We made tens of thousands of dollars in the last year because we were willing to share our home for one or two weekends per month. Hence, I've been getting a few inquiries about some non-obvious tips on where to begin to vacation-rent your personal residence.
Some ideas that we learned from experience:
1. Check covenants or bylaws of your HOA for restrictions on renters or short-stay tenants.
2. Check with your municipality. Don't give your address but the neighborhood may suffice. They may also have restrictions on the number of "unrelated parties" in residence.
3. We took all our valuables and put them in a safe then locked all our clothes, etc into our master closet. Those keys were unique and kept by us.
4. Set up extensive house rules for guests to follow at arrival, during and after their stay. Remember that folks may smoke or worse in your house unless you communicate the policy and punishments up front.
5. Determine the security deposit amount. "Zero" is not an option.
6. Provide separate, non-sentimental towels, bedding, glassware, flatware, furniture, tablecloths. Note that everything is fair game if you leave it accessible - Fine china, memorabilia, heirlooms, even your favorite ice cream or personal hygiene items (your shampoos, hair products, brushes, etc are fair game if they are not locked away in the house, Replace them and hide away the stuff you wouldn't want to be used by someone else or broken.
7.Make sure you have somewhere to go on short notice and for days at a time. Keep a travel bag for you and/or your family mostly packed with your necessities for the weekend. One for each person.
8. Consider a small "welcome gift" for the guests. Perhaps something that is a "local" treat as a gesture of your hospitality. This will start their stay and your relationship off on the right foot. They will think twice about leaving a mess if they want to return your kindness.
9. Set up temporary alarm codes for your house. Get spare keys, garage door and/or gate openers. Thoroughly verify that all these are returned.
10. Always check your guests in in-person. Briefly review the house rules and verify that the party that arrives is the right size and "shape" (number?, pets?, smokers?, inebriated?, # vehicles?, etc)
11. Count out the glasses, wine glasses, plates, towels, etc in advance. Stuff gets broken and goes missing. Not a big deal, but these little things add up, plus you want to provide a full set for the next guests if something gets broken.
12. Charge a cleaning fee and use professional cleaning. Clean the full set of bedding every time! Use mattress covers underneath.
Hope this is helpful. Please add your non-obvious tips for folks wanting to rent out their home as vacation rentals. You can make great money!
I would add 2 things:
1. Get signed up CSA, TravelGuard, or and of the travel insurance companies to get a damage waiver protection. This small fee $15 - $99 will cover you for up to $1500 - $3,000 in any accidental damage that happens at the property.
2. I love Resort Lock. - keyless entry that generates a 10 digit code that will only work for the date/time of their booking. It does not need wifi access to operate and you can generate the code from your smart phone.
Make sure to check with your insurance company that they cover you should something happen.
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