From the moment you arrive at your cottage rental, you know this is the place. The one you want to come back to every summer. So, best to avoid doing something that will earn you a black mark in the cottage owner’s books. Luckily, being a good renter isn’t hard. Just follow these five simple rules:
1. Leave the cottage like you found it
Wash your dishes. Take the garbage with you. The cleaning that happens after renters leave is really just a turnover (think: stripping the beds, doing a surface clean, and putting the furniture back in place). And take all your food with you when you leave your rental cottage. “A lot of renters think they’re doing future guests a favour by leaving a half a bottle of pop,” says Ross Halloran, the founder of Muskoka District Rentals. “But if the fridge was empty when you arrived, it should be empty when you leave.”
2. Be respectful of the neighbours
That means keeping the noise down and minding your watercraft manners—sound carries over water. “You can be sure that the owners will hear about it if you’re being disruptive,” says Mark Bordo, the CEO of Canada Stays.
3. Follow the rules
“Respect that this is not an urban home,” recommends Halloran. Learn the systems: should you limit showers to reduce water use or avoid flushing anything specific? Should you use their firewood or buy it in town? Are you allowed to use the water toys and boats? (Almost certainly not. Ask where to rent and if the lake has power restrictions.) How should you store food, garbage, and recyclables so you don’t attract bears?
4. Be honest
If you say you don’t smoke but then leave cigarette butts outside, you likely won’t get invited back, says Halloran. Realistically, “things may happen,” Bordo says. “Your kid may spill a bowl of spaghetti on the rug.” Clean it up as best you can, and ‘fess up to the owners.
5. Treat the cottage as you would your own place
When in doubt, the experts agree, this should be your guide.