Jane Lack - Yorkshire

Jane Lack shares her experience as a homeowner with our local brand Ingrid Flute's Yorkshire Holiday Cottages. Her property is Gallowa's Cottage in Middleham, Yorkshire Dales.

Here's Jane's story:

1.Tell us a bit about you.

We are Jane & Jeremy Lack. I am assistant manager for Yorkshire Cat Rescue Charity shop in Keighley and Jeremy works for Yorkshire Water. We live in a converted farm building which we renovated ourselves. We enjoy skiing, walking and we have a love of historical buildings and antiques. We enjoy gardening and Jeremy's DIY skills have improved immensely!

2.Why did you buy your particular property and fall for its location?

We purchased the property because it had 2 bathrooms, original features, and had a low maintenance garden. It also needed very little work carrying out to bring it up to quality standard. There were very few properties to choose from at the time and we wanted the purchase to go through before the changes in stamp duty for 2nd homes. Consequently, the location did not really feature in our decision-making.

3.How much did the property cost and when did you buy it?

£287,000 in January 2015

4.How much did you spend on renovations?

Approx £25,000

5.What’s your yearly return on investment?

We have just completed year 1 and therefore have no accounts yet. We have had 25 weeks of bookings and we believe the target is 26 so we are pleased. The income however should now cover the overheads without us having to subsidise it for the next year.

6.Why or how did you come to do holiday lettings?

We had a bad experience of long term letting which we did not want to repeat. The money from the sale of that property needed to be invested somewhere where there would be a better return than in a savings accounts. The tax relief on holiday lets is much more realistic than long term lets.

7.Why did you want to use an agency?

Whilst we spend our own holidays in self-catering accommodation we had no knowledge of the sector whatsoever and therefore needed experienced support to ensure good marketing and a contract we were happy with.

8.What has been the most challenging aspect of letting?

Letting go - a lot of money, effort and emotion goes in to setting up a holiday let and you have to trust your suppliers to work on your behalf - this is my worst nightmare and I personally will not let go completely. We live 45 miles away so cannot be on hand to deal with most emergencies. Finding local tradesmen that are reliable and not overpriced has been a challenge. Cleaners have also been difficult to find and to deal with.

9.What has been the most rewarding aspect of letting?

The feedback has been tremendous. We have so far received no negative feedback and we are always willing to take up any helpful suggestions. The welcome basket and beds feature well in the comments we receive from guests.

10.What piece(s) of advice would you give to somebody who is looking to let?

Read the quality assessment guidelines closely - we aimed for 4* gold and achieved this. Cleanliness is the one factor that receives the most criticism so don't cut corners. Pay attention to the detail - think what you would want from self-catering accommodation and provide it plus more. Don't 'go it alone' and listen to advice especially from the property recruiters. Make friends with local businesses and check out the competition. Whilst we are unhappy with the cottage location our customers love it - take a step back. Invite friends and family to the property as they will be your harshest critic. Hire the linen and spend money on accessories. Buy the best beds you can afford. Have a slush fund in case of emergencies (we had to install a new oil tank). Scour the charity shops for accessories as there are some fantastic bargains to be had. Write your own Welcome Pack, personalise it and do local research so it is not formulaic. Avoid Ikea.

11.What do you like about working with Original Cottages and their family of brands?

We were introduced to Ingrid Flute's by an estate agent when we were looking for a property. I had many conversations and meetings with Sykes Cottages and Cottages.com which were very helpful but the guidance we received from Ingrid Flute's property recruiter throughout the whole process (and continuing still) was the deciding factor to choose them. The team is small but they all took time out to visit the property and meet me to help them sell the property to prospective holidaymakers.