Ontario is home to many lakes and rivers, and there are many stunning, privately owned properties in remote areas that are ideal for vacations away from the stress of city life.
If you are a cottage owner thinking about making a little extra cash by renting out your property for the first time, your timing is excellent! Demand for this type of accommodation is growing.
COVID-19 has changed the way we think about crossing borders, being in crowds, and even leaving our homes. Air travel has become a little scary for lots of people, and the appeal to a quiet vacation closer to home has increased. Families who have never camped may now consider the seclusion of a tent to be safer than a large hotel or resort, and see a cabin or cottage as a luxurious vacation getaway.
Before putting out an ad offering your place for rent, consider doing the following things to protect your investment and ensure a smooth experience:
1. Create a written list of detailed instructions for guests and leave them at the cottage.
Many of your renters will be city dwellers who may not know much about septic systems, wells, cisterns, or even how dispose of garbage that can’t be left at the curb. Provide some basic details about the house, property, neighbours, rules, local amenities, etc. Leave clear instructions for who to call in case of emergency. Do a little research – there are many templates online to help you write a great welcome book. Here’s one we like to get you started.
2. Screen your guests well.
Have a set of criteria for renters and a clear list of rules. Consider taking a damage deposit and clearly state what type of damage or behaviour will result in your keeping it. If you are not comfortable doing this on your own, you might want to hire a service like VRBO to help you through the process of finding renters, processing payment, keeping records, and building a reputation.
3. Furnish your cottage with durable items that will withstand heavy use.
Think shatter-resistant dishes, solid (but inexpensive) furniture, thick towels, and easily washable bed linens. Limit the number of knick-knacks and breakables. Decorate sparingly – just enough to create a homey feeling, but without putting any of your own treasured valuables at risk of being damaged. If you need a little inspiration, take some tips from the experts.
4. Decide whether you will offer the use of boats, jet-skis, life-jackets, etc.
You may rent these separately or include them with the cottage. Whatever you decide, be sure to check with your insurance provider to see what their requirements, coverage options, and charges are for this type of rental.
5. Speaking of insurance.
Be sure to get all the information from them about your policy and how it will change if your cottage becomes a short-term rental property. You will want to ask about any restrictions, and be sure to have enough liability coverage.
With a little advance preparation, you can be successful in generating some income while providing safe and pleasant vacation options to others who are looking for a place just like yours!
If you’re considering whether or not to purchase a cottage, read “5 Questions you need to answer before buying a cottage”.