How to Turn Your Home into a Vacation Rental

Sari EichenblattLeave a Comment

Have you considered using your second home as a vacation rental, but weren’t sure where to start? Or if it would be worth it for you?

As you can see from our success stories, vacation rental has become a lucrative business. Homeowners around the world are experiencing huge success with short-term rental, and at the very least, they’re cutting costs and giving purpose to their property when it’s not in use.

At Evolve, we find that if you can rent your property out three months of the year, then you are in for a nice cash flow. With that being said, even if you can only rent out your home a few weeks of the year, you can still offset some major costs.

Unfortunately, you cannot just decide that you want to rent out your home today, and have a guest occupying it tomorrow. If you want to fill your calendar with bookings and supply a memorable, comfortable, and excellent experience for guests, then we suggest taking the a few steps to convert your second home into a guest-ready vacation rental.

1. Take down your family photos

While it may not be ideal to take down your family photographs, if you’re serious about supplying an amazing experience for your guest, it is practically essential.

The best thing you can possibly do for guests who are staying in your vacation rental is to go the extra mile to make sure you house feels like their home-away-from-home. Unfortunately, it is hard for guests to feel comfortable in homes that are decorated with the photos of strangers.

2.  Keep the necessities

When you decide to turn your home into a short-term rental, you actually have an advantage over those who are just starting out with a new property. Many new vacation rental homeowners make the mistake of not supplying enough of the necessities. Sure they have plates and bowls, knives and forks, but they don’t have the smaller items that all homes have, such as:

  • Pens and pencils
  • Scissors
  • Extra blankets and pillows
  • A drawer of cooking utensils
  • A collection of take-out menus
  • Chip-clips
  • Tupperware
  • Stain removers and clorox wipes

3. Keep a locked closet and cabinet

Depending on if this property is one that you intend to visit a lot or just use as an investment, you will have varying decisions to make on how much of your personal stuff should stay at the property, and what will go.

Vacation rentals are up against hotel competition, so it is smart to model your vacation rental as close as you can to the hotel experience. For instance – in a hotel you won’t find other people’s shoes in the closet or bathing suits hanging to dry in the bathroom. These types of personal items that you usually have in your home either need to be relocated, or stored elsewhere.

Luckily, there is a solution for that.

Many homeowners who will come back to visit their property often will designate a closet to keep personal items in, and cabinet to keep expensive or sentimental dishes in. This way they don’t have to worry about bringing their personal items back and forth with every stay, and can feel at peace that their personal items aren’t being tampered with.

4. Set house rules and create an availability calendar

Deciding to rent out a beloved home as a vacation rental may be a bit scary. To ease any of your fears, sit down and map out a set of house rules and an availability calendar. That way, you know when you’ll be visiting next and you’ll also find comfort in laying down the law for guests to follow.

Block out your calendar

Birthdays, graduations, family weekends – when do you have even an inkling that you’ll be using your property? If you’re worried about renting out your home and not having the freedom of coming whenever, you may want to start out overestimating how much you’ll visit so that you won’t have to worry about it getting booked by guests during those times.

If the time gets closer and you realize you won’t be staying after all, you can open up the calendar so that guests can book.

If you’re more serious about making money, and aren’t too worried about having the flexibility to visit, then definitely block out your calendar as little as possible. As difficult as it may be to give up your beach condo for the fourth, or your ski in/ski out townhome for christmas – these big holidays are when you can make the biggest bang for your buck.

Make a set of house rules

Setting rules for your vacation rental is much easier said than done. How many rules are too many rules? How many rules are too few rules?

When setting rules, picture yourself in the guest’s shoes. Think about things that they may need to know about your rental and the neighborhood.

Here are some things you may want to ask yourself:

  • Will you allow pets?
    • If yes, will you charge extra per pet and what types of pets will you allow?
    • If no, will you charge a penalty fine for bringing a pet?
  • Do doors need to be locked or closed at all times?
  • Can guests use the washer/dryer?
  • Is there a protocol for trash, sheets, and dishes upon check-out?
  • Are there neighborhood quiet hours?

House rules should be posted on the fridge, or in a highly visible area. We also suggest including them in a Welcome Book.

5. Get a lockbox or keyless entry for check-ins

The biggest problem that can occur when a guest arrives at a property, is not being able to access the rental. Consider getting a lockbox or keyless entry to ensure that guests can get into the property smoothly.

A lockbox is a box that holds the keys to the house, while a keyless entry unlocks the door using a simple code. You can click here to read more about the pros and cons of each.

As you can read about in our article on providing a seamless check-in, property access is an incredibly important part of the guest experience. If the check-in goes awry or is difficult for the guests, then it will set a bad tone for their entire trip.

6. Give your home a deep clean

Before you can start letting guests visit your property – you must do a deep clean.

A thorough cleaning requires much more than just washing the sheets of every bed and scrubbing the counters a little harder than usual. A true deep clean is a top-to-bottom wash of your entire property.

Check out our resources to learn more about how a deep clean differs from your day-to-day cleaning. To download our free checklist to help you get started on your clean and other post and pre-stay necessities, you can click here.

So are you willing to take the time to do it yourself or should you hire a company to deep clean for you?

Cleaning companies are a great resource to have as you start your vacation rental. If you’re looking to hire a company to not only do the initial deep clean, but also to do the cleaning between stays, then use this as an opportunity to explore different service options. This way, you’ll understand what to budget for and you’ll have time to find a cleaning company you trust and can rely on.


Now that your second home is guest-ready, what’s next? You’ve got a lot more work ahead of you. You’ll need to think about things like professional photography, marketing your home, answering guest inquiries, taking payments, and much more. Check out our Vacation Rental 101 Series or download the Ultimate Vacation Rental Success Guide below for the full rundown of everything you need to do to get started with vacation rental.

If you’re worried about all the work involved in running a successful vacation rental and aren’t interested in carrying the responsibility, let us help.

At Evolve, we’ve partnered with over 9,000 homeowners to minimize the hassle and maximize the profits from their properties. For just 10% per booking, we handle every guest inquiry, craft professional listing descriptions, set and adjust rates, distribute the listing across HomeAway, VRBO, TripAdvisor, and Airbnb – for free, and much more.

Click here to learn more about what we can do for you and your property.