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6 Must-Know Tips For Renting Out Your Cottage

June 30, 2016
4 mins
An older couple walk around a scenic lake

If you’re like me, you love cottage living. But, if you don't own a cottage, renting is the way to go in order to experience a taste of northern living this summer. As well, if you're a cottage owner, renting out your cottage to others when you're not there can help rake in a few extra bucks. However, renting can be a tricky business; both sides want to get great value without too much fuss. Here are a few suggestions for maxing out your cottage rental potential.

What To Know About Renting Out Your Cottage

Owning a second property is expensive and renting out your cottage, farm or chalet when you’re not using it makes good financial sense. But there’s much to do to get things ready for rental.

  • Check rental listings for your area to set a competitive price: Take into account water access (do you have a beach?), number of bedrooms, the modernity of the place, proximity to where your renters live (you can’t charge as much if you’re a five-hour drive from a big city) and amenities such as a dishwasher or boat.
  • Clean up: You need to put away any personal belongings and be sure anything you do own at your cottage you could, at least in theory, live without. That means taking home your top-notch chef knives and the fancy stereo system. The more basic your cottage, the less you have to lose in case something gets stolen or broken.
  • Be safe: Many renters are families so they will be looking for a childproof cottage free of hidden hazards. Be sure you have gates for the docks and there are railings on the deck. Even little things like a mat in the shower can prevent big problems later.
  • Get insured: Call your insurance company to be sure you’re fully covered for renters. If not, it might be time to switch policies or providers.
  • Get help: A property management company can help if you’re doing many weeks of rentals a year. At the very least, you’ll want a cleaning service. Tap into a web service such as Cottage Country, or one that caters to your region such as Ontario Cottage Rentals. For a fee, you can advertise and book your cottage and your potential customers will easily find you there.
  • Smart marketing: Take good pictures and post an online summary of your second home with detailed descriptions of what makes it unique. If you're running things off your own web site, use online tools such as a booking calendar to make bookings easier.

What To Know As A Renter

It’s hard to find a great cottage — I know, I’ve tried! You really have to look beyond what’s on a cottage’s web page and imagine what you really need and want from a rental. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your rental dollar.

  • Book early: The best spots are sadly long gone by mid-winter! When you book last minute, you get the spots few people want.
  • Ask around: Before you shop online for a cottage, ask friends and relatives where they have rented before. You might find a gem that’s been tested. If that fails, visit cottage rental sites for the area you want so you can compare pictures and rates.
  • Read between the lines: If water is “nearby” that means it's not a waterfront property. “Deep water access” means the kids will have to jump off the dock if they want to swim. “Cozy” or “rustic” can mean somewhat broken down.
  • Know your deal breakers: If you need a really nice kitchen to be able to enjoy yourself, call and ask detailed questions about the countertops and stove. If you want beach access, don’t be satisfied with “well, there’s a little sandy area.”
  • Consider amenities: Having things like a powerboat or paddle boat for use, a hot tub, beach, playground — all these things add to your enjoyment of a property. Since it may rain while you are away, look into what’s on the property and nearby in town for those drizzly days.
  • Pay more: If you want to push on price, you get what you pay for. By spending $100-$200 more a week you can often get a nicer property with more comfy beds and a decent bathroom. If you cheap out, that’s where you will be sleeping all week.
  • Go off the beaten path: Every region has a super popular cottage country. Rates there will be sky-high. Look for a property in a less hip region but still promises warm temperatures, clear lakes and great views. As a bonus, getting a meal or shopping in that region is probably cheaper too! If a cottage is in the cards for you this summer, enjoy the sun and water. Think smart financially and be sure every cottage rental penny is worth it.

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