Gone for now are the days of sunscreen, sand and surf. But the offseason is the perfect time to make sure your rental properties are in tip-top shape for summer 2020. Preparation is key for your vacation rental business.
Whether it’s cleaning the gutters or buying some new bedding, the tasks you cross off your list now will make for happier guests in the summer—and position you for success in the long run. And if your property will remain unoccupied for the next few months, these steps are even more crucial to help prevent any costly damage. As an added bonus, getting repairs done before the New Year can have benefits in the form of tax deductions.
The experts at Vantage have put together some helpful year-end tips for property owners to help you cover all the bases. Learn more about all the services Vantage offers to manage, maintain and market your vacation rental.
Routine Checks and Maintenance
You’ll probably have dozens of guests renting your property over the course of a year. Keeping them safe should be everyone’s No. 1 priority. Start your off-season preparation by checking that carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are working properly, and replace batteries if needed.
Security systems are always a good idea, especially if you can’t check on your unoccupied vacation rental frequently. You should also take steps to make your home look occupied to avoid break-ins and theft. Install outdoor motion sensor lights, set indoor lights on timers to go on and off, and don’t let newspaper deliveries or mail accumulate around the front door.
Do all windows and doors close properly? Are there any loose boards on stairs or railings? Any paint that needs to be touched up? Now’s the time to check.
You could benefit from offseason specials with local contractors and small business trades. During winter months, these businesses frequently charge less than big companies to handle jobs such as painting, minor maintenance and carpentry.
Preparing for Cold Weather
Temperatures can turn frigid in a hurry in Ocean City. Before you lock up for the season, test run your heating system by setting the thermostat to 80 degrees and making sure warm air blows through the vents.
While you’re at it, replace the air filter and clean the heating vents to ensure it’s emitting at maximum efficiency. You should also clean the condensing unit of the air conditioning system. To do this, use a hose with high pressure spray to cleanse the blades completely. To make your AC unit last even longer, cover the condensing unit with a waterproof—but breathable—cover.
Pipes that freeze and burst can be devastating in a vacant home and cost thousands of dollars before the rental season even starts. To make matters worse, many insurance companies don’t cover damages caused by frozen pipes when a home has been unoccupied for more than 72 hours.
To prevent pipes bursting in your rental properties when temperatures drop below freezing, insulate any pipes in attics, crawlspaces and outside walls. Open cabinets below sinks to increase the warm air flow to the pipes underneath. And turn off the water supply from both interior and exterior faucets. Don’t forget to drain the remaining water after you do so! Consider having a plumber blow compressed air through the pipes to make sure they’re completely drained.
An alternative option to draining your pipes is to make sure the interior temperature is at least 55 degrees for the winter. If you have a propane or oil tank system, fuel up.
‘Tis the Cleaning Season
Offseason months are primetime for deep cleaning short-term rentals. Outside, clean your gutters and roof, even if they look fine to you. Coastal salty sea air can take a toll on these areas if you don’t maintain upkeep annually.
If necessary, refinish patio surfaces. If furniture isn’t sturdy, store it somewhere indoors. High winter winds are stronger than you think.
Inside, thoroughly clean, unplug and defrost the refrigerator and freezer. Give the oven a good scrub. As for areas like living rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms, a meticulous clean is important to get rid of sand and debris that’s built up after a summer of wear and tear. If left untreated, mold and mildew can start to grow.
On that note, furniture and upholstery have probably endured moisture and food stains over the past few months. Don’t skimp on professionally cleaning these items. It’ll avoid costly issues in the future, extend your furniture’s longevity and generally look more appealing to guests.
Details, Details, Details
Guests expect vacation rentals to look better than their own home. They often leave negative reviews about outdated furniture, bedding, décor and carpet. These details are an easy fix, and winter time is the perfect time to refresh.
Lamps are a good place to start since they serve a practical purpose. After purchasing a few lighting fixtures, add a few quilts or non-bulky bed covers to your cart—these are easier to clean—along with blackout curtains. Replace any worn or stained mattress pads and pillows.
While hardwood floors and new furniture are pricier upgrades, they’re a worthy investment if you start noticing the existing pieces in your rental property are near the end of their lifetime.
Your Rental Property Partners
Maintenance is an imperative step in increasing the value and allure of your rental property and promising guests a stellar stay. Check these items off your to-do list during the offseason to help ensure a stress-free, safe and lucrative start to summer 2020—which will be here sooner than you think!
If you have any questions or would like more tips or recommendations for maintaining your property—and beyond—get in touch with the Vantage team today at 410.723.1780 option 5 or Rentals@VantageOC.com.
Founded in 2007, Vantage Vacation Rentals specializes in delivering exceptional experiences for both vacation property owners and their rental guests in popular Maryland destinations such as Ocean City, Annapolis and the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, as well as the Delaware beaches and North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Vantage serves owners with extensive property marketing and promotion as well as comprehensive property management services to help maximize rental income opportunities. With over 550 managed properties, Vantage makes it easy for vacationing guests to find and reserve the perfect option—then enhances their stay with exclusive benefits and discounts. To learn more about Vantage Vacation Rentals, visit VantageOceanCity.com, VantageMyrtleBeach.com, VantageDelawareBeaches.com, VantageAnnapolis.com and EasternShoreVacations.com.