Renting your cottage out in Muskoka
Cottagers LOVE it in Muskoka, but they can’t be there all the time. A busy life, a demanding job, travel plans… all of these things can pull you away from God’s country and leave your cottage occasionally sitting empty.
This can be a challenge for existing cottage owners, and even a stumbling block for people who are looking to buy their first cottage but are unsure if they’ll use it enough to justify the investment. All of this brings people to ask one simple question:
“What’s the rental market like in Muskoka?”
I can count on getting this question at least once a week, and I always give the same answer:
I own a cottage but I can’t always use it, so we rent it out, and we have been for the last 12 years.
We work with a local, reputable company that cares as much about our cottage as we do and has established systems to find the right guests at the right times, and we’ve never once had a problem.
Here are some tips of things you should do when renting out your cottage.
1. Make sure you have insurance.
You specifically need to ask your insurance company to ensure you are covered for renters and their activities – make sure all of your property is covered, from the cottage, to the land, to the dock, and any other buildings or features you own.
Because finding the right insurance company can be challenging, I would recommend finding a local company – they understand rural properties, and sometimes your city insurer can make things both difficult and really expensive.
2. Find a Cottage Rental Company
Interview some cottage rental companies and see which one is a good fit for you and your cottage.
Some owners like a city rental company or an online only company, and others want a local company who is family-focused and knows the area. This comes down to your preference, but be sure to do your research before signing on with anyone.
3. Make your cottage warm and inviting
Everyone has different preferences when it comes to the look and feel of their cottage, but you can easily create a whole new atmosphere that your renters will love by paying attention to a few details.
For example, if the cottage is older with a lot of wood, try painting the walls or the ceiling a nice clean white and watch the cottage transform. Add in some colourful pillows and some cool furniture and you will have a rental cottage that guests will come back to year after year.
4. Book your cleaners early
I can’t stress this one enough.
The key to successfully renting your cottage is having it deep cleaned twice a year and in between each rental. Making sure this happens, however, requires some planning, and you must book early.
It might seem silly because cleaners are generally easy to find close to home, but in cottage country cleaners and cleaning companies are booked a year in advance. If you’re planning to rent out your cottage at any time in the future, you’ll want to start talking to cleaning companies right away to ensure you get the right one for you, your cottage and (ultimately) your renters.
5. Make it fun for your guests
Buy some games, get some water toys, and let your guests have the best time. We have kayaks for our guests and an aluminum boat and our guests love it, but they’ve also spent many hours playing Balderdash and Risk on rainy days.
**Make sure to include paddles for the boats, and if you have any motorized toys, be sure to talk to your insurance company before making them available to guests
6. Make sure the waterfront is useable
One of the biggest features of a Muskoka cottage is the waterfront and the lake. If you need to repair the dock or clean up the waterfront from debris, make sure you spend the time and the money to have everything in ship shape before your first guests arrive.
7. Communicate Well
When you advertise something, make sure it is accurate. If the TV or dishwasher is broken and you don’t have time to get it fixed, tell your guests in advance so that they are not disappointed and upset when they get there.
8. Name your cottage
I love naming cottages – it personalizes them, and guests love that. Get a sign made just for your cottage that tells them they’re in for an experience that can’t be found anywhere else.
9. Hire a handyman
Find someone who can take care of your cottage. You don’t want a phone call that your guests don’t have water late on a Saturday night! We have a handyman that lives down the road from our cottage, and we depend on him all summer. It adds an extra bit of security for guests, and let’s you rest easy knowing that you’re prepared for unexpected emergencies.
10. Get 2 coffee makers!
I’m not the kind of person to say you need to have two of everything, but I learned the hard way that you can’t take chances when it comes to coffee! My coffee maker carafe cracked on a Sunday morning, and while my guests where really patient, they were also somewhat disappointed because they wanted their coffee on the dock. After frantically running out to find a replacement, I made sure always to have a spare on hand!
Do you rent out your cottage? What tips would you share with someone looking to get started? Share your stories in the comments below.
If you are looking to rent out your cottage, call us we would love to hear from you.
Thank you Andres Iga for the picture.