Managing Your Vacation Rental

Be your own guest! Spend a night or two in your rental home.

Written by Elizabeth Weedon
5/5 - (1 vote)

Despite all of your concerted efforts to prepare your home for the rental season – spending tons of time and money to clean, fix, paint, replace and even rebuild – the best way to guarantee that it will be beyond reproach for your tenants is to spend a night or two in the home before your first guests arrive. Doing so could spare you from receiving negative guest reviews, and enable you to receive more positive ones.

Many homeowners use their rental homes themselves for some weeks in addition to renting it out, and others rent out their year-round residences on the Cape or Islands during the summer. But many of you do not stay overnight in your home prior to your tenants’ arrival, and we strongly urge you to do so if possible – you might be surprised to discover a number of irritating problems that can easily be remedied once you are aware of them.

Owners of WeNeedaVacation, Joan and Jeff Talmadge, recently completed a major renovation of their rental home in Orleans. While waiting for their upstairs master bedroom to be completed, they spent a few nights in the newly completed downstairs bedroom. Much to their surprise, they were awakened very early in the morning by the sun pouring through the windows of the east-facing room. Immediately they realized that more effective window shades were necessary.

Joan and Jeff also discovered, when they went to grill steaks to celebrate their “new” home, that their old grill had completely rusted out and needed to be replaced. “Better it happen to us than our tenants,” Joan said.

Other considerations

  • Have you prepared meals in your kitchen recently, using all of the appliances to make sure they are working properly and the utensils to make sure they are adequate? (Read our blog post “Vacation rental kitchen essentials.”) Are your knives sharp?
  • Test your outdoor shower – is there adequate pressure? Is it clean?
  • Make sure you’ve tried every light switch or lamp to make sure that it’s working and doesn’t need a bulb replaced.
  • Does the house have a surge protector or multiple outlet strips to accommodate the multitude of vacationers’ electronic devices? Especially if you have an older home, do you provide plenty of extension cords and three-way plugs (new and in good condition)?
  • In addition to cleaning the clothes dryer lint trap, be sure to clean/clear the entire vent hose. Birds and mice have been known to build nests there during the winter.
  • Have you slept in all of the beds recently to make sure they are still comfortable?
  • Do you have adequate blankets and pillows?

You may also discover strange noises such as a groaning refrigerator or ice maker, a neighbor’s dog that barks incessantly every morning at 6 AM, or a deck/patio chair that rocks in the wind during the night.

So, whether you need to or not, “treat” yourself to an overnight stay in your own home. You might be surprised by what you discover!

Take a look at some of our other blog posts with advice about preparing your rental home including:

15 Tips for Preparing Your Vacation Rental for the Season

Trends in Vacation Rental Amenities: What are Vacationers Most Looking For?

Are Vacationers Your Tenants or Your Guests?

Clean Sweep: Will Your Home Pass the White Glove Test?

Clean as a Whistle! – Create a winning team with vacation rental cleaning providers

We’d love to hear about your experiences being a guest in your own rental!


About the author

Elizabeth Weedon

Elizabeth Weedon - Although I’ve worked for since 2008, I’ve been a loyal homeowner on the site since early 1998, just a few months after the website was launched by the Talmadges. I grew up summering on the Vineyard and managed my family's rental home there since the mid-1980’s. I’m passionately devoted to the Vineyard – and to WeNeedaVacation, which I credit with enabling me to hold onto the special property that has been in our family for nearly a century. An enthusiastic member of the WNAV Homeowner Support Team, I endeavor to keep my finger on the pulse of the Cape and Islands vacation rental industry so that I can provide homeowners advice about how to ensure their booking success with us. With owner Joan Talmadge, I am also responsible for editing and writing much of the text on our website, our monthly newsletters, and Homeowner Blog posts.


  • These tips were all very helpful. Thanks! Dropped everything and went out and bought surge suppressors and extension cords. I have a few other tips that we learned by staying in our own house.
    1. Check to make sure you have a full tank of propane for the gas grill–better yet, two of them! Ditto charcoal for the other type of grill.
    2. Check all sink and shower/tub drains. We discovered that one shower had a very slow drain due to a clog.
    3. Launder all sheets and towels. We discovered that some had a musty smell after lying dormant all winter.
    4. Clean that nasty yellow pollen off the windowsills and screens and outdoor tables and chairs.
    5. Don’t worry. Most tenants/guests are very careful and pleasant.

  • We have only owned our rental home for 2 years. I have to say that staying a few nights there and cooking Thanksgiving dinner with my husband, 4 kids, their 2 spouses, 2 significant others, and 4 grand kids, had me making a “to get ” list. The first year, I realized that almost none of the silver ware matched. We had a new set 2 weeks later. This past year, New carving and paring knives made the list, and are now replaced. It’s eye opening to spend time in the home. I recommend it.