People choose to rent their cottage for a variety of reasons. A shared family cottage becomes a source of supplemental income. An investment now becomes a retirement property later. No matter the reason, the result is the same; a money-making opportunity that can provide long term benefits.
There are a lot of things to consider when deciding to turn your cottage into a rental. Here are a few questions to answer to help make your decision.
1) When Will You Rent It Out?
Determine if your cottage will be solely an income generating rental property, or if you will use it for part of the year. Create a calendar to determine your rental times. Note that long weekends are great times to use the property, but they may also garner more money than regular weekends if you rent it out. If you will be using the property as well, consider your personal belongings and where to store them when you have renters. Often times, owners keep a closet or back room locked with their personal items so they don’t have to remove them from the cottage when renters are present.
2) Who Will Be Renting?
Decide if you want to limit renters to only friends and family, or if you will rent it out to the general public as well. There are pros and cons to both. By renting to friends, family, and acquaintances, you have more piece of mind knowing that your cottage and your belongings will be well looked after. It’s a smaller group than the general public, but may be all you need. On the other side, opening up your property to strangers allows a much larger audience the opportunity to rent, but you don’t always know the quality of people who will be under your roof. You will also need to determine if you will allow pets or not.
3) What Will You Charge?
There are many online resources to help you set your price. Look at what is being rented out in your area by searching through various cottage rental sites like HomeAway, VRBO, HomeToGo and Cottage Life. Summer months and holidays will garner a higher price so keep that in mind when you are renting. Also determine what your yearly operational costs are for the cottage. If your goal is to offset those costs, set your rental price accordingly. Certain attributes will allow for a higher rental price. Things like water access, beach or lake front locations, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as how modern the place is all drive the price. Take the time to note other attributes that other cottages may not have, like a washer/dryer, boats, hot tubs, etc. Proximity from major cities will also dictate price.
4) How Involved Do You Want To Be?
Some cottage owners have the luxury of living close to their property and can pop in whenever they need to. Other’s opt for a rental property manager who will oversee the cottage when you are not around. Either way, have a plan in place so you are aware of the time commitment involved. Some property management companies will advertise the property, oversee the rental change over and provide cleaning services. Some of these companies include Cottage Country and Ontario Cottage Rentals. If you want to save on the cost of a property manager, at the very least, arranging for a cleaning company will alleviate a lot of work.
Create a welcome book that includes a troubleshooting section, such as finding and using the fuse box, a list of repairmen, and other emergency contacts. You may be on vacation yourself, and will need to have a contact in case you aren’t available. A welcome book can also include useful information like boating laws, garbage disposal, and how to use appliances.
Once you have determined your rental plan, you will be well on your way to creating an income generating property. Follow our blogs for more in this series on how to best advertise your property and renting out a shared family cottage.