Renting Out Your Home for a Weekend: the Nitty-Gritty details of Getting Your Home Ready

We get a lot of questions about how we prepare our home for weekend guests via AirBnb or HomeAway. Many people are considering doing the same, but are not quite sure how. Where do you put your clothes? Do you have to throw away all of your food? Do you actually meet these strangers or do you leave a key under the mat? We’re going to get into all of that today. Read on for how we prepare our Farmhouse for weekend guests.

Setting a Minimum Stay

Setting a minimum stay is easy to do on both Airbnb and HomeAway. We set a 2-night minimum at our Farmhouse, which makes the extensive preparation worth it for us.

Pro-tip: if you know you’ll be gone for a longer period, set a longer minimum stay to begin with. If your home doesn’t book, you can always shrink the minimum stay as the date gets closer. This is especially relevant for holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving, where people often take longer vacations. 

Rate

We charge $350/night at our 4 bed/3 bath/2800sf Farmhouse, which seems to be a high enough price that we don’t get too many inquires (our goal is only one or two stays per month) but people still book it. Deciding on a price is all about making the effort worth it for you.

Pro-tip: To set your rate, look at comparable listings and hotel rates in your area. Then adjust up or down based on factors like number of beds, amenities, season, and condition of your home. 

Check-In

Welcoming your guests can either be done in person or with a lock-box/hidden-key. We have a lock-box at every property (we use this one) but like to meet guests when at all possible. We also leave an information with details including check-out instructions, what to do with dirty linens and trash, internet login, how to work the TV, instructions for using heat and cooling, etc.

Pro tip: leave a lock box near your front door with a key and an instructions sheet inside the home. And, if at all possible, meet your guests in person so they know they’re renting from real people!

Cleaning

Of course you want a clean home for your guests to enjoy (heck, you want to enjoy a clean home too). But that doesn’t mean you have to launch into a Spring clean before each guest arrives. Tidy up and deal with your personal items (more on that below) and then focus your cleaning efforts on the bathrooms, kitchen, floors, and windows. We also like to stage our home with pillows, throws, flowers, books, and games so that it looks extra inviting.

Pro Tip: hair is your number one enemy. Make sure all evidence of mammalian inhabitants (aka hair) is gone from the house before welcoming guests.

Bedroom Storage

This seems to be a hot topic for readers – what to do with your clothes? When we’re renting out our primary residence for a weekend, we close off our closets, but leave the dressers in the kids’ rooms as is. The bedrooms in the Farmhouse are well appointed but not overly-personal and we make sure that there’s a surface for guests to put luggage on in each room. That could be a chair in the corner, a dresser top, or a luggage rack (we use these).

Expectation of Privacy

I’ve been asked a lot about our ‘underwear drawers’, so wanted to address that despite the fact that our underwear drawers are closed off in our closet. There’s an expectation of privacy that goes along with renting out a home. We expect guests to respect reasonable boundaries and behave like responsible adults. And they expect the same of us. If a guest rifles through my underwear, I’d be a little ‘ikked out’ but mostly just sad for the guest. It doesn’t matter if a stranger knows the color of my underwear but it does matter if a person has made it to adulthood and hasn’t learned about boundaries. Ya know? And on that note, Garrett and I have long gotten over the ‘there’s-a-stranger-in-my-home feeling. We’ve been landlords for 10 years and learned to appreciate the cool people we have met along the way and thank the holy heavens that we aren’t rude or unpleasant like the worst guests we’ve had.

Beds

We put waterproof mattress covers over each mattress and pillow (we love these foam mattresses, these pillow covers, and these mattress protectors) before making the bed. We actually use the covers when we’re at home too and throw them in the wash when they need it. In terms of linens, I keep 2 sets of sheets for each bed at the house and put one on for guests and make sure the second set is washed and ready for our return. We don’t have one dedicated set for guests, just whichever is up on the laundry cycle.

Pro tip: Have a clean set of sheets and towels ready for your arrival so you can quickly get settled.  

