What you need to know before renting your cottage

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Renting your cottage is a great way to make some extra cash to help cover all the expenses that come with owning a cottage (property taxes, regular maintenance, and insurance!). That being said, there are a few things you need to do before you get into the rental market. Here are a few of the most important ones:

Set rules for your renters

Decide on specific rules for your renters, including rules on the type of renter you want using your cottage. The best tenants are often friends, friends of friends, colleagues, neighbours or relatives, as you know them personally. Even if you have a personal relationship with the renters, make sure they sign an agreement which details the rules you have (including things like maximum number of guests and any specific regulations your lake may have about things like noise, campfires, boating and water sports).

Create a cottage ‘handbook’

Every cottage is different and every lake or district has specific things a cottager needs to know to enjoy their time out of the city. As a cottage owner, you usually know these things off the top of your head, but its very likely your renters don’t. Create a ‘handbook’ for your guests, which gives them detailed instructions on anything they might not already know. Things like how to operate the fireplace or air conditioning, where the smoke detectors are and how to reset them, how to dispose of waste (to make sure there are no run-ins with local bears!) are things a seasoned cottager knows but a renter likely doesn’t. Most importantly, always include contact numbers of the local emergency services.

Keep your cottage spic and span

Renters expect to come into a clean and tidy cottage – they want to start enjoying their vacation immediately, not after a couple hours of cleaning! Before setting out your rental rates, figure out who will be doing the cleaning before and after each set of guests – will you hire a professional or will you do this yourself? Make sure you factor this in when you determine your rental rate. Give your guests guidelines (either in your rental agreement or in your handbook) on how the cottage should be when they leave. Do you want them to throw all the towels in the washing machine or turn on the dishwasher before leaving? Make sure they’re aware of your expectations to make the guest turnover easy and as quick as possible for you!

Don’t be surprised by some wear-and-tear

You should expect some wear-and-tear when you’re renting out your cottage. Even the best, most responsible renters will have minor accidents that will require maintenance.

This is where the right insurance policy is crucial, you want to ensure all major repairs or damages are covered by your insurance company. You need to ensure you have the right policy which covers both personal use and usage by renters. Always check with your broker or insurance company before you start renting your property.

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