Short Term Vacation Rental Property Maintenance: A Guide for Short-Term Property Managers (With Free Checklist)

Industry Insights, Property Manager Tips
Short Term Vacation Rental Property Maintenance: A Guide for Short-Term Property Managers (With Free Checklist)

For property managers in the short-term vacation rental business, maintaining the property is more than just routine upkeep—it’s about building trust. Homeowners entrust their prized assets to managers, and a well-maintained property is a clear sign of a strong, respectful relationship. It’s simple: a clean, stocked, and well-cared-for home not only ensures happy guests but also satisfied homeowners. 

As we delve into the world of property maintenance, we’ll provide you with practical tips and a handy checklist to make sure every rental is guest-ready and homeowner-approved.

The Lowdown on Vacation Rental Property Maintenance

Vacation rental property maintenance requires diligence, foresight, and timely action. It’s not just about fixing a leaky faucet or ensuring the lawn is mowed; it’s a comprehensive approach that ensures every guest steps into a space that feels like home and every homeowner rests easy knowing their property is in expert hands.

Proactive Maintenance Plans

At the heart of effective property maintenance is a proactive plan. Instead of waiting for issues to escalate, property managers should be on the front foot, addressing potential problems before they become major concerns. This involves:

  • Regular Inspections: Periodic walkthroughs of the property can help identify issues in their earliest stages, be it a loose floorboard, a flickering light, or a potential pest problem.
  • Scheduled Deep Cleanings: Beyond the regular cleaning after each guest’s stay, scheduling deep cleanings ensures every nook and cranny is spotless, from the grout in the bathroom tiles to the spaces behind large appliances.
  • Prompt Maintenance: Whether it’s a malfunctioning air conditioner or a broken window latch, addressing maintenance issues promptly ensures guest comfort and property safety.

Comprehensive Upkeep

Managing a vacation rental isn’t just about the interior. It’s a holistic approach that encompasses:

  • Indoor Maintenance: This includes everything within the four walls of the property. Electrical fittings, plumbing, appliances, furniture, and even decor items fall under this category. Regular checks ensure everything is functional and aesthetically pleasing.
  • Outdoor Maintenance: The exterior of the property, including lawns, gardens, patios, and pools, requires regular upkeep. Seasonal care, like clearing fall leaves or preparing for winter, is crucial.
  • Security: A paramount concern for both guests and homeowners. This involves ensuring locks are functional, security systems are operational, and the property is safe from potential break-ins or trespassers.

Vacation Rental Maintenance is about ensuring every aspect of the property, from the front gate to the back patio, from the basement to the attic, is in prime condition. For property managers, it’s a commitment to excellence, and ensures that every guest has a memorable stay and every homeowner has peace of mind.

Why Is Vacation Rental Property Maintenance So Important for Property Managers?

In the competitive world of vacation rentals, property maintenance isn’t just a routine task—it’s the backbone of a thriving business. For property managers, ensuring that each property is in tip-top shape goes beyond aesthetics; it’s about ensuring guest satisfaction, and optimizing the business’s bottom line. Let’s explore why vacation rental property maintenance is paramount:

Greater Guest Satisfaction

The ripple effect of a satisfied guest is profound, leading to higher returns, glowing reviews, and increased bookings.

  • Cleanliness is Non-Negotiable: The adage “first impressions last” rings especially true in the vacation rental industry. A spotless property is the first step in ensuring a guest feels at home. Remember, guests won’t return to a property that isn’t clean. Ensuring a clutter-free, pristine environment before each stay is crucial.
  • Meeting Guest Expectations: When guests book a vacation rental, they’re looking for a comfortable, clean, and hassle-free experience. A well-maintained property is at the top of their list of expectations. Falling short not only risks losing repeat business but also opens the door to negative reviews, which can significantly impact future bookings.

Better Relationships with Homeowners

A property manager’s relationship with homeowners is built on trust and results. When guests are happy, bookings increase, leading to satisfied homeowners who are more likely to continue their partnership with the manager.

