If you want to make some cash while on vacation this summer, why not rent out your pad? We asked Bill Furlong, North American V.P. of HomeAway, just how much effort is needed to make your house habitable for renters. As the company behind rental sites like VRBO – and with over 1.2 million homes on their books – they know a thing or two about getting this stuff right. The bad news? You are gonna have to clean the fridge.
Clean Up Your Filth
“People who are renting a vacation home definitely want it to be very clean. A lot of owners have them professionally cleaned. Think about it—the guests we’re attracting are people who are familiar with staying in hotels. The question is, how clean are hotels? Think of that as the competition, and the standard to achieve.”
Suck It Up and Get Cable
Sorry, cord-cutters—a lot of people still watch regular TV. “People expect Wi-Fi first and foremost, but I’d say if you took a poll, they’d also expect to have cable. If you don’t have cable, that’s something to disclose in your listing. You don’t want someone to give you a bad review because their kids couldn’t watch their favorite show.”
Take Out the You-Know-What
If your house has vice items – weed, guns, circus porn – get it out of there. “Get rid of anything dangerous. Vacation rental homes are often occupied by families, so you should be cautious.” It’s best to lock up the booze, too, although a bottle of wine left as a gift is a sure way to get an extra star on your review.
Ditch the Family Photos
“Most travelers aren’t going to want to go into a home that’s packed to the gills with your own personal family and friends’ photos. You don’t have to go on a rampage and purge it of any sign of your family – one photo adds a personal touch, but 25 is a little over the top.”
Toss Your Salad
“Leave the fridge as empty as possible. Keep salt, pepper, spices – that’s a convenience. But leave the fridge empty of perishables.” Invest in decent pans and serve-ware, too. “Families often rent a vacation home because they want a meal together without spending a couple hundred dollars. You need to make sure the right utensils are there for that.”
Replace those Novelty Bed Sheets
A good cleaning is all that’s required for most sheets and towels, but if your bed’s still rocking that wicked-sweet Han Solo comforter, you might want to invest in some new ones. “If your linens are particularly quirky, you might want to acquire a new set—just from an aesthetic standpoint.”
Create a Safe Space
Don’t shift all your junk—just throw it in a closet and lock it. “Most people have an owner’s closet behind lock and key—it’s very standard in the vacation industry. Although if it’s your great-grandmother’s sapphire diamond, you might want to take that with you.” This closet can also be used for storing all your non-perishable kitchen items.
Scrub the Toiletries
First step: Clean out the medicine cabinet. “No prescription medicine, no 10-year-old stuff with rusted caps—that’s grimy.” Then be sure you’re stocked up. “It’s nice to show up and find the appropriate items, unused. People aren’t expecting a mint on the counter, but they’re very grateful that there’s new shampoo, conditioner and liquid soap.”
Don’t Get Caught With Your Pants Down
Remember, you should always take precautions. “When you rent out your home, think about things like appropriate insurance. Your regular home insurance isn’t a commercial insurance, so it won’t cover you when you’re renting it out if there’s property damage.” Wait, what did you think we meant?