google when searching for holiday cottages in the area and this too drives a considerable amount of new business.


Guidelines for Each Room

To help you furnish and equip your property, we have listed below the essentials for each room. This is by no means an exhaustive list: guests are more likely to return if you can achieve a real “home from home” experience!

Sitting Room

Dining Area

Bedroom

Bathroom

Kitchen


Example guide for useful house information

We hope you enjoy your stay in our cottage and have detailed below some information that you may find useful.

Cooking: Please refer to the instruction booklet for the oven (booklet located in ). However, as a quick guide, the dial needs to be set to …
Dishwasher: The best setting for general dishwashing is . Press the on/off switch on the machine’s front.
Heating: The boiler and controls are in the cupboard in the rear bedroom.
The boiler can be set: for hot water only; off/reset; for hot water and heating . The heating is timed to come on at for a couple of hours and again at . Please feel free to adjust this for seasonal variation. The thermostat control is located on the wall just inside the front door.
In exceptionally cold weather, there are a couple of electric radiators stored .
Fire/wood-burner There should be sufficient logs available for your first fire. If you need additional fuel this may be purchased from .
Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms These are located in the property in .
These have been checked prior to your stay, but please let us know if the batteries require changing.
Instructions: The instruction booklets for various appliances are all together in a folder in .
Iron: There is an iron and ironing board in . As the water in this area is hard, if using the iron’s steam setting, please fill with previously boiled water and not water straight from the tap.
Pillows and duvets: The pillows on the beds are all down & feather. If you need additional pillows or synthetic rather than the natural filling ones these are . Duvets are made of .
Rubbish/Recycling: The bins for the house are located . black bins for rubbish and green for recycling. Please recycle paper, newspapers, magazines, cardboard, aluminium and steel food and drink cans, empty aerosols and plastic bottles. Everything else should go in the normal rubbish bins, but please take glass bottles to the bottle bank (the nearest bottle bank is )
Please put the bins out on .day for collection.
Fuse Box This is located . Please flip up the trip switch in the event of a blown fuse etc..
TV and DVD: The on/off switch is located on the top of the TV – it takes a few seconds for the picture to come up. The channels we get are terrestrial channels/ Freeview channels.
This is a DVD player only (doesn’t record to disc). The on/off switch is located on the left hand side. The open/close button is on the right hand side.
Vacuum Cleaner: The vacuum cleaner is stored under .
Washing Machine/Tumble dryer Please refer to the instruction manual, located in the cupboard to the right of the washing machine, for the best cycle to use for your requirements.
Keys To lock the door please lift the door handle . Please remember to return the key to the key-safe on your departure.
Barbecue A barbecue has been provided and we’d be grateful if you could leave it in the state that you’d like to find it in for the next guests!

Housekeeping Checklist

General

Kitchen

Sitting Room

Bathroom(s)

Bedrooms

Outside


Fire Safety Regulations

UK: The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order

Fire exit sign

In October 2006, the 'Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005' came into effect in and replaced over 70 pieces of fire safety law. The changes made replaced the need for fire certificates, which have now been abolished and no longer have legal status.

The new legislation affects all businesses and places where anyone could conceivably be at risk should a fire occur. This includes all forms of sleeping accommodation, such as self-catering properties and B&Bs or guesthouses sleeping up to six guests, which were not previously affected.

Who is affected by the change in legislation?

What does the new legislation mean?

What is a fire risk assessment?

Fire Risk Assessment Example

Please click here to download the example Fire Risk Assessment.


Insurance Information

Please click here to download our Insurance Information advice sheet.


Holiday Property Tax Factsheet

Please click here to download our Holiday Property Tax Factsheet.