Lower Replacement Costs

Regular maintenance can help identify and fix minor issues before they escalate into major problems. By addressing these issues promptly, property managers can avoid costly replacements and repairs in the future.

Time is Money

While regular maintenance might seem time-consuming, it’s an investment that pays off in the long run. Addressing issues proactively, rather than reactively, saves time, reduces stress, and ensures a smoother operational flow.

How Much Should Property Managers Budget for Vacation Rental Property Maintenance?

Vacation Rental Property maintenance isn’t just about crunching numbers or sticking to a budget. It’s rooted in having the right team and resources at the ready, equipped to tackle the distinct demands of vacation properties. So, how should property managers approach this vital aspect of their business?

Staffing Over Budgeting

For many property managers, especially those who started as small companies and experienced growth, having a fully staffed maintenance department is often more valuable than a strict budget. A dedicated team can address issues promptly, ensuring guest satisfaction and minimizing potential damage.

The Value of Experience in  your Property Management Company

As businesses grow, the experience becomes invaluable. Older properties or those with a history of maintenance issues might require a more hands-on approach. Having experienced staff who can anticipate problems and address them proactively can save both time and money in the long run.

Wear and Tear of Your Rental Property

Given the constant turnover of guests, vacation rentals can experience significant wear and tear. A dedicated maintenance team, familiar with the property’s quirks and nuances, can ensure that high-traffic areas and amenities remain in top condition.

Seasonal Considerations

Properties in areas with distinct seasons might have unique maintenance needs. A knowledgeable team can prepare for these seasonal shifts, whether it’s winterizing a property in a colder climate or ramping up landscaping efforts in warmer locales.

The Importance of Feedback

A close-knit maintenance team can build relationships with guests, gathering valuable feedback during their stay. This on-the-ground interaction can provide insights that might not appear in online reviews, allowing for continuous improvement.

Flexibility Over Fixed Budgets

While having a financial framework in place is essential, growing property management companies often benefit from a flexible approach to maintenance costs. Instead of a rigid budget, prioritize addressing issues as they arise, ensuring the property remains appealing to guests and homeowners alike.

In-House or Outsource? Navigating Maintenance Choices

Every property manager faces a familiar crossroad: handling tasks with the in-house team or calling in the specialists. Picture your team, with their unique strengths, tackling everyday tasks with ease. But when the plumbing acts up or there’s a tricky electrical issue, it’s likely time to dial that expert you trust. Budgeting plays a role too. While training your team and equipping them might pinch the pocket initially, think of it as planting seeds for future savings. On the flip side, for those once-in-a-blue-moon tasks or when time’s ticking fast, having an external expert might just be your saving grace.

And let’s talk about the heart of your business: the guests. They’ll notice that sparkling clean room or the perfectly manicured lawn. If you feel a specialist can add that extra shine, it’s worth every penny. As your business grows, be ready to evolve with it. What works today might need a rethink tomorrow. Safety, of course, is non-negotiable. For those high-stakes jobs, calling on licensed professionals is the way to go. 

Remember, it’s all about finding that sweet spot between leveraging your team’s strengths and knowing when to call on the experts.

How Often Should Vacation Rental Property Maintenance Tasks Be Scheduled?

Depending on their nature and urgency, different maintenance activities need to be scheduled at varying intervals. Here’s a go-to guide for property managers:

After Each Checkout

These tasks ensure that the property is ready for the next guest and any wear and tear from the previous stay is addressed immediately.

  • Thorough cleaning of the entire property.
  • Restocking essential supplies like toiletries, coffee, and paper goods.
  • Checking and replacing any burnt-out light bulbs.
  • Inspecting and resetting security features, such as alarms or access codes.

Weekly Tasks

  • Routine tasks that help maintain the property’s appeal and functionality.
  • Lawn mowing and basic landscaping.
  • Pool cleaning and chemical balance checks, if applicable.
  • Garbage disposal and recycling.

Monthly Tasks

These tasks move deeper into the property’s upkeep.

  • Detailed inspection for any signs of pests or infestations.
  • Checking and cleaning HVAC filters.
  • Inspecting and cleaning drains to prevent clogs.