Office and Personal Documents

We leave our office desk cleared off for guests, in case they have work to do. We also have one set of drawers in the office that’s lockable, which is where we leave our office and business supplies. All of our personal documents – like passports, birth certificates, etc – go into a fire-proof safe, which we bought years ago in case of a home fire.

Tip: lock up personal documents and valuables in a fire-proof safe. It will do double duty protecting your things in case of fire. 

Bathrooms

We move personal items like tooth brushes, lotions, etc into a closet and leave towels, soaps, and shampoo out for guests. In the kids bathroom, we keep a basket on a top shelf with all of their things in it when we’re away.

Kids Toys

In general we keep kids toys put away in their bins (or a closet) when guests arrive. But, if you know kids are coming, it always nice to leave out a couple baskets of appropriate-aged toys. We keep the majority of our book collection in the living room, open for everyone, and leave a smaller box in the kid’s rooms.

Pro-tip: if you know kids are coming, leave them some age-appropriate toys and books.

Valuables

Honestly, we don’t have a lot of valuables. No expensive jewelry to lock away or anything like that, but if we did, I’d put it in the safe.

Conveniences and Other Nicities to Leave Out

We like to make available the following items for guests: cell phone chargers, books, games, coffee, shampoos, soap, and toys. We also try to leave a bottle of local wine or a bar of local chocolate for guests. Anything to make them feel welcome will help them enjoy their stay and in turn, give you a better review.

Kitchen

For short stays, we like to leave the kitchen countertops clean and clear. Our food stays in the pantry cabinet but we clean the refrigerator, tidy up our food, and make leave at least two shelves for guests. Our kitchen gets a TON of use every day (we are basically home full time with 3 young kids) so this is probably the biggest task in getting our home ready for guests.

Insurance

Both Airbnb and HomeAway have policies that cover up to $1,000,000.

That’s everything we do to prepare our home for weekend stays, but let me know if you have any more questions. I’d like this post to be a real resource so I’ll update it if more questions come in.

Sources

Farmhouse sources available here

Related Links

3 Reasons to Rent Your Home out for a Weekend / House Hacking to Financial Independence (our story via Minimalist Mom)

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7 Comments

Comments

  1. When we travel, I always appreciate having a luggage rack for each person. Such a small thing, but they put the case off the floor and furniture, and easy to access. For stays of less than a few days, I don’t unpack, and the luggage rack makes that easier. For the same reason, I keep luggage racks tucked into the closets in my guest rooms and my guests seem to appreciate them a lot. When I bought mine, they were less than $15 each and they’ve gotten tons of use for the past 20 years.

    Also when I travel, I appreciate lack of clutter in BnB rooms — finding a space to put many decorative pillows when there is already luggage stashed around the room can be difficult. And surfaces free of clutter allow me to put out my own things without worrying about disturbing someone else’s decor.

  2. Vanessa says:

    Thanks Cathy!

  3. Do you leave all of your medicines in your bathroom? What about make up products?

    Also, when you say that you “close off” your bedroom closets does that mean that you lock them? We live in an old home that doesn’t have any interior door locks, so I was just curious how to secure a closet that doesn’t have a lock already installed?

    • Our old home is also without interior locks (well except skeleton-key locks) so we just leave them closed. But I wouldn’t mind adding a lock at some point. For the bathrooms we move our personal items into a closet and the kids bathroom has a basket on a shelf with all the kids things when we’re gone. Medicine is in a closet too. We do keep a first aid gift for kids in the laundry room.

  4. Have you ever had to deal with bed bugs in a long term or short term rental? We got them from a neighbor when renting years ago and it was a nightmare. This is honestly my biggest reservation about renting our home on airbnb. I understand we can just as easily bring them into our home, but we’re very careful about drying clothes after movies and dealing with luggage when we travel, etc. etc. I’m not sure renters or airbnb guests would do the same.

    • Oh goodness, wouldn’t that suck?! No we haven’t had to deal with bedbugs and pray we’ll never have to. We do use bedbug proof mattress and pillow protectors but there’s not much else to do. I would say, that every time we invite guests into our home or come and go ourselves, we risk bedbugs. So I choose just not to worry about it outside of the things I can control.

  5. Thank you Cathy. We are planning to rent out our lake house and these are great tips

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