Many snowbirds have been agonizing for months now about whether or not they will head somewhere warm for all or part of the coming winter.
For those who own vacation properties and have decided they are definitely not going – or are delaying going until the spring – one option available is to rent out their property.
Renting out your property can provide many benefits, including offsetting some of the cost of a winter home that you will not be using, as well as having your home lived in and the plumbing and appliances used regularly so that you don’t end up with problems caused by too many months of the home sitting empty.
However, many snowbirds fled their winter home in a hurry last March and left many personal belongings behind.
Fortunately, there are solutions for everything! Here are some things to think about if you are considering renting out your winter home:
How to get your place ready to rent when you’re not there
If you weren’t thinking about renting your place out when you returned to Canada last spring, you likely left a number of personal items in your closets, drawers, bathroom and fridge. But there are ways to deal with that with a little help!
If you have a home watch person or service, ask them about packing up your personal items and either a) locking them in one closet on the property or b) supervising a moving company to move them into an air-conditioned storage unit.
Your fridge will also have to be emptied and cleaned and any other personal belongings - such as office contents, night table contents and family photos - will need to be packed up. And be sure to ask them to lock away any other items that you consider valuable or you don’t want your tenant to use.
Most renters will want assurances that your place has been deep cleaned, so have your home watch provider help arrange for this as well. You’ll also want another deep clean after your tenant departs, so include the cost for this in your rental agreement.
Deciding on how much to charge
This is definitely not a normal year, so looking at historical rental prices likely isn’t the best way to come up with a fair rental price for your vacation property. In some areas, vacation property rents are depressed because there’s more availability than usual, while in other areas, it’s the opposite.
Try to get a sense of what a unit or home like yours is currently renting for in your area by looking at ads on various websites such as VRBO, Home Away, Airbnb, etc… You can also ask local property management companies or real estate agents who handle rentals.
Finding a renter
There are many websites such as VRBO, Home Away and Airbnb where you can list your place. However, you will need recent, quality photos of your property for your listing. If you don’t have any, you may need to arrange a photo shoot.
Additional options include vacation rental groups on Facebook where you can post your property, posting it on your own social media and asking friends and family to share and asking someone to put up signs in your community.
You can also put your property in the hands of a professional real estate agent who specializes in rentals in your community.
Rental agreement & cancellation terms
It’s important to have a formal rental agreement. There are many templates online and you will want to ensure that you include deposit and rental terms, cancellation policies, damage deposit, what’s included or excluded, start and end dates, etc…
Don’t forget the tax man!
If you rent out your property you will be required to declare this income in Canada - and with the IRS, if your property is located in the U.S.
See additional tax and legal tips for renting out your property here.
If you are still thinking of possibly going to your winter home for March and April, you can still rent your place from November thru February to help cover a good portion of your annual costs.
The Bottom Line
Renting your place out this winter could be a great option to help you save some expenses and avoid having your place sit empty for too long. However, it does require a little more planning and creativity due to COVID-19.
You can find our full guide to renting out your winter vacation property here.