Seasonal/Quarterly Tasks

Tasks that align with the changing seasons or that need attention every few months.

  • Deep cleaning specific areas, like carpets or upholstery.
  • Winterizing the property or preparing it for summer, depending on the location.
  • Checking and servicing major appliances.
  • Inspecting the exterior for any weather-related wear or damage.

Annual Tasks

Comprehensive tasks that ensure the property’s longevity and safety.

  • Roof inspection and gutter cleaning.
  • Servicing and inspecting heating and cooling systems.
  • Checking the property’s foundation and exterior for any structural issues.
  • Reviewing and updating the property’s security systems and features.

A well-structured maintenance schedule is the backbone of a successful vacation rental operation. By categorizing tasks based on their frequency and ensuring timely execution, property managers can ensure that each rental property remains in prime condition.

Download the free Vacation Rental Property Maintenance Checklist here.

Top Vacation Rental Property Maintenance Tips

While every property has its unique quirks and demands, some universal tips can help streamline the maintenance process and prevent potential pitfalls. Here are some top maintenance tips every property manager should consider:

Clearly Defined Damage Policies

Before guests check in, ensure they are aware of the property’s damage policies. This not only sets clear expectations but also encourages guests to treat the property with care. Having a transparent policy in place can also simplify the process in the rare event of damage disputes.

Proactive Maintenance Plan

Reactive maintenance can be costly and disruptive. Instead, adopt a proactive approach. Address potential issues before they escalate. This not only saves time and money but also enhances the guest experience by minimizing disruptions during their stay.

Streamlined Reporting and Communication

Ensure there’s a clear process for reporting and addressing maintenance issues. Whether it’s a dedicated hotline, an online portal, or a simple text messaging system, effective communication can expedite repairs and reduce downtime.

Seasonal Deep Cleanings

While routine cleaning after each checkout is essential, it’s important to schedule a deep cleaning, especially after the high season. These intensive cleanings address areas that might be overlooked during regular maintenance and can help identify potential issues that might have arisen during the busiest times. At a minimum, this deep cleaning should be conducted once a year, ensuring the property is refreshed and ready for the next wave of guests.

Consistent Inspections

Regular property inspections are invaluable. They offer a comprehensive overview of the property’s condition, allowing managers to catch and address minor issues before they become major problems. Whether it’s a monthly walkthrough or a more detailed quarterly check, consistent inspections ensure the property remains in top shape.

Cultivate Trusted Partnerships

Build strong relationships with reliable contractors, cleaners, and specialists. Trusted partners can offer quality work, often at preferential rates, and prioritize your tasks. In the fast-paced world of vacation rentals, having dependable partners can be a game-changer.

By implementing these tips, property managers can ensure their properties remain in peak condition, ready to offer guests an unforgettable experience.

Maintenance, Satisfaction, and Safeguards

Stellar property maintenance is essential to any vacation rental—it’s the heartbeat of positive homeowner relations and unforgettable guest stays. Yet, surprises can pop up. That’s why savvy property managers lean on trusted shields like Safely’s rental protection. It’s about being prepared, so that when the unexpected knocks, you’re ready to answer with confidence.

Who We Are

Dedicated to providing premium short-term rental protection, Safely ensures that property managers and homeowners alike can operate with peace of mind, knowing they’re shielded from unexpected challenges. With a commitment to excellence and a focus on swift, effective solutions, Safely has become an indispensable partner for many in the rental industry.

Ready to experience the Safely difference? Get a quote.

Safely’s Short-Term Rental Protection

Predictable coverage for unpredicable moments
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Amanda is a licensed insurance agent and the Vice President of Sales at Safely and has been with the company since 2021, leading new client onboarding and client initiatives. She is especially proud of her team’s efforts to successfully drive down annual churn to 3% with a trending net revenue retention rate of 130%. Outside of Safely, you may catch a glimpse of Amanda playing a nurse on TV, prepping for her next art show, or on a date with her husband of 16 years.

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