First Time Renters: A Guide to Renting A Vacation Home

First Time Renters: A Guide to Renting A Vacation Home

Posted by Anastasiia Doroshenko on

Do you own a vacation home and consider renting it out for a few days or months a year? Well, we can't blame you. From a financial perspective, it's a smart decision. But if you're renting out your home as a vacation rental for the first time, it can be overwhelming. 

The good news is that in 2023, you can automate most of the process.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll try to answer the most pressing questions when listing your home on Airbnb, Vrbo, or other vacation rental platforms.

We'll talk about where to store your personal belongings before you store your personal belongings before you decide to rent your vacation home and different ways to maintain the house while you're out of town.


Things to Consider Before you Rent Out your Vacation Home for the First Time

Renting your home is never an easy decision. The truth is that most of us are not fans of sharing the sanctuary we've created with others. However, if we can get past those emotions, renting your home provides you with a stable, passive income.

Additionally, being a host gives you an excellent opportunity to meet and mingle with people from all over the world.


So, as with any decision, renting out your vacation home has specific pros and cons. To decide whether this is the best way to go, you'll want to think through the following questions:

  • Does the math work? Renting out your second home has certain expenses (maintenance, taxes, insurance, repairs, amenities, and so on). Finding out precisely what the costs of managing the home are will help you determine whether this is an intelligent financial decision or not. 
  • Can you rent your home based on rental rules, regulations, and taxes? The law, codes, and restrictions depend on your location.  So, it is essential to look at any conditions you may have based on your state’s taxes and current rental rules. Beyond that, some counties and cities also have regulations you must consider. So make sure you quickly search online to see what rules, laws, and regulations apply to you. 
  • Do you have the time to manage your property? Platforms like Airbnb, Vrbo, or HomeAway make booking and communication easier. However, you’ll still need to spend significant time managing the whole renting process. If you don’t have the time or resources to do this yourself, you should consider hiring a company to manage everything on your behalf. You can find property management companies dedicated to managing short-term vacation rentals. They usually cost between 10% - 25% of your rental income, depending on how much of the responsibilities you want to offload to them. 
  • Is your vacation home ready to be rented? In most cases, you will need to furnish, decorate and equip your home to accommodate the needs of a vacation property renter. Remember that your personal preferences might not match the typical vacationer's, so you'll want to consider furniture, decor, and appliances. 

By renting out your home, you automatically enter the travel industry. And this is one of the most competitive yet rewarding industries out there. But this is why you need to be methodical.

Let’s look at the steps you must follow before renting your home for the first time. 


Renting Out Your Vacation Home in 7 Simple Steps

Determining that renting out your home is a wise financial decision is just the first step of the process. To succeed, you must be methodical and follow some pretty straightforward steps. 


1. Conduct Research: Regulations, Tax, and Insurance Requirements 

Researching the current rental rules and taxes is one of the first things you should do before renting out your vacation home. First, you should start with your homeowners' association (HOA) if you have one. In San Diego, many of the condos downtown do not permit short-term vacation rentals or do permit them but for minimum increments of 30 days.

From there, you'll want to check the city and county rules around short-term vacation rentals. For example, do you need a special permit or license to rent your home? Is there a lottery process and a limitation on the number of short-term vacation rental properties in each zip code? 

The truth is that not all cities, counties, and states have the same laws when it comes to home rental. Therefore, make sure you do your due diligence. This will help you avoid unnecessary fines related to violating restrictions.

Additionally, look into your insurance policy and remember that your standard homeowners' insurance will rarely cover you when renting your property. This is why finding proper short-term rental insurance is more than necessary. 


2. Conduct Maintenance Inspection

Once you have completed the tax-related research mentioned above, you can start preparing your home for renting. However, in most cases, vacation homes need some maintenance before they are ready for renting.

To identify the maintenance needs of your property, all you need to do is an inspection. 

In just a few hours, you will be able to determine what’s needed to be fixed and generate an average required budget for the maintenance.

Everything should be included in this initial inspection, from checking the roof, plumbing, and decks to ensuring that appliances and mechanical systems work correctly.   


3. Move your Personal Belongings - Storage Options

While conducting the maintenance inspection, you can also start thinking about the personal items you’d like to move.

