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Getting Your Vacation Rental Ready for Guests

Every summer I look forward to visiting my home by the beach in New Jersey.

As much as I love the house, the summer and the beach, maintaining the home isn't a simple job. After my husband and I make the nearly two-hour drive to our summer home, there's always work to be done.
 
Every summer I look forward to visiting my home by the beach in New Jersey.

As much as I love the house, the summer and the beach, maintaining the home isn't a simple job. After my husband and I make the nearly two-hour drive to our summer home, there's always work to be done.

Sometimes that work can include standard cleaning and repairs, but other times there are bigger projects that lead to even bigger headaches. For example, I spent eight weeks this summer trying to get our freezer repaired; a job that was only completed after contacting the president of the freezer company.

We also were disappointed by two different contractors — one contacted to build an outdoor shower and the other, a tree specialist, contacted to check on a gorgeous tree in front of our property that looked diseased. We reached out and then never heard from them again. It made us long for the days when service providers took pride in their work, showed up and did the job.

With all this in mind, Travelers Insurance provided us with some tips for vacation rental managers who are preparing their seasonal property for the onset of guests. Realizing that you may also have year-round occupancy, we have suggestions for taking care of your property's care issues before they become a problem when renting time begins.

Travelers Insurance offers these tips for preparing a seasonal vacation home:
 
  1. Make sure the home seems occupied year-round.
You'll want to deter thieves or break-ins while your property is unoccupied. Install an alarm system and store valuables off-site.

Along with additional security features, be sure to make the home seem occupied as well. Place motion-detector lights on the outside of the home and lamps on timers on the inside. If they come on at different times of day, it will deter prowlers. Have someone come by to collect flyers or any other items that get left on the front door. If your rental property is in an area that gets snow in the winter, hire someone to shovel your sidewalk after storms.
 
  1. Avoid water damage.
If your property is a single home, you may want to consider turning off the water supply to the property and draining your pipes if no one will be using them for a length of time. If the rental is heated by an older steam-heating system, talk with a heating professional to see if it's safe to cut off the water supply.

If you decide against draining your pipes, keep your furnace running at 55 degrees Fahrenheit or higher to make sure the pipes don't freeze.
 
  1. Perform routine maintenance before winter arrives.
Hire a professional to inspect your heating system before winter, and have someone check on the system during the winter. Have your roof inspected, make sure your gutters are clean to prevent ice from building up and remove dead trees or large limbs that could cause damage your property.
 
  1. Chase away pests.
Give the rental a thorough cleaning before winter comes to prevent pests from moving in while the property is empty. Clean, defrost and unplug refrigerators, and leave the doors open to prevent mildew from forming if you will not be renting for some time.

Inspect your property to look for openings animals could use to enter. If you have a fireplace, make sure the flue is closed to prevent squirrels, birds and bats from getting indoors. You may also want to have the chimney cleaned to clear away obstructions such as birds' nests.

Pleasing customers should be a top priority. These tips will help you do so.  

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