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Jan 22 2015

How I Rent the House I Live In

Bourne Cape HouseI own a 4,000 square foot home (ID #23721) on a private peninsula in Pocasset in the town of Bourne. It is one of the larger homes on WeNeedaVacation.com.  I often live in a studio that, although it has its own completely private entrance, is underneath a portion of the home.  I sometimes find that it is difficult to explain to prospective guests, some of whom are uncomfortable with the idea.  Let’s face it, it’s already odd enough renting from someone whom you have not met, a home you likely have not seen, and which is being rented for significant money, but add to it that it may seem like you will be “living with” someone else.

Even though folks would not be ‘living with’ me, they know that homeowners can make things appear a bit better than they are in order to make the “sale.”  So just that added bit of uncertainty is sometimes a problem in my closing the deal.

I have lost some weekly rentals in high season as a result.  However, I met a super positive host from Brewster who has a cottage on the property, yet a distance away from the main house, and he says he never even mentions it, because it is fully separate.

I firmly believe that if it is possible, the way to go is to have a separate dwelling unit available for you on site, yet a short distance away.  Perhaps it could be shielded by a bit by greenery, and with separate parking access.  The more privacy you can provide, the less of a hindrance it will be.

My situation may be different than it is for others.  I also have a place in Provincetown where I am able to stay, and this year I plan to make it clear to guests that, if they would prefer to have the property entirely to themselves (perhaps just for the peace of mind that they will not be disturbing the owner who may be on site next door), it is an option to include that in the rental for additional cost.  I imagine that most homeowners might find it relatively easy to go off on an adventure for a few days.

The benefits of having me on site are tremendous, however.  I am super quiet, and I make an effort to not be home much.  I am also a farmer, so I drop off heirloom vegetables and multicolored calla lilies during folks’ stay.  And when that Miele dishwasher door unexpectedly fell off (who knew!) and the breakers tripped because all the AC’s were running with the microwave and over 15 electronic devices (laptops, etc.), I was there in five minutes.  I always text first, as I ask them to do.  I never stop in unannounced.  When these dishwasher and power issues occurred, I was able to be there in five minutes, as I was just down the road.  We had a good laugh, and they were up and running in no time.  I didn’t have to direct anyone down to the furnace room, the light switch, and the correct breaker!

In short, here is my advice:  Spend one to two weeks’ rent on picking up a vintage Airstream or a less expensive 1960’s fantastic trailer and park it off to the side of your property.  Or consider a tiny house.  If you can’t afford it, or cannot logistically do that, then be prepared to play it by ear with the people on the phone or email.  Be quick on your feet, and if need be, check your schedule and let them know if you will be out of town for some or all of the week they are inquiring about.  It is also good to remember that, if folks know that the landlord is nearby (though not necessarily on the other side of the wall hearing their kids rock-out), they are much more careful about noise and caring for your property.

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About the author

Scott Fitzmaurice

Scott Fitzmaurice has been renovating and improving historic and mid-century properties for over 20 years and is also very active in several nonprofits. His. beautifully furnished homes on Cape Cod and in Providence, Rhode Island, are ideal for business retreats or vacations.