A Guest Guide: Renting a Home The Right Way


Making the decision to rent out your condo, cottage or vacation home for the first time? You probably have few questions and probably some anxiety. Whether you’ve had your house for a few years and now are ready to rent it for additional income or you’ve purchased an investment property specifically for this purpose, renting a home for profit should be handled professionally with as minimal stress as possible.

When deciding to open your second home to guests, a guest guide can be an essential tool for both you and your tenants; it’s definitely worth spending time to get it right. Learn what you need to have in place before they arrive so you can feel confident you’re running a lucrative operation.

A Guest Guide: Renting a Home the Right Way

Your guest guide should be orderly and laid out like a directory with an organized index. At your rental, consider using a folder with plastic sleeves to protect the pages. This will allow you to update information as necessary. And before guests arrive, send an electronic version to allow for any questions ahead of time.

Include the following information:

  1. Organized index that lists what’s within the guide.
  2. Friendly welcoming and introduction to the area.
  3. Arrival information including location of keys, WiFi password, where to park, and any other immediate need-to-know information such as where the circuit breaker is located.
  4. Important contact details for you, the property manager and emergency service numbers.
  5. Emergency section including legal description of your property to allow emergency services find your location, nearest hospital, closest walk-in clinic, location of first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, smoke alarms, flashlights, etc.
  6. Clear instructions for operating appliances, fireplaces, barbecue, or any quirky aspects of operating other equipment.
  7. General “rules” of use for pools and hot tubs along with recommended operating temperatures.
  8. Policies on pets, smoking, visitors, cleanup, telephone usage, fire pits, etc.
  9. Dates and details about garbage collection and recycling.
  10. Location and approximate distance of the nearest grocery store, gas station mall, movie theater, and a list of recommended restaurants.
  11. Community information on local activities, tourist information as well as a calendar of events.
  12. Departure information including check-out time, how you want the place cleaned, where you want the key and any other locking-up instructions.

Handling Emergencies

Before renting a home, determine who will look after the property when you’re not there. At the outset, you may be happy enough to drive back to your second home for a few hours on a weekend to do a clean-up before the next renter arrives, but it may not be feasible in the long run. Keep in mind that taking care of the property alone can come at a price. It might be worth hiring a cleaning service.

In the case of an emergency situation, the most important thing you can do is be prepared for the inevitable. You must have someone close by who can represent your property. Hire a property manager or a caretaker and supply a list of local repair companies they can call.

Renting a Home for Profit

If your ultimate goal in renting a vacation home is to increase its potential for profitability, get ready to look at your home from a different point of view. In order for your rental to work, you have to run it like a savvy business owner. You must prepare your home to provide everything your renter needs and expects for a top-quality rental experience. At the same time you must cover all the necessary policies and procedures for a successful and smooth rental transaction.

Guests have more rental choices than ever before. Your ability to wow them right away by providing clear information will positively influence the number of repeat bookings and referrals you receive.