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This is the second part of our two-part guide to prepare your Cape Cod house for vacation renters in the spring. Part one is available here and covers the initial preparation. This one focuses on best practices.
After you have taken care of the basics as covered in Part 1 and ensured that your property is in good condition to greet your summertime renters. What else should you do?
One of the best ways to make a positive impression on the Cape Cod vacationers renting your house is to provide them with information about the local area and the house in a clear and orderly fashion. There should be a designated location near the main entry designated for these materials. This can include various guidebooks, brochures, and maps. Additional information should provide would be a map of the area, trail guides, theater & museum guides, beach pass information, trash disposal instructions, and the typical schedule for the landscaper and trash pick up. Clearly, post check-in and check-out times and include a checklist of what the tenants should do prior to their departure.
You can create a manual for your house with important information and frequently asked questions about the property and area. The answers and suggestions you make here can be very helpful to your renters. The more questions you can answer here, the better their stay will be and the fewer questions you will have to answer directly. This is a great way to create a positive impression. Some homeowners use a decorative binder for their house manual, others will have a hardback book custom printed (this has become inexpensive within the last few years). A hardbound book can also serve as a guestbook where you can provide pages for renters to sign and leave comments. This is a simple way to establish a connection between your property and your renters making them more likely to return to your house. You should create an electronic copy that can be sent to someone via email when they are inquiring about the property or making a booking
Some houses are served by sewer lines but many have septic systems on Cape Cod. If your house has a septic system make sure you explain what this means to your tenants. Explain what can and cannot go down the toilet and if only septic safe toilet paper should be used. We recommend doing this in your house manual and to post laminated signs next to the toilets. It is also a good idea to post a similar sign near the kitchen sink explaining that foods cannot be washed down the sink. Regardless of whether you have a septic system or a sewer connection make sure that your house has a plunger and drain opener in a child safe location just in case.
The Furies recommends that you stock your house with basic cleaning supplies for your renters to use. It is best to find a child safe location for these items. This lets them take care of small messes on their own and over the course of the summer your house will be left in better condition. If any part of your house requires a special product for cleaning or treatment, such as marble tiles, this should be clearly indicated to your renters. Items that you should provide, include a vacuum cleaner, some spare vacuum bags, a broom and dustpan, and your preferred cleaners for glass, carpets, bathrooms and kitchens; trash can liners, laundry detergent, dish soap, and dishwasher detergent, as well as individually wrapped sponges, a dish rack and a laundry basket. Also, do not forget to check in with your Cape Cod house cleaners from time to time to ensure that everything is going smoothly. It only takes a few minutes! Clear communication is the foundation of any successful relationship.
One issue that has only recently become a concern is in regards to in home security systems. Many modern security systems include interior cameras. These absolutely must be turned off prior to your renters taking up occupancy in your house. If they are on while the house is rented it could be considered a criminal offense in Massachusetts. Also, put yourself in their place, how would you feel about being recorded in a home you have rented especially without your knowledge. When someone rents a house there is an expectation of privacy and it’s your responsibility as a homeowner to ensure that these expectations are met.
Finally, you should think about how linens such as sheets and towels are handled at your property. The Furies provides linen rentals from Dennis to Truro. Many renters cannot bring the amount of linens required for a large house. Some homeowners and many tenants make use our linen rental services with doorstep delivery and pick up 7 days a week. It is a convenient option to recommend to your renters.
Every spring the Furies Cleaning Service and Linen Rentals performs hundreds of Spring Cleanings and over the course of the summer cleans numerous second homes and vacation properties on Cape Cod. The Furies have been serving property owners and tenants alike for over 30 years, giving us a unique perspective on how to build and maintain successful relationships.
This is the first part of our two-part guide on preparing your property for seasonal vacationers. The second part is available here.
It is vital to prepare your Cape Cod property prior to the arrival of your first renters. The last thing you want is for a tenant to arrive and find your house unprepared. When it comes to renting your house and getting repeat tenants first impressions count. Make sure that your house makes a good one! If you have not already done so, now is the time to make all the necessary arrangements.
The two most critical things to get your house ready are;
- Make sure all the utilities are on.
- Having the house spring cleaned.
We recommend having the utilities turned on, at least, two weeks prior to the spring cleaning. This gives your service people ample time to deal with any unexpected problems prior to the cleaning. Just because a house was not used in the off-season does not mean it is ready for a tenant. A good spring cleaning is an in-depth cleaning to remove all of the dust, cobwebs, and dead bugs that have accumulated over the off-season. This can be tailored to your individual needs. Depending on your house it may be prudent to get your carpets and upholstery steam cleaned or your windows washed. Typically we recommend that the windows be cleaned after the pollen season. Right after a spring cleaning completed is the perfect time to stage your house and update the photos for your listings.
A visual inspection of the property should be done before the spring cleaning. Check for any damage incurred over the off-season or for evidence of mice. If you have a caretaker, property manager or someone performing a property watch, they will generally perform this each time they check a property. In the case that significant evidence of mice is found you should contact an exterminator as soon as possible and ask them their opinion on the extent of the infestation and whether you should have your insurance company take a look at the house. Each year, The Furies finds a few homes that have been severely damaged by mice, some of which have had to be completely gutted and rebuilt. Houses near marshes are especially at risk. If your house has a history of mice issues you should consider establishing a service schedule with an exterminator.
If you are updating appliances, furniture, or having any work done to the house this should be done prior to a spring cleaning. Perhaps you are having a significant amount of work done. The Furies offer specialized post construction cleaning services. When you update the look of your house make sure that you update the pictures on your online listings.
To ensure that a renter gets off to a good start before they even set foot in the house there are a few of things to be mindful of. Make sure that your house’s street numbers are clearly visible and easily seen from the street. If your house sits back from the street, it should have a sign at the start of the driveway as well as numbers on the house itself. Some tenants arrive after dark and it is important that your house is clearly identifiable. If needed your driveway should be brushed out and any low hanging tree limbs removed from the driveway and parking area. One of the surest ways to get someone’s vacation off to a bad a start is for them to pull into an overgrown driveway and badly scratch their vehicle. Also, if you have wooden walkways, steps, decks or other wooden walking areas they should be checked to see if they have algae on it. Algae can pose a significant safety hazard as it can get extremely slippery when wet. To prevent an accidental injury these areas should be power washed. The Furies can arrange for this.
Finally, we recommended that your house uses a single key for all your doors or install a knob with a punch code. You should not have 4 separate keys for four separate doors as this can cause confusion and frustration. Be sure that your service providers have current copies of your keys as needed. If you have one locked section of your house used for personal storage it is best to clearly indicate this to your renters. Additionally, if your house is near the water, the salt air can cause corrosion or blow sand into the locks, making them difficult to open. Consider having the locks cleaned and lubricated if they are getting sticky or have not been serviced in a while. Perhaps you have a key that is tricky, such as jiggling it “just so.” Usually, this is the result of getting copies of copies of copies of keys. In this case have a locksmith rekey the locks and cut a number of new keys for you. This will save you and your tenants a great deal of unnecessary grief.