There has never been a better time for farmers in Britain to own a holiday let, according to the UK’s leading holiday cottage rental agency, Sykes Cottages.
In a recent report released by Sykes Cottages, the company discusses how Brexit will affect the UK holiday letting market and how farmers can make the most of the outcome. Although some welcome the reshaping of British farming policy, there are new trade agreements to be negotiated, a possible loss of EU subsidies and uncertainty over EU migrant workers to be considered. As a result, many of the consequences of leaving the European Union remain ambiguous.
This uncertainty may lead farmers to supplement their income by utilising unused land or outbuildings to take advantage of their sought-after rural locations and open a holiday let. Farms with vacant barns can convert them into cosy holiday cottages, or those with spare land can add quirky shepherd’s huts or romantic yurts to their grounds.
The UK holiday market is already strong, with Visit England presenting record breaking visitor data for the first quarter and spend up by 23% on last year. Post-referendum, this increase only looks set to continue as the current value of sterling makes Britain excellent value for money for those travelling from abroad, as well as making it more expensive for Brits to holiday overseas. As a result, accommodation in Britain has never been more in demand.
Margaret Scribbins, 56, runs a 2,000 acre mixed farm in Dorset and lets out seven on-site holiday homes through Sykes Cottages. The holiday lets were converted from run-down farm buildings six years ago, because of her desire to give them life again as well as to have an income to support and repair them.
Of holiday letting post-Brexit, Margaret said: “Farmers will need to look at all opportunities that arise, and for some it will be one of the things that offer an additional source of income.
“We enjoy holiday letting as it is lovely to see so many people coming to the farm and having a great time. We know that people love being on farms, as we do, and it’s also nice to feel that we are putting something back into the local economy. The local pub is delighted with the extra trade our visitors bring”.
All seven of Margaret’s properties are occupied for at least 40 weeks of the year; one property in particular, (Shepherd’s Hut, an old converted barn with an eaves window overlooking the surrounding countryside) is rarely empty.
On the conversion process, Margaret advises: “Having brought up five children, we knew how to design the properties to cope with the wear and tear of constant visitors. I would also say that allowing dogs is a must as people that want to stay on farms are also likely to have dogs. With this in mind, we designed the properties to have secure, enclosed gardens”.
Sykes Cottages estimates, via their earnings calculator, that three bedroom properties in the South West of England, such as Shepherd’s Hut, can earn up to £21,000 a year through holiday letting.
In particular, they have seen a growing interest in cottage getaways on farms. Shelley D’Arcy, Head of UK Property Recruitment at Sykes Cottages said: "Farm holidays are always in demand, especially for farms where holidaymakers can get involved in the activities. Holiday letting could be a great way to help farmers maximise their income and fulfil their farm’s potential."