​The 15 Essential Items Every Short Term Rental MUST HAVE

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The 15 Essential Items Every Short Term Rental MUST HAVE

Whether you're listing your space on Airbnb, VRBO, Homeaway, or with a professional property manager, you will need a whole bunch of items that guests expect to see and make your life as a host easier and more profitable. Here's a list of the 15 things we've identified that every STR needs.

1 - An extremely detailed HOUSE MANUAL to make it easy for guests to follow the rules and enjoy themselves. This goes for in-house signage too. Don’t assume anybody knows anything about anything

2 - A CLEANING PLAN!! You have options! But whatever you decide (professional maid service, hire someone specifically and train them, your spouse, your nephew, assistant) make sure whoever is cleaning knows EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT THE PLACE TO LOOK LIKE WHEN THEY ARE DONE. I CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH. Use a meticulous Housekeeper Checklist to make in-between-guest-cleanings easier and faster...even if it is YOU doing the cleaning.

3 - A very detailed, stern, honest, fair, gracious, and welcoming HOST who has the capability to run a tight ship through any storm. A lot of your STR success will depend on you, your systems, your rules, and your common sense. You are awesome for even wanting to do this in the first place. Don't let one bad review or one picky guest rock your boat.

4 - A WHOLE BUNCH OF CLEANING SUPPLIES and to make sure your guest know where they are! When humans get together and embark on activities there is no predicting what strange messes will occur! Puke! Baby poop! “Service Animal” Accidents! Muddy Boots! Pizza Sauce! Red Wine! YOU WANT TO GIVE YOUR GUEST THE EASIEST AND FIRST OPPORTUNITY TO CLEAN UP MAJOR MESSES AND SPILLS AS THEY HAPPEN. Have carpet cleaner, clorox wipes, rags, sponges, paper towels! everything!

5 - Entertainment! Something to do! Whether it’s TV’s a whole bunch of magazines, board games, decks of cards, Frommer's books about the area, whatever, have something for your guests to do while they’re stuck indoors on a rainy day.

6 - Rules about NOISE. You must make it very clear to your guest that they must not disturb the neighbors. See our House Rules in the Saved Responses Section of the Airbnb Paperwork System for our wording on how we charge a fee if the neighbors complain to us about guests’ noise.

7 - Coffee Machine. Drip, Keurig, whatever...just have one.

8 - Cooking supplies...you will NEED at least a few pots and pans of various sizes. Nothing special, stirring spoons, tongs, ladles, a cutting board, mixing bowls, all the normal stuff you’d see in a kitchen - the guests expect it. A lot of guests will go grocery shopping on the way to your home.

9 - Enough Place Settings (plates, bowls, silverware, glassware, cups, mugs, etc) for everyone that you have room for. If your listing says you can sleep 12 people, you better have more than 6 place settings.

10 - Vacation Rental Insurance. VERY IMPORTANT. If you have a major insurance claim or a fire or something, and your insurance company finds out you were renting out rooms or the whole house and you never told them, you and I both know that insurance company will do everything in their power not to pay.

11 - Fire Extinguisher. The Application for Vacation Rental Insurance from CBIZ specifically asked if the home has a fire extinguisher in the home.

12 - First Aid Kit. Accidents happen!

13 - A very clear, detailed, easy-to-read, RENTAL LISTING with lots of Pictures. The more info you can give to your guests and the more transparent you can be about all the different and unique aspects of your property or hosting style will pay you dividends.

14 - Dishwasher! Not negotiable.

15 - A sense of humor. You are embarking on a really cool and really fun journey. You are going to have some amazing guests who will touch your heart, and they will be immediately followed by some finicky frugal Freddie who will steal your salt and pepper shakers. You’re about to have all kinds of “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” kind of stories. You must have thick skin and the ability to laugh when things seem like they’ve gone wrong.

We know there are more than 15 things you need in the home, so comment below of there's anything you would add to the list.

I CAN HELP with a a few of these items too! For a detailed House Manual, Cleaning Checklist, and MORE, hit me up.

@Kathy Hansen LOL awesome.  And I guess it proves that EVERYTHING in real estate is negotiable.  

Personally, we wouldn't have been able to sanely keep up with it without a dishwasher. But I guess if you can then it absolutely can be done. Thanks for responding, good luck in the STR space :)

It's the small things that surprise guests and that get us great comments: an assortment of seasonings, crayons and paper, good books on the area,

The one thing everyone seems to need:  great wifi. 

I currently travel a bit for work and often stay in short term rentals, and this list pretty much covers all the major items I think are must haves for a top review!

