Thanks to sites like Airbnb, renting out your beach home is an easy and effective way to plump up funds for your own vacation. But if you’re a newbie landlord, prepping your house can be tricky. Here, 10 steps to vacation rental success.

By Bradley Nesbitt Weatherly
July 14, 2017

Hal and Mary Quayle fell in love with this 100-year-old cottage on Bailey Island, Maine, and after some simple touch-ups, turned it into a cozy hideaway with thrilling views. They embraced the cottage’s quirky character and celebrated its aged-to-perfection charm.

Photo: Jean Allsopp

1. Define your audience.

The first step to renting is deciding what type of renter you’re comfortable with having in your home. Rental sites typically let you set audience parameters, such as non-smokers, adults-only or pet-friendly (and of course, less restrictions means more eyes on your listing).


2. Block weekends.

Most people who rent their beach home also enjoy it for personal use. So before you open up your rental calendar, don’t forget to make sure the days you plan on staying there are blocked off for guests.

Related: 5 Ways to Make a Vacation House Pay for Itself

3. Ask about insurance.

While it’s unlikely to happen, damage to your home during a renter’s stay can wreak havoc without the proper insurance. Many traditional homeowners policies require additional coverage if a home is used for long- or short-term rentals (it may depend on frequency and length of stays). Either way, it’s best to check your own policy before opening your doors.


4. Have a homeowners’ closet.

Instead of hauling your personal belongings back and forth between trips, keep items you don’t want renters seeing or using (like family photos, toiletries and nice bottles of wine) in a locked storage closet or attic.


5. Stock indestructible materials.

Wine glasses and china are the most often replaced items in rental properties. Instead of leaving your delicate glassware, stock your kitchen with plates and glasses made of a more durable material  – such as melamine or acrylic – which are more likely to outlast the wear and tear of kids and large groups. If you think wine glasses are classier, go for the stemless variety. See more of our beach house must-haves for entertaining here.


6. Always have extras.

Even with durable materials, it isn’t uncommon after a busy rental season for homeowners to have to ponder the case of the disappearing tumblers. Rather than replace lost flatware and drinkware, buy extras in the beginning so you can replenish at the end of the year (plus, renters will be able to accommodate larger groups). Invest in a double set of sheets for each room, too. Then, while one is being laundered, the other can be put immediately onto beds. Bonus: It also extends the life of your linens.


7. Keep a photo record.

Before you rent your house, take photos of the way you want each room to look so housekeeping can refer back. (That way, linens, towels, and bedding won’t get mixed up between rooms.) It can also serve as a record to keep track of any misplaced items post-season.


8. Block personal passwords.

Many smart TVs have passwords for apps like Netflix, Amazon Fire, and AppleTV auto-saved. To prevent unexpected charges on your credit card, make sure to block or disable any account in which movies and media can be accidentally purchased by renters.


9. Make information accessible.

On the first day of each renter’s stay, leave (or have the cleaning service leave) a paper with emergency contact numbers, a wifi code and any other house instructions in an easy-to-find place, such as the dining room table. If there are house phones, leave a paper with the address, phone number and gate code (if applicable) nearby.


10. Leave a guest book.

When you open a vacation home, you’re also opening the door for others to make the same type of memories you’ve made in the past with your family. Invite your guests to share their experiences, thoughts, and recommendations in a guest book. It’s a great way to connect with those who’ve stayed in your home (if you can’t meet them in person). Plus, you might gain a friend – or at least some new intel into your vacation hometown.