::How-To:: Rent Out Your Home
We rent out our home several times a year, during the Masters golf tournament, the Half-Ironman event in October and other, non-recurring periods from time-to-time. This can be a lucrative way to earn extra money to improve your home, but there is hard work required. That hard work often pays off with return visitors. We have several groups/families that have rented from us more than once.
Step One – Listing Your Home*
- Stage your home and take photos of each room. Make sure to highlight the room features well in the photo (e.g., good view of the bed in the bedroom)
- Decide what sites to list your home on: Airbnb, Craigslist, etc. Note that Airbnb does take a small fee from to your rental, but it also has insurance and user protection included with their services.
- Write a listing for your home. Include number of bedrooms and bathrooms and any amenities like cable, wifi, etc. For reference, check out some listings to get a feel for what to say/omit. Here is our listing on Airbnb, for reference.
- Utilize social media to publicize your listing (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest). Ask friends to share your listing, too.
Protecting Your Renter & Yourself
- It is very important that you communicate all details about your rental to your guest. The best way to do this is through a rental agreement that you provide via mail or email to your renter once they “book” your residence.
- Places like Airbnb protect you as part of their service, but if you use Craiglist, or another option without a built-in contract, you will NEED one. A good place to start is by searching the internet for rental agreements, temporary rental contracts, etc. A source I found was Homaway.
- Read over the agreement carefully and make sure that the dates and details you update on the generic template are all correct.
- Tip: require a signed agreement at the time they send a deposit.
Pricing & Payment
- Do your research when determining the price. Begin your listing EARLY to allow time for the most inquiries. We receive inquiries for Masters (April), via our Airbnb listing as early as October.
- In our experience, a deposit is required at the time of booking to hold the space and the payment in full or cancellation is generally due about 2-weeks prior to the guest’s stay.
- We prefer to receive a cashier’s check for the deposit and cash or another check just before arrival. When a renter wants to use Paypal, we indicate that they will be responsible for any fees incurred.
- It is important that you communicate a cancellation policy and make sure you can return a deposit in case of cancellation. You can word all of this in your rental agreement.
- Renting for Masters is the hardest undertaking. It requires a top-t0-bottom cleaning and organizing of our entire house, which can take 2-3 weeks. Paint is touched up, repairs are completed, windows are washed, blinds are dusted, etc. Your home should be PRISTINE… if you want return customers.
- We do not include maid service in our base fee for rental, but always communicate that it is available and how much it will cost. Then same can be said for leaving alcohol and/or groceries, ready for their arrival.
- If you have hidden appliances or trash cans, etc., label the cabinets or drawers that house them. For example, both our trash can and microwave are in cabinets, so I place a post-it, labeled accordingly, on each location.
- Update your listings and calendars often.
- We have specific guest linens (towels, sheets, etc.) that we keep in the attic for only the Masters renters. White is usually best (for bleaching). Pop a dryer sheet in each storage container to keep them fresh.
- Leave room in several drawers and a portion of the closet empty in each room that you rent out if they are staying more than 2-3 days. This allows your guest to “move in” a little. You can label empty drawers and closets with some ribbon or yarn.
- Leave detailed, typed-out instructions for your electronics.
- Leave them a few printed Google maps–leading them to the nearest grocery store, the golf course, the race location, etc.
- If you subscribe to the newspaper, leave them a copy of the current day and let them know that they are welcome to read them.
Those are the “basics.” I’m sure you are thinking it’s not very basic, and you are right. It’s tough work, but it is worth it. We’ve been doing it for years!