How to rent out your cottage in a post-COVID world

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Published: August 12, 2020 · Updated: August 14, 2020

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We’re all eager for some good news right now. So if you’re a cottage owner, here’s something to smile about: there’s never been a better time to earn some extra income by renting out your cottage. Since travel to the States has stalled, and long-term vacation plans are out of the question at the moment, many families are looking for weekend accommodations within driving distance of the city. And the fact that cottages have so much privacy and so many outdoor amenities makes them one of the most attractive travel options right now.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to let someone else stay in your beloved cottage—and renters are just as wary of visiting a new place that might pose a risk to them and their families. So here’s what you can do to make the process easier and safer for everyone.

Be careful about calling your cottage an “escape”

Your cottage is an escape from the nine-to-five grind of city life, from the light pollution of streetlights, and from the all-hours din of city intersections—but not from coronavirus and the social-distancing measures we’ve adopted in recent months. So be careful about using phrases like “quarantine getaway” or “escape the coronavirus” in your listing. Because for now, we still need to practice precautions—even at the cottage—and we still need to respect cottage-country residents who are concerned about outsiders coming to town.

If your cottage has wifi, give it top billing in your listing

Spending time at the cottage is all about disconnecting, but now that a lot of Canadians are working from home, their travel plans aren’t relegated to long weekends. That means that, on the off-chance your cottage is wifi-equipped, it could be the perfect week-long rental for people who are still stuck in Zoom meetings. And the thought of having a lake in the background during their next company check-in just might seal the deal.

Post updated cottage rules

Guest etiquette is a hot topic in cottage country, where nobody wants noisy neighbours to drown out the sounds of nature. And even though you already have guest expectations about smoking, visitors, and stereos, you’ll need to add any cleaning guidelines you’d like them to follow to keep everyone safe.

Have extra cleaning supplies on hand

Packing for the cottage is stressful enough, even if you’re a lifetime cottager. But it can be overwhelming for renters who don’t know what to expect. To remove the stress, let them know up front that there’s no need to pack extra cleaning and sanitizing supplies. Give your guests some extra peace of mind by providing plenty of paper towels, disposable gloves, environmentally friendly spray cleaners, hand sanitizer, and plenty of antibacterial soap. Having extra masks on hand for any trips into town will also be appreciated—especially by those who live year-round in your cottage community.

Make healthcare easy to find

As if the winding, nameless back roads weren’t hard enough to navigate, the lack of a walk-in clinic every few blocks might be a concern for renters from big cities. So be sure to post essential healthcare phone numbers and directions to the nearest hospital in a prominent place in your cottage.

Loosen your cancellation policy

No one’s making long-term vacation plans right now, and we’re all sensitive to the fact that fortunes can quickly change. To put prospective renters at ease, update your cancellation policy to let them know that they can cancel for any reason, and make it easier for them to rent with short notice if they feel the sudden urge to get away for a weekend. To sweeten the deal even further, you might consider reducing your minimum stay requirements and offering discounts for long-term stays.

Highlight outdoor amenities and destinations in your listing

Nearly everyone has been stuck indoors for months on end, so renters will want to get outside as much as possible. And while that mostly means sunny days on the dock, give them the chance to explore even more of your area while still practicing social distancing. Include extra pics of outdoor areas in your listing, and be sure to mention nearby nature trails, waterfalls, lookout points, or other natural areas of interest.

Do a thorough cleaning between guests

Always use proper protective equipment, including a face mask and gloves, when cleaning your space after renters leave. And spend extra time sanitizing the commonly touched places that we don’t often think about cleaning. That includes coffee maker buttons, toaster levers, door handles and locks, and even the knobs on your barbecue and gas line. You should also avoid touching your face during cleaning. For a deeper dive into proper cleaning procedures, follow the most up-to-date guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or check out these rental-specific cleaning guidelines. Also, don’t forget to update your listing and let prospective renters know about the extra cleaning measures you’re taking.

Ready to rent out your cottage this season? Vrbo Canada is the largest local player in the Canadian vacation rental space, with a marketplace model that lets you securely manage your rentals. As part of Expedia Group, Vrbo has access to millions of travellers. That means they can point more of the right people to your cottage. With its secure payment system and an in-house support team, Vrbo is ready to help you get set up and get the most out of your listing. Find out how much you could earn. Visit vrbo.com to enter basic information about your cottage’s size and location, and you’ll receive an instant estimate of your rental potential based on nearby comparable rentals.