If you’re lucky enough to have a stake in a family-owned holiday home, it’s important to establish the rules of engagement from the beginning.
Family members would do well to agree to an accommodation schedule for the holiday home from the outset, which diarises when the property is occupied and by whom. Some weeks are more valuable than others, such as Christmas and Easter, but by taking a common sense approach, it’s feasible to develop an accommodation schedule which is suitable to all parties. It might be that those family members without children or those with pre-school children agree to stay at the property in non-peak times. Once an agreement is reached, these dates should be included in the schedule, which is shared with all family members.
Cleaning is another issue that can cause disputes in a shared holiday home. From the outset, all parties should agree about how the property should be left after a vacation stint. Typically, to circumvent any concerns, all parties could agree to pay for a professional cleaner every time they exit the property.
Dirty linen is a common bugbear of shared accommodation – and to manage this issue, I advise that occupants could take their own linen to the holiday home and remove it with them when they leave. At all times, and to help avoid disagreements, the house should be left tidy and don’t forget to leave behind a full gas bottle for the barbecue.
A pact about how repairs and maintenance are funded is another way to maintain holiday home harmony. One method is to contribute to a sinking fund not unlike those used in strata arrangements, where all owners contribute an amount, which is calculated on how often they use the property. Alternatively, maintenance and repairs can be paid as required, or for the handy types, family members can fix leaking taps, slap on some paint and maintain the gardens themselves. Breakages have the potential to cause familial schisms.
If you, your partner or the kids crack a glass or lose some cutlery, just fess up and replace it. There’s nothing more annoying for the next family member than to arrive at the shared holiday home and discover the kitchen is short on basics such as plates, cups and glasses.
For those considering buying a holiday home with family, I urge people to discuss the potential impact of land and capital gains tax with their accountant.