How to Set Up a Vacation Rental Business

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Vacation Rental
Vacation Rental (Image: sxc.hu - scol22)

If you like the idea of dabbling in real estate, but don't have the resources or patience for buying and selling, you might consider starting a vacation rental business. This type of enterprise provides a residual income that can expand as you acquire more property. To set up a vacation rental business, however, you'll need a carefully drawn plan.

Decide how many properties you want to manage at the start of your vacation rental business. In most cases, it is best to start modestly, while giving yourself the freedom to expand as you gain a reputation and a client base.

Acquire the properties you will rent to customers, or inspect and clean up the ones you already own. Before you even start advertising, it is best to have fresh, clean, repaired properties ready for tenants as soon as you get your first call. Remember to install strong, sturdy locks, deadbolts and security chains on all doors.

Draw up rental contracts with the assistance of a lawyer. You will need to have each of your clients sign this lease before they take possession of your property, so make sure it has all of the necessary clauses to protect your interests.

Establish an office from which to run your vacation rental business. This can be as simple as a spare bedroom in your primary home, or it can be a leased space in a commercial area of your city. Either way, it should be equipped with the necessary tools to run your business: desks, computers, phones, seating areas and a fax machine.

Decide on the best way to advertise your vacation rental business. If your properties are in a resort or tourist town, for example, you might want to advertise in local restaurants and tourism destinations, or you can place brochures in travel agencies.

Set up a web site for your vacation rental business. This allows potential customers to find your properties from anywhere in the world, and will give you a marketing platform from which to drum up new business.

Determine the policies on which you will run your business. For example, will you require a minimum rental length, such as three days or one week? Will you allow smoking in your properties? Are pets permitted, and, if so, will you require an additional deposit?

Tips & Warnings

  • Adjust your vacation rental business as you go, making new policies and adding to your contract as you learn.
  • Use local amenities in your advertising, such as distance to the beach from the property or proximity of great restaurants.

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