Using your cottage property as an income opportunity means having to claim any rental fees as income on your taxes. To avoid surprises at tax time, do your research. A call to your accountant can end up saving you both money and frustration. Track and claim everything to avoid the dreaded audit come spring.
A major source of concern when renting out your property is knowing whether the renter will treat it with the same respect you do. Put personal items behind closed doors and make sure that large-ticket items like boats are excluded or charged for use. Make sure you have short-term rental insurance coverage, which select Canadian insurers now offer by day. Always set clear and concise rules in the rental agreement that guests must agree to before booking. You can also ask for a damage deposit to protect your property, and you can screen your renters with a simple set of standard questions before accepting a booking.
Try to account for as many contingencies as possible. For instance, if you expect your renters to use your watercraft or off-road vehicles, make sure your policy covers claims resulting from this use. If not, you will need to acquire additional coverage.
A SECURE PAYMENT SYSTEM
Fraud is a very real concern for both property owners and renters. Use a reputable rental website with a secure payment system that protects both the owner and renter from fraud by holding the renter payment and paying the owner only after the renter checks in safely. Reputable booking platforms have a safety advantage over customer-to-customer marketplaces or classified transactions, which often rely on offline payment solutions with no tracking mechanisms and in-person meetups.
The internet is a big and sometimes scary place. There are countless sites offering the same services, and it can be tricky to know where to turn. Do your due diligence and make sure the platform you list on can provide you the support you need, offers secure online payment, and will bring you the types of renters you’re looking for.
BOOKING SYSTEM, AVAILABILITY & TURNOVER
There are rental agencies and property management companies that will do the work for you, for a fee or percentage. Like a hotel, they regulate your preferred check-ins and check-outs. You can state upfront that guests can check in only on certain days or after a certain hour, and that they need to be out by a specific time.
You also need to decide on how to clean and restock the cottage between guest parties - will you do this yourself, or hire an outside company or person to handle it?
ADVERTISING - IT'S IN THE DETAILS
When describing your cottage, be specific about location, number of bedrooms, water depth, beach or not, amenities such as a dishwasher or watercraft as well as the number of stairs from the dock to the cottage. If the property has a steep slope, say so. Include house rules about number of guests, pets, noise, lights, use of firewood and the current township status re fires. Itemize the recreation equipment that is available and permitted for renter use.
COTTAGE INFORMATION KIT
An information kit should include details such as to where they can find the hot water tank, circuit breaker panel, first aid equipment, phone book, as well as fire and other alarms. List the maintenance equipment, kitchen appliances, bathroom facilities, and any boats and equipment that will be made available.
It is also important to instruct guests regarding legal and safety conditions, much of which can be found on this website. They will need easy access to local regulations and emergency numbers. Include instructions for garbage and recycle disposal, and what must NOT be flushed into the septic system. Be sure your guests know about noise, wake, fireworks and other good neighbour "codes of conduct" when at the cottage. The more information they have at the beginning, the less likely they are to call you after they arrive -- and the less likely you are to receive complaints from your neighbours about loud or messy renters. But be sure to leave a number they can reach you 24/7. For convenient downloadable posters to remind guests of basic protocols, visit CHA.
GET READY TO RECEIVE GUESTS!
As a courtesy, let your close neighbours know you have rented your cottage. They may be a useful ally if your renters have questions or concerns. Many renters are families so they will be looking for a childproof cottage free of hidden hazards. Be sure you have railings on the deck and even little things like a mat in the shower can prevent problems later. Turn on the water and power, check all pipes, fuses and appliances and clean the place. Be clear with your renters whether you expect them to leave the cottage as they found it or not. Leave supplies and directions if you expect them to clean up at the end of their stay.