8 Great Ideas for Vacation Home Owners

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1 Magnetic door locks

When you spend time in your own cottage, there will be things you don't want to take home with you, or pack away in totes. Storing them in a cupboard that is designated as ‘owners' storage' is the best way if you don't want guests using particular items. You'll need to find a way to secure the storage area without it looking untidy and unwelcome, so instead of using a padlock which doesn't look great, why not try a magnetic door lock. These secure a cupboard door from the inside with a magnetic ‘key' to lock and unlock. Take a look at this one from Toys'R'Us

2  Shaklee Products

If you are an Oprah watcher, you may have seen her endorsement of these natural products. I was supplying all sorts of cleaning materials for my guests and the bathroom ones all had bleach in them. My towels were getting bleach spotted, and I don't think it was doing much for my septic system either. The Shaklee product line looks expensive but once diluted and supplied in spray bottles, will last a long time. I'm trying this one out in our cottage and will follow up with a report.

3  Oust a Mouse

2007 was the year of the mouse. We heard of many cottages that were overrun with them last summer, and of owners whose renters had quit halfway through a rental because of rodent issues. We've known the developers of the Oust a Mouse system for several years and have also talked to cottage owners who have used the box successfully, so have no hesitation in recommending it. It's so much better to have a neat box concealed outside the cottage rather than ugly mousetraps under couches and in drawers.

4  Keyless Entry Systems

Don't put the key in the barbecue, under a flower pot or on a nail under the deck. The chances are good that your renters will lose the key at some point during their week, or will forget where they should leave it on their departure. Get a push button key box, or better still, a Powerbolt keyless entry system. Then set the code to the last four digits of the renters'

5  Propane Tanks

Get two tanks! In fact, get three. There should always be one on the ‘Q' and one full spare at the property. Each changeover, take down a full tank and replace the empty or semi-full tank. Then use that one at home. This prevents those calls at 8 pm on a Sunday night with the complaint that the propane has run out. This is such a simple fix but saves so much time and frustration all around.

6  Dump Cards

Every cottage country dump has different requirements and if yours is one that asks for a dump card to be shown, you may need to put a plan in place to preserve yours. Rental groups often head to the dump on their way home and invariably carry on with the precious card tucked behind the cup holders. Since townships are notoriously tight on replacing lost dump cards, they don't take too well to them going missing week after week. An alternative way of managing this is to liaise with the dump ‘police' and ask if they would accept a ‘letter of authorization' in lieu of a card. You then provide each rental group with a unique letter that they can use while in residence and take with them on their last day.

7  Cleaning Checklist

Renters will generally do what you ask of them before departure, but if you fail to give them adequate guidance, they may fail to give you a tidy and clean cottage. Providing a checklist so they can tick off items you want done is the best way of directing your renters to leave the place in good condition.

8  Power Outage Kit

We all know how common power outages are in the summer after a thunderstorm or high winds. Supplying a kit that contains everything a renter might need to see through an extended period without power will help them to continue enjoying their vacation independently, so it's worthwhile to spend time on this. Items to include are a flashlight (with batteries kept separate), bottles of water, a battery or wind-up radio, laminated sheet with emergency phone numbers and instructions, an analog phone if the standard one is digital, safety candles or an enclosed gas lamp. I also include a tin of powdered milk.