By Janice Bishop, owner of All-Season Cottage Rentals Inc
Having a rental property in your neighbourhood has transitioned from a rare occurrence to common practice. As the popularity of cottage rentals increase, so do the problems associated with rentals.
I have been a cottage rental agent for 20 years. Experience has taught some important lessons that I’m going to share with you.
Problems can be avoided if a rental is managed properly. Cottage rental agencies administer detailed legal contracts to protect your property and to outline your expectations from renters. Rental agencies also screen carefully to avoid troublesome groups.
However, if you plan to rent using an advertising service such as Airbnb or Vrbo, be aware that these are advertising services and not management companies. You will have to manage your renters and rental contracts on your own. I can’t stress this enough. These are advertising services and DO NOT administer rental agreements nor assist you if there is a problem.
It’s important to understand that renters are extremely anxious to please the owner of the cottage they have rented. However, they are often inexperienced at cottaging and need direction.
This is where the rental agreement comes in. It will itemize all of your expectations and consequences for not meeting your expectations. It gives a cottage owner and their neighbours recourse if a rental group misbehaves.
Here are some areas where renters need direction:
- Occupancy Limits – limit the number of people using your cottage based on the capacity of your septic. Pollutants can leech into the lake when a septic is over-used. It is your responsibility to make sure this doesn’t happen.
- Define Your Boundaries – let renters know where your property lines are so they don’t trespass on your neighbours.
- Noise Restrictions – city folk don’t always understand how noise travels in cottage country. It’s a good idea to ask renters to put out the campfire and move indoors at 11 pm.
- Fire Guidelines – provide campfire guidelines including instructions on dousing the fire at night and phone numbers for the MNR so they can check on fire bans.
- Garbage – renters are accustomed to garbage pick-up. They need to be educated on how you deal with garbage in cottage country. Don’t forget to tell them what to do with garbage between trips to the dump.
- Fireworks – I recommend that you totally ban the use of fireworks at your cottage. Many municipalities require permits for fireworks and guests would not be aware of local requirements.
- Emergency Services – leave your 911 address and emergency phone numbers near the telephone.
View the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Association website for more tips on Responsible Cottage Rental.