DIY Guide to Managing and Leasing a Vacation Rental

1. Find a Quality Vacation Rental Housecleaner

Finding a good house cleaner who will wash/change sheets, do the dishes and deep clean the property is the single most important thing you must do if you’re going to manage your own furnished home. The right house cleaners will report the condition of your property each time they clean and will act like a stager prior to new tenants moving in when you are not there.

You should be looking for someone who is great at cleaning houses, detail oriented, reliable, and resourceful. The house cleaner should report back to you after every guest about the condition of the house and potential problems you may need to address in the future.

2. Hire a reliable Handyman

Unlike long term rentals, you will likely receive calls several times a month asking how to work something or that something isn’t working. Find someone who lives close to your property and is really trustworthy to help you with quick fix items. If a guest calls with a complaint, your handyman is the one you should send over to the property to check everything out. If you have a pool or spa, you can usually find handymen to keep the chemical level at a safe level for you for around $85 a month.

3. Refine and Target Your Rental Marketing

You will need market your vacation home where potential guest can find your house and reach out to you direct to rent it. It can be a time consuming process to setup your marketing on all of the rental websites, however, Rent Ruby’s Rental Listing Syndication service can expose your rental listings to major websites like, AirBNB, VRBO, Homeaway, Craigslists, Zillow, Hotpads, Trulia and several other sites including local MLS services with just one click.

4. Set Up Your Own Rental Website

You should direct all potential guests to a rental listing website for your vacation home. Setting up a rental website is really inexpensive, and it has a lot of great benefits, too.

Fact Sheet: Many guest will call you and want to ask you a lot of questions about your property. To make things easier, you should come up with a fact sheet about your vacation home. On this fact sheet, it should answer any questions a potential guest might have, and you should be able to simply email this fact sheet over to a guest. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  1. You get the guest’s e-mail address, which you can use to stay in touch with them not only this year but in the years to come, and
  2. It saves you time from having to sit on the phone and answer the same questions over and over again.

Online Payments: Your website should be set up to take online payments. This will make your job much easier, as most homeowners charge a non-refundable deposit, and then 30 or 45 days prior to the arrival, the remaining balance is due. By setting up online payments, you can have your payment system track when the remaining balances are due and go ahead and automatically charge the guest.

Want an easy way to manage billing and create a website? Try

5. Come Up With a Pricing Strategy

If you are going to manage and market your own vacation home, you should come up with a strategy to maximize your income. The longer you own the property, the easier this becomes, but to start off during the really high seasons, you should have your prices at the upper end as compared to other comparable properties. During low season you should do just the opposite and be near the lower end. A pricing strategy is really simple: when there are more guests coming to your area than there are vacation homes, you should be near the upper end of the pricing scale, and when there are fewer guests, you should be near the lower rates. Not sure how much you should charge? Rent Ruby offers a free automated rental rate calculator and expected expenses and net profits. See

Managing and marketing your own vacation home is not hard, but it is time consuming. Remember, the guests are going to want to talk to you about your property before they rent, they will call you with many questions after they have paid the deposit, and they will definitely call you if they have a problem while they are staying in your house. You cannot put these calls off until after 5 p.m.; you will need to be able to take calls and handle situations during normal business hours.

I suggest anybody who is looking to manage their own vacation home to ease into it by having a property manager just look after the property and taking care of the guests while they are in town. This way you can do just the marketing of the property and concentrate solely on getting guests to stay in the house. Once you have the marketing under control, then you might expand your roll and handle all the customer service issues as well.