How Much Should You Share With Your Renters?

Part-time vacation rental owners make up the bulk of those entering the market in many areas. By part-time, I mean those who are, perhaps reluctantly but for good economical reasons, renting out their cottages, cabins, villas, vacation homes (whatever you want to call them) for the weeks they are not using them personally.

I talked to many of these people at the Cottage Life Show in Toronto last week, and will no doubt do the same next weekend at the Cottage Show in Ottawa, and the same questions came up every time:

What do I do with my own stuff? How much can I leave in cupboards and drawers? Do I have to move all my personal belongings out?

In the seminar I presented last week, I talked about the changing face of vacation rental; the increasing expectations of rental clients, and how owners need to adapt to both of these to capture their share of the market. Part of this adaptation is realizing that this type of vacation is new to many travelers. They have been used to resorts and hotels for many years and they bring perceptions and expectations based on those experiences. To some extent it is a challenge to live up to those expectations particularly if your plan is only to rent for a couple of weeks in the summer. Some argue that it’s too much trouble to move their stuff out for such a short time , and that renters should accept they have rented a ‘lived-in’ property and be prepared to share the space.

My view is that the moment you list your property on a vacation rental site, you become a provider to the travelling public; and once you accept money for a period of time in your property, you have responsibilities to provide a good standard of accommodation. And this does mean moving your clothes out of wardrobes and dressers; creating space in the food cupboards, and cleaning out the junk drawers.

Take a moment to think about what happens when your guests arrive. If the weather is great they’ll probably be more focused on the outside, than on unpacking, but at some point during their stay, every cupboard and drawer will be opened, every bed looked under, and any storage box you’ve left out will be examined. It’s human nature and we are a curious species, so even the cupboard you have carefully labeled, “Owners” will be checked out.

So, how do you manage this when you use the place a lot yourself?

Several years ago we visited our friends’ fractional ownership property near Lake Tahoe. It’s a beautifully furnished and decorated property with everything supplied by the management company and owner syndicate for a comfortable stay. Along with 6 other owners they had 7 weeks each year they called the place their own and it was fascinating to arrive with them and see the place transformed into their personal space. Out of a cupboard came a couple of totes packed with photos, pictures, candles, ornaments, vacation clothing and shoes and non-perishable food items they had left from their previous visit. They even had their own sign with their family name that hung on a hook outside the main door. Within about 15 minutes the villa was their own again.

Along with the decision to rent out, comes an acceptance that you’ll have to make concessions to your own use of the property. You’ll want your renters to feel welcome and not as though they have invaded someone’s personal space, so take some time to plan what you have to do. Here’s a few tips:

Personal belongings – clothes, shoes, bathroom cabinet stuff

Buy several totes. Label each one with the room the contents are from, and create an inventory list. Use additional boxes to pack smaller items in the totes, such as toiletries

Food

If you have your own food in the fridge – half used ketchup/dressing/margarine etc, consider moving them out. Buy a small fridge to go in the basement if you have space and keep your perishables in there if you must keep them at the property. Leaving non-perishables in the food cupboards is OK to a degree providing there is plenty of space for your guests to store their supplies. It is nice to supply seasonings, herbs and spices, olive oil, coffee, tea, sugar and flour etc., but just make sure the cupboards are not cluttered with half-full boxes of pasta and rice.

Videos, DVDs, books and magazines

I recall a rental guest’s concern after a stay in a cottage where he had found X-rated videos in the extensive collection. He appreciated having a large choice of video entertainment but didn’t feel it was appropriate to have videos available that his children may encounter. I agree. Take some time to go through your video, DVD and books and remove those that could offence or embarrassment.

Family photos and personal effects

It’s not necessary to take down every photo as this could result in an environment that looks sterile and lacking in atmosphere. However, it’s worth taking a candid look around and asking yourself how much of yourself and your family you wish to share, and how much they need to see. A couple of framed photos on the wall is fine, but rooms stuffed full of free-standing frames of assorted family weddings and events, along with a lifetime of quirky buys from various bazaars around the world may not be so well received.

It is in our interests as owners to respect our rental guests and provide them with quality accommodation for their stay. If that means there’s a little extra work involved then it’s best to accept that it goes with the territory. If you are unwilling to do that, it may be better to reassess your motivation to rent.

Chester@Fractional Ownership

Great post.
It’s important to point out that while shared ownership /fractionalownership does imply that the propertyis partly yours, you should always have respect for those that will come after you.

Chester@Fractional Ownership’s last blog post..Friend wants to sell me fractional ownership in his house. How would we do this?

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