Demand for unusual homes with extraordinary or original features for location filming is increasing. Could your Kent house be a film star?
Properties located in a major city or within the M25 have a particular appeal, which puts Kent right on a canny director’s list if hotspots. However if you think this might be for you, then before getting too far in the process it is important to do your homework and to know what to expect. Check that there are no planning or other permissions you might need to get first. If so this might take time and will need to be in place before taking bookings. Is your insurance company happy to continue cover whilst the filming happens and if so on what terms? Are you prepared to have your home taken over by possibly 30 strangers? Would you be happy only with photo shoots or would you mind moving out if filming will take several days or even weeks?
Think about your neighbours. Do you have adequate parking or will your neighbours be affected by the extra cars and vans or by noise at anti- social hours? It is always a good idea to warn them of your plans in advance and hopefully have their blessing. Your neighbours may not share the same enthusiasm for the disruption caused and, if you cause a nuisance by substantial or unreasonable behaviours, they might be able in an extreme case to stop you.
Assuming you still want to go ahead, always register with a reputable location agency. Not only will they introduce you to potential film companies but they will also negotiate the location contract—for a commission of course. This will usually be in a standard form and will set out all the important stuff—how much, how long for, will you need to move out and will any changes be made to the property (and put back!). It will also spell out your responsibilities as well as those of the film company. For example what happens if the booking is cancelled or they want to change the date?
Make sure you have passed on to the film company any requirements of your insurers for any damage or breakages to the house or any of your belongings. As a starting point your home should be returned to you in the same condition as when you left it. Often, the film companies will decorate to fit their specific requirements and re-decorate it back on completion of filming Usually the film company will replace or make good any breakages, but as these may not come to light for some time after they have gone, make sure you can still claim later on. It might be best to first remove that beloved family heirloom if you would be heartbroken to lose it.
The film company will have their own public liability insurance for any harm to any of the crew (or you and your pets) but make sure you have checked this out first.
So, you have registered with a location agency, have lots of bookings and you are happy with how it is going. Remember, however, if you are renting out your house more than just occasionally you might be responsible for business rates. If you employ others to help or you have altered your house so that you can rent out a part of it you might have to declare that part is no longer a home but instead a business property. If that is the case, do be careful about capital gains tax when you sell, which may be chargeable on the value of the business part.
Oh and don’t forget, any fees you earn will be taxable and must be included on your tax return.
What are you waiting for... Lights, camera—action!
First published in Kent Life, January 2015