On multiple occasions, our vacation homes are full of personal belongings that we don't want our renters to have access to.

The smart idea is to move your personal belongings somewhere secure and off-premises. Then, of course, you could ask friends and family for help, but that can sometimes be frustrating and unreliable. 

This is particularly true if you want to rent your property for an extensive period. 

The good news is that short-term vacation rental property owners have two options in San Diego:

  1. Juujbox Vacation Rental Storage: We offer a solution designed specifically for vacation rental owners that provides a secure and flexible storage solution to keep your private belongings while renting your home. Juujbox will provide you with storage bins that you can fill with your items and will come and pick those storage bins up and securely store them in their storage facility. Then, once you're back in town, you can contact them to have your items back at your home and in front of the door without visiting a storage unit. Prices start at $14.95 a month for one large storage bin. This is the best choice if you want an inexpensive, safe solution to store your private belongings while renting your vacation home. 
  2. Traditional Storage Units: Even though renting a storage unit is more expensive and less flexible than Juujbox, it is probably your only option to store large items such as furniture and home equipment. It is also the only alternative available if you live outside San Diego.

4. Decorate and Stock your Vacation Home Accordingly

After mapping out a maintenance schedule, conducting the necessary fixes, and storing your personal belongings somewhere else, you will be ready to decorate and stock your vacation home.

Home design is one of the essential things when attracting travelers. 

Creating an appealing interior and exterior home design is the best way to ensure that your property will have a lot of bookings and that guests will be satisfied with your vacation home.

The appropriate decoration depends on multiple factors, such as your target audience, location, and available space. 

If you have any unique features in your home, be sure to highlight them. Anything you can make Instagram-worthy is worth it. It'll attract more renters to your home. 

Consider using fashionable yet durable furniture. Unfortunately, some people won't treat your home with the same sensitivity you do, so it's good to have couches, chairs, etc., that can stand the test of time. 

In addition to the above, you will also need to create an instruction manual for the items you have on your property and create at least one duplicate of your home keys.

Regarding stocking, you can also think of innovative ways to provide information about local events, restaurants, sightseeing, etc. Anything you can do to make the experience memorable will mean another positive review for your property, which means more people want to rent it. 


5. Creating a Team: Housekeeping and Third-party Contractors

Having a team of professional house cleaners and third-party contractors such as electricians, pool cleaners, and plumbers is what sets a first-class accommodation apart from its competitors.

In other words, you need to assemble a team of professionals to ensure that your property is always clean and in good technical condition.

Of course, the housekeeping team will likely be the only professionals you need to hire to do the day-to-day work.

However, top-notch contractors should also be on your speed dial if you want your accommodation to be well-organized. 

If you use a property management company, they will typically handle all the items above. 


6. Photograph your Vacation Home

We can't stress enough how vital taking professional photos of your home is when renting your property. 

Once you've prepared everything else we've discussed, it is time to take care of the marketing aspect of your efforts. In most cases, landlords invest in professional photographers.

The reason for this is simple. The better you present your accommodation, the more bookings you will get.

Having a great first impression is crucial because you won't have any reviews yet to back your listing up. Once the renters start coming through, it's up to you to get excellent reviews from your guests.

Other tools you can use to present your vacation home are videos and virtual tours.


7. List your Property 

The final step is to list your property. 

Before choosing the platforms in which your vacation home will be listed, you should craft a comprehensive rental description. 

This description will be the best way (apart from the photos) to explain precisely what your home offers guests.

This is, therefore, a unique opportunity to sell the perks of your accommodation and interact with potential guests for the first time. 

After you have crafted a spotless description, you can then start looking for the best listing sites that you can use to showcase your vacation home.

Some popular options are Airbnb, Booking, American Snowbird, Cottages, and Vrbo.

Each site comes with its advantages and disadvantages. So that you know, you can list your property on more than one platform.  


Wrap Up

In this guide, we have analyzed everything you need to pay attention to before renting your home as a vacation rental.

We've covered everything from moving your personal belongings to a storage facility like Juujbox, photographing your home, and hiring a team of professional housekeepers and contractors.

If one thing is sure, it's that good organization will help you automate the entire process and ensure that your rental home gets the bookings it deserves. 

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