Guide to furnished holiday lets

Categories: holiday lets | guides | buy to let mortgage guides

Furnished holiday lets (FHLs) are short-term rental properties typically targeted at the holiday sector. They are subject to different rules than standard buy to let properties and also require a specific holiday let mortgage.

In the following guide, we’ll take a deeper dive into this subject and address questions such as:

What are the criteria for furnished holiday lets?

To qualify as an FHL, a property must:

  • Be located in the United Kingdom or the European Economic Area (EEA), which includes Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.
  • Contain enough furniture for normal occupation.*
  • Be available for public rental for at least 210 days a year (self-occupation is excluded from this figure).
  • Be rented commercially for a minimum of 105 days a year.
  • Not have any individual rental period greater than 31 days**
  • Not have over 155 days of combined long-term stays***

Please note, Commercial Trust can only help with holiday let mortgages on properties in the UK.

*There are no specific requirements regarding what this constitutes.

**If a rental period is longer than 31 days, it will not count toward the total for that year unless it has occurred in unexpected circumstances such as the occupants flights being delayed/cancelled or if the holidaymaker fell ill and could not leave.

***Includes all stays of 31 days or more.

What are the occupancy requirements for a furnished holiday let?

The occupancy requirements for FHLs are pretty clear, but there are some specifics that need to be addressed, so let’s take a closer look.

Must be commercially let for 210 days

To ensure that the property is a genuine FHL, it must be available for at least 210 days every year to paying members of the public. If you stay at the property at any time, you are not allowed to count those days. The same is true for periods when the property is rented to friends and family.

There should be no long occupation for a single person

If a single person stays in an FHL for over 155 days, it will no longer qualify. This rule is in place to prevent long-term rental properties masquerading as holiday lets.

What’s more, each rental period must be less than 31 days, otherwise, it will not count toward the total.

Must be rented out to the public for a certain number of days

Finally, FHLs need to be occupied for 105 or more days per year. As noted above, this requirement excludes all letting periods of more than 31 days, unless that period was extended due to unexpected and uncontrolled circumstances, such as illness, lockdowns/quarantines, or a delayed flight.

This rule is in place to prevent second homeowners from abusing the system when they have no intention of renting out their homes.

However, it doesn’t mean that you won’t meet the criteria if you fail to attract holidaymakers to your property. There are two exceptions, known as “elections”.

An Averaging Election

If you own multiple properties that qualify as FHLs and one or more don’t meet the 105-day requirement, you can elect to apply this condition to the average rate for all of your properties.

For instance, if you have three properties with 110 occupied days each and one with 100, it equates to a total of 430 days and an average of 107.5, which is sufficient.

An averaging election can only be applied to a single FHL business and you’re not permitted to mix properties in the UK and EEA.

Period of Grace Election

If you had full intent to meet the letting conditions but were unable, you could still qualify via a period of grace. You must show that you tried to let the property, such as by proof of marketing or cancelled lettings.

A period of grace is allowed if the letting condition was made in the previous year. A second period of grace is allowed in the following year, but if the property fails to meet the requirements in year 4, it will lose its FHL status.

Can you get a furnished holiday let mortgage?

Furnished holiday let mortgages are used to acquire properties that will be let to short-term tenants, including tourists. To qualify, you must meet the requirements outlined above, as well as those put forward by the lender.

Most lenders require a deposit of at least 25%, equating to a loan-to-value (LTV) of 75%, but deposits can be anything from an absolute minimum of 20% up to 40%. The total amount you can borrow will depend on the rental income, which in turn can vary based on everything from the property size to the location.

You can use our calculator to check today’s holiday let mortgage rates.

Stamp duty is also payable, and it is charged at the residential rate and not the commercial rate. Like buy to let mortgages, holiday lets are subject to a 3% surcharge if they are worth more than £40,000. So, even if your holiday let is worth less than £250,000, which would be enough to exclude you from stamp duty on a first home, you will still be charged this tax.

You can use our buy to let stamp duty calculator here.

How Commercial Trust can help you

Whether you’re a first time holiday let landlord or an experienced property owner seeking some advice, Commercial Trust can help. Our experts are well-versed in buy to let mortgages, bridging loans, commercial mortgages, and, of course, holiday let mortgages.

Get in touch today to learn more.


Also known as holiday cottage mortgages, furnished holiday let mortgages are for properties used for short-term rentals, such as holiday accommodation.

As with any type of business or self-employment income, you must pay tax on the profits earned from an FHL.

Yes, tax is charged on the profit that you make, and that profit is calculated by taking your total earnings and deducting relevant expenses. Those expenses may include certain fixtures, fittings, and furnishings. Speak with your accountant or tax expert for more information.

Yes, you are allowed to stay in your own FHL and can also rent it to friends and family at reduced rates, providing it still meets the FHL requirements. The number of days you can self-occupy a holiday let property have rules applied to them which you can find above on this page.