You have probably invested a lot in your recreational property. That investment is money and time, and for many people it is also an emotional investment. Maybe you’ve owned a cottage for many years, or it has been in the family for a long time. That property holds many happy and precious memories of fun, laughter, sunshine, and relaxation. Or perhaps you are a new owner, enjoying the wonderful feeling of owning your own piece of paradise that you can return to after a long week in the city. Perhaps you’ve bought the property for your retirement and visit occasionally to dream and imagine what it will be like when you can be up at the cottage full time.
Opening your place in the country to strangers often raises emotional issues. You imagine them inhabiting your precious space, using your bedrooms, watching your TV, and sitting on your deck enjoying your sunsets. For some people, the very thought makes renting a nonstarter. If the weeks your vacation home is rented fill you with dread — if you worry that damage is being done, your watercraft are being wrecked, and candle wax will be spilled on your oak table, then renting is probably not for you.
In an ideal world, of course, you would rent your property only to lovely families who leave it in immaculate condition, come back year after year, and tell their friends, who also look after your place as you would. If you really work at it, you can get as close as possible to this ideal. Even so, it’s probably better to accept that there will always be the odd group who, on first vetting, seemed just the right renters, but let you down all the same. This happens very occasionally but you can’t pretend it doesn’t.
Renting your cottage should, and can be, a pleasurable and profitable experience, allowing you to make the most of your investment by having to earn money for you when you are not using it. To ensure that your rental venture is a success, you’ll need to do some essential groundwork, careful research, and thorough planning. With the right system in place, you can have peace of mind knowing that your guests are respecting your piece of paradise as if it were their own. They will want to come back year after year, so will make sure it is well looked after.
With good marketing, you should be able to rent your cottage throughout the high-season weeks prevalent in your area. For many this will be July and August, Spring break, all the long weekends, and possibly Christmas and New Year’s. This makes for at least 12 weeks of high-season income if you don’t use the property yourself during any of those times. If your property is in an area with a longer high-season — perhaps with both great fall color and a long ski season, you will achieve a higher rate of occupancy. With ever-increasing demand for vacation properties to rent, this level of occupancy should pose no difficulty. The challenge lies in filling the low-season weeks and weekends and getting your property to work for you all year round.
If you are positive that renting your cottage or vacation property is for you, read Renting Your Recreational Property for Profit by Heather Bayer. It will guide you through the process of preparing your property for the market, setting up a booking system, and marketing your vacation home.