Holiday homes rule – if everyone knows the rules

JANUARY 9, 2022

With most Australians back at work after a well-earned break and hot cross buns already on supermarket shelves, now is the perfect time for people with jointly owned family holiday homes to set some rules for future vacations.

 Increasingly, securing a stake in a family holiday home is a goal for many Australians. For starters, a holiday home can save on hotel bills at Christmas and Easter, and there may be investment potential if the property grows in value or rents for part of the year.

 According to Angus Raine, Executive Chairman Raine & Horne, "Owning a holiday home is a great family asset if some simple rules are in place from the outset.

 “Subsequently, if you're fortunate enough to have a share in a holiday home, get together with family members to review what worked over the Christmas period and what could work better in 2022 starting with Easter.”

 Managing peak holiday periods

 Angus advised that an accommodation schedule shared with all family members is a crucial tool for congenial relations. "There will likely be searing competition for times such as Easter, school holidays and Christmas. 

 "However, some families solve this by alternating from year to year. In others, family members may have more flexibility because they're retired or self-employed – and might agree to holiday at non-peak times such as May or August. 

 “With a fair and common-sense approach, families can always find a solution that works."

 Avoiding family dustups by dusting and mopping

 Cleaning a family holiday home can be a boiling point if left unaddressed. "Family members may have different ideas about cleanliness, but that won't be an issue if everyone agrees from the outset on the condition the property must be left in before  the next occupants arrive," Angus advised. 

 "Some families address the cleaning issue by choosing to pay for a professional cleaner when they vacate the property.

 "If sheets and towels become an issue, a family might make a rule that each occupant brings their linen and takes it with them when they leave.

 "A clean barbecue is another matter that shouldn't be ignored. Also, make sure there's always a full gas bottle for the next occupants. Therefore, be sure to include barbecue etiquette on your family's checklist."

 Sharing repairs and maintenance

To ensure family members aren't left out of pocket when repairs and maintenance are required, Angus advised that it's essential to agree from the get-go about how you will pay for these expenses.  

"You could set up a sinking fund, like those used in strata arrangements, where all owners contribute an amount. Each owner's contribution to the fund could be calculated based on how often they use the property.

"Alternatively, if there are some handy types among the family, they may agree to fix leaking taps, slap on some paint and maintain the gardens themselves.”

According to Angus, if either of these options do not work for your family, then an old-fashioned working bee could be a great way to keep the holiday home spick-and-span.

"By getting everyone together to do the maintenance work, you will not only save money, but it is also a fantastic opportunity for a family bonding session."