7 Critical Considerations Before Renting Out Your Cabin or Cottage

There is a lot to think about when you decide to list your home as a short-term vacation property. While it can be a fun and exciting venture to open your own rental property, it’s important to make sure you know the ins and outs.  Here are the many components to consider before setting up your cabin as a temporary or short-term rental property.

Legal Liability of Vacation Rentals:

It’s critical to understand your local rules and regulations for short-term rental, before setting up your cabin as a rental property. Do your research, connect with a local expert, be thorough in this planning process, and be sure to protect yourself, legally. Also research third-party vacation rental (VR) companies, like VRBO or AirBnb. They will have their own rules and regulations to follow.

Short-Term Rental Market & Pricing:

You will also want to research the short-term rental market in your area. Are your neighbors listing their homes? If so, do some digging to find out what they are doing well, what you can improve on, and what they are charging for their home in various seasons. Third-party VR companies will have pricing tools of their own.

Rental Property Maintenance:

Maintenance will be a huge and ongoing responsibility in a short-term rental property.  Make sure to do a thorough inspection before getting serious about setting up a VR listing, and invest in any major repairs up front. 

Keep a detailed schedule of routine maintenance items as well as a list of trusted plumbers, electricians, HVAC specialists, etc. 

Turnaround Between Guests:

Unless you are planning to maintain your home yourself, you will want to hire a professional housekeeping team for cleaning and turning your home over between guests. Be sure to ask about laundry and restocking supplies as part of your research.

Facilitating Check-In & Check-Out:

For the most part, guests want to be left alone in a clean, warm, inviting space. Plan to provide thorough information in writing,to help avoid extra stress and communication upon arrival. Be clear with instructions about arrival, access, parking, and rules. If you’d like, you can leave a handwritten note welcoming guests and including any recommendations or asking for reviews. Beyond that, let your guests contact you if they need anything.

Rules & Personal Protection:

Be sure to get specific about any risks or rules associated with a rural property including winter, wildlife, fires/firewood, and any rural-type systems like septic systems. Remove or protect any valuables in the home and be sure to put away personal mementos and photos in a locked closet or storage area.

Guest Experience:

Vacation guests are looking for a blank slate and a comfortable space to get away from their lives. Be sure your home is stocked with essential items like toilet paper, hand soap, trash bags, etc. Additionally, stock your kitchen with cooking, serving, and dining supplies, as well as basics like oil, spices, coffee, and small appliances. Beyond this, provide any “extras” you think will make a positive impact such as: a highchair and crib for family accommodations; firewood, blankets, and puzzles for a winter getaway; or deck furniture, dock, and water access for a summer vacation experience.

Setting up your cabin or cottage as a short-term or vacation rental property can be a source of extra income and a great way to extend the use of your home. These items are only the beginning. If this is something you are considering, do some research or connect with an expert who can guide and advise you through the process.