One item I think might be missing is Wi-Fi! In this day and age it has to be a necessity! 

@Julia Parslow @Jonathan Breton Yes I personally don't want to stay anywhere without Wifi.  However, we operated a luxury home as an Airbnb for 5 months with no TVs and no Wifi.  Stayed 91% occupied and averaged $192 per night.  

I've got another blog post written that is basically a list of things you may not need.  HINT: TV and Wifi are on that list...

We noticed that as long as we had it in the Airbnb listing clear as day "This home does not have Wifi" we didn't really have any problems.  Early on we didn't have it so clear in the listing and it made for some interesting conversations with guests. After we put it in the listing in all caps, once in a while we would get a message from a prospective guest something like "Does the home really not have any Wifi?" and it was a coin-flip if they would go on to complete the booking or not.

@Brandon McLean it looks like you have a great list compiled for sure. Everything is geographic as it pertains to needs and requirements. Our Florida properties require very different things then mid coast Maine. Lastly, if you have 91% occupancy you aren’t charging enough.

Add a Smart TV or a Roku device to the list, along with a charcoal grill.  99% of my renters are guys with a high school education making around $2500/week.  I decorate with things that appeal to that demographic.

In a world where many inexperienced STR owners are leveraging scripted, robo-check-in/out, we might need to add "human beings" to the list as well for guests to call for help. Granted, more of a problem on AirBnB due to their complicity in encouraging ever-increasing automation, but there is truly nothing worse than a late check-in lock-out without a safety line or concierge to assist.

Hi @Brandon McLean . Just sent you a connection request. Would love to take a look at your house materials and hear more on how you handled the cleaning/turnover. In other STR owners I have spoke with, this is consistently the one overhead they find most challenging to cover given $100+ average cost.

@Brandon McLean

Thank you for listing the essentials on this thread.

I'm looking for a checklist that a guest will go through upon their arrival.  Its more so they can communicate concerns or issues with me if there are any as well as not be held responsible for potential damage that was not caused by them.

Is this common practice?  Is there one that is concise yet comprehensive?  

@Ashley Wolfe they won’t do it. You likely won’t hear from them at all unless they show up to a dirty house you forgot to clean. No one reads anything. And a checklist will annoy them. They want to drink and eat not do check lists.

@Ashley Wolfe they won't do it.  I keep house instruction on every fridge of my 24 or so STRs.  It never fails, they call me with some question the first day.  My standard answer is "Read the instruction on the fridge".  The usual questions: What's the address? What's the wifi password? When is trash picked up?  How much is the rent? What's a good restaurant? Who is a good attorney?  Where can I go in this town for fun and not get in a fight, assaulted, robbed, arrested, harassed by law enforcement, catch an STD or get killed under suspicious circumstances?

@Lucas Carl and @Paul Sandhu  

I had the feeling it would be a waste of my time to create one or an unrealistic expectation of guests.  I get it.

Now it’s one less thing I have to do to get ready!


I stumbled upon this thread and was wondering if anyone has a checklist for items needed for a STR (i.e.. linens, appliances, kitchen utensils, etc.)? I am purchasing a duplex and I am considering Airbnbing them. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

@Val Peare Look at your own house. Put everything in your STR that you have in your own house, except for your personal things.

For example, I have a kegorator in my garage. My biggest STR is a 3 story 4 bath house that sleeps 8. It has a kegorator.

I live out in the country and have a few firearms. There is a scoped pellet rifle and ammo in another STR (along with bait for starlings and pigeons). Sniping birds from the back porch is a good way to unwind after work.

Adult dvd's.  Got them at home, got them at STRs.

I built a fire ring/fire pit for myself.  I built a few others for my STRs that have a nice back yard conducive for recreation.

@Val Peare Coffeyville Kansas.  We have a refinery in this town.  Contractors (welders, pipefitters, boilermakers etc) that come here to work temporary jobs at the refinery are the people that rent my STRs.

Respectfully I disagree about the house manual not being important or guests not reading it anymore. I have found with my guests, they devour the combination of property info and local recommendations that I give them. I’m in my 12th year of hosting.

I do deliver it digitally through a web based app as soon as they book and then have a printed version at each property as well. This has helped set expectations before they arrive and answer questions like the closest grocery store and parking instructions.

I know my guests love the welcome books because they mention them in their reviews.

When I traveled recently I stayed at a place that gave no information about what to expect for parking. On arrival we found out that the parking was metered and could only be paid by coin and not with credit card or phone, so we were unprepared and did not have the foreign coin ready. It was embarrassing to ask our host for a few coins to pay for parking until we could get to the ATM and then a shop for some change.