I often find myself in some beautiful homes where the owner has taken such loving care and attention to creating just the right warm and inviting space that reflects not only their personal taste but themselves and their family. The house has been loved and enjoyed for years, but they just aren’t getting to the lake as much as before and it is sitting vacant most of the time. The owner wants to see if they can turn their home into some income, and most of the time the answer is, Yes! Here are a few things I often talk to owners about when they are preparing the home for guests.
1. Remove most, if not all, personally identifiable information, and family photos.
Your home will be rented by strangers and sometimes people who know you, and while we all want to think the best of our fellow human beings, the truth is that you just never know. With as little as your last name on a welcome sign coupled with a family photo, someone could easily use that information to find you or your family. My intention here is not to scare you, but to make you aware of what you may be inadvertently giving someone access to. In the same manner that you use to protect your family on the internet, remove anything with your name on it and all photos of family and friends. If you want to keep those items in your house, lock them in a closet where the guests won’t have access to them.
2. Remove anything you don’t want to be broken.
It is not a question of if something will be damaged/broken. It is a matter of when it will be damaged/broken. You want the items to which guests have access to replaceable items without shedding tears over them. Some examples of these would be special figurines, one-of-a-kind art pieces, a quilt your grandmother made, and designer furniture. I always advise my clients that if it would break their hearts to have the item broken, then it should be removed from guest access.
3. Eliminate or mitigate safety hazards as much as possible.
While you are aware of the loose railing on the stairs, your guests are not. Tighten up that railing or replace it so kiddos and the intoxicated do not have an accident. Install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in every bedroom. Tack down that area rug with some carpet tape. Remove the old wooden bench you haven’t felt you could sit on safely since 1993. You want your guests to have a great time and the best way to turn a great time into a disaster is to have a preventable accident occur.
4. Less is more, especially in kitchens.
If your drawers won’t open for all the utensils stuffed inside, or you have to duck to avoid the avalanche of plastic bowls, you need to significantly downsize your kitchen contents. You do not need 16 different spatulas. Leave out 3 and pack the rest away. Guests will want to use the upper cabinets to store their food, so leave them some room to do this. Keep a few condiments in the fridge and toss the rest of the contents. If you want to have food for yourself, consider a second fridge in a garage or other area off-limits to guests. Only keep appliances in the kitchen that everyone generally knows how to operate. Sure, that espresso machine is awesome, but very few people will be able to enjoy it and most would be intimidated by it. Instead, put in a basic 12-cup drip coffee maker that everyone knows how to operate.
Of course, these are only a few things to consider but are often overlooked by those who are new to short-term rentals. Partnering with a professional licensed property management company that specializes in short-term rentals can help you avoid these issues.
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