Real Estate

What you should look for in a cottage if you plan to rent out

Symbol of the house and stick the key in the keyhole, key for renting out Photo by inxti/Shutterstock

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic sent city dwellers rushing towards cottage country, cottage prices have been soaring. It’s why many buyers decide to rent out their cottage to balance the cost of the investment. 

“Many more buyers are interested in renting out their cottage,” says Catharine Inniss, a realtor who’s been selling real estate in Muskoka for 16 years. “Some clients think they’ll use it themselves a little bit while they rent it out for a few years, and then eventually, they’ll use it solely as their own cottage or they’ll move up here.” Here are five things to look for in a cottage if you plan to rent it out. 

1. Local rental rules

Different areas may have different rules regarding short-term accommodations

“The rules can change from township to township,” Inniss points out. “People really need to use a local realtor who knows what the rules are. It would be a shock if you were counting on that money and then you weren’t allowed to rent out your place.” Even if short-term rentals are allowed, you may need to spend money on a short-term rentals licence. Research the rules before you buy. 

2. Location 

If you’re going to be depending on that rental income, you’ll need to determine just how much you can charge for rent. Some of the biggest factors are the area and nearby amenities. 

“Are there activities around that people are going to want to participate in?” Inniss asks. “If you’re coming up for a week or two, you might want to go to a local fair or somewhere for lunch.” She adds that prospective buyers should do a bit of research to see how popular the area is for renters or how much comparable cottages in the area are being rented for. 

3. Accessibility

A water-access cottage might be more affordable, but will also be less desirable for some renters? The same is true for a cabin that’s deep in the woods, less accessible in the winter, or simply too far from more populated areas. Before pulling the trigger on a cottage, consider whether renters will want to tackle the challenge of getting there. 

4. Cell phone reception and internet access

To some renters, Netflix may be just as important to their holiday as the sunset. But reliable internet service in cottage country can be costly, if it’s even available at all

“It’s a huge factor,” says Inniss, about cottages having phone and internet access. “Yes, some people want to disconnect, but others might need to work a day or two but want to come up with their family.” Reliable internet will also be important when guests need to communicate with you during their stay. 

5. Appealing to the broadest group

If you’re planning to rent out your cottage, your personal tastes may not be the first priority, Inniss says. Appealing to more potential renters means seeking out things like ample sleeping capacity, a winterized cottage for year-round use, parking for multiple cars and privacy from neighbouring properties.

“Even something being kid-friendly,” Inniss says. “Is it on a cliff, or are there a lot of stairs down to the water? That’s something you’d want to think about before renting.”

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