Renting out the family cottage.
I grew up in a home where space was a luxury and it had a price tag. My father, though educated, was a European blue collar bread winner, who never anticipated in getting rich, and truthfully, he passed away comfortable, but not rich. He did teach me that renting out space that you don’t really need or use, could be lucrative. And though both he and I have fallen victim to “bad renters”, it did not daunt us enough to stop renting out our basements, condos and cottages.
Becoming your own boss and earning extra dollars was a huge help to the household income and enabled us to afford to cover most of the operating costs associated with the property.
Cottages are not cheap to manage over and the operating costs could be quite high, depending upon the style of the dwelling, its heat and utility source, and the location of the property where the tax man comes calling for property taxes. If you itemise the list of costs you come up with a large enough number to justify the option of renting it out. Temporary or short term rentals are a good option to consider. The criteria and the laws are a bit different, than an annual or bi-annual lease. Damage deposits are a good way to manage your own and your rental guests’ expectations. And written agreements are an effective means to bridge the terms and conditions you wish to establish between you and the other party. Not every inherited home has to be sold; especially if that home is in a quaint little country spot, either on water or close enough to it, for it to be enjoyed by many other families, besides your own.
You should remember a few basic golden rules in cottage rentals :
1. Be fair and be honest with the people you are dealing with, treating them as you would like to be treated. Be true to your word.
2. Maintain your cottage as you would expect to have a taxi or city bus maintained that you would pay to use. Safety is a priority, and so are cleanliness, amenities, and professionalism.
3. Don’t leave valuables behind that you cannot do without. Eliminate family heirlooms and costly electronics. Remember, you are sharing all that is accessible.
4. Manage your expectations in a pragmatic way. Do not expect to get rich off of families or seniors. Remember, you are recovering costs, and making some profit. If you expect to get rich, perhaps you should consider another form of income, be realistic.
5. Put it in writing. Stay organised and treat your venture like any business opportunity. Perhaps consult a CA or CGA for some guidance on managing the financial side of things, especially if your venture takes off and you some added support. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
6. Don’t forget to use it yourself. The best cottage rentals are the ones that are owner occupied. They stay well maintained and clean. And they are always improved upon over time and energy: a labour of love.
Yes it can be scary. But it can also be wonderful. You could end up making new friends and share your lovely little slice of heaven with families that will treat your space like it was their own oasis. The world is not filled with just bad renters. It is filled with a lot of lovely folk that are just looking for a peaceful retreat from busy city life.