Cottages provide the ultimate getaway all year long – whether you’re looking to enjoy a summer on the water or a cozy winter in the countryside, cottages offer everybody a little something. If you’re a cottage owner, you may have already considered renting out your cottage when you’re away for extended periods of time. Not only can renting out your cottage put a little extra cash in your pocket, but it’s also a great way to ensure that it’s looked after year round rather than just sitting there unenjoyed. If handled properly, you’ll be able to use your rental property to provide a beautiful getaway for you and your family, and for supplementary income during the off season.

While renting out the cottage has a great many benefits, it can also come with a lot of work. From regular maintenance to meeting and communicating with potential renters, it can be very time consuming – especially if you live a considerable distance from your cottage. This is why many cottage owners seek out the services of a property management company to take care of these things for them.

What is property management and why would I want it?
Your rental cottage is an investment, and needs to be handled effectively in order to continue providing you with supplemental income. Property managers are third-party companies hired by property owners to oversee the day-to-day operations of the property. This means that property management companies handle a wide variety of responsibilities, including ensuring that it’s rented out, screening potential renters, marketing the property, handling maintenance and repairs, and communicating with renters to solve issues when they may arise.

Property management companies can be a saving grace for cottage owners who wish to rent out their property when it’s not in use, but live too far away from the cottage to realistically be able to check in with renters and handle maintenance issues. This is especially convenient in emergency situations where essential utilities have failed or the property requires immediate repair due to a severe storm or other major event.

It’s also worth noting that during the COVID-19 pandemic, this saves you unnecessary travel and puts cleaning and sanitizing your cottage between guests in the hands of professionals who are best equipped to perform this service. 

Not only are property managers incredibly useful if you’re not in close proximity to your cottage, but they also save you a great deal of time. Whether it’s screening renters, communicating with them, or conducting maintenance and inspection visits, it’s going to significantly eat into your limited free time. Rather than handle it yourself and take time out of your days off or whenever you have a free minute, you’ll have a designated property manager who can respond to issues instantly.

Finding a property management company that suits your needs
Finding a suitable property management company to look after your cottage can be difficult, especially if you’ve never dealt with a proper manager before. The first thing you should do is reach out to friends and family members who have rented out their property – they may have recommendations for property managers you can use. Local realtors can also be a good source for reliable property management references, and may even offer these services themselves. 

Once you’ve tracked down local property management companies, you’ll need to do your due diligence by researching each recommendation you’ve received. Read online reviews to get a feel of what other cottage owners have experienced and what the company specializes in. You’ll want to ensure that the company you choose is experienced in marketing and screening so that you can be sure that your cottage is consistently rented, and that they choose reliable tenants. If possible during the pandemic, you’ll want to meet them in person to make sure they are someone you will want your tenants to have contact with if needed.  

You’ll also want to make sure that your rental is priced properly to include property management services so that you aren’t losing money on the deal. In many cases, this will mean raising your rates, but with current restrictions on international travel causing increased demand this is something many cottage owners are doing anyway. 

Why wouldn’t you hire a property management company?
 The only reasons not to hire a property management company are the additional costs and the potential that you do not have a reliable property manager in your area. While we’ve addressed additional costs with the fact that a raise in rates is completely acceptable in the current climate, having no property manager may be preferable to having an unreliable one. As the COVID-19 pandemic subsides and international travel becomes available, there is a long-term potential that a property management company’s services may become too expensive if rental rates start to drop — but most keep their fees reasonable so that cottage owners can continue to hire them. 

The decision is yours to make – remember not to rush into a decision, and to always trust your gut. With any luck, you’ll find a reliable local property management company to ensure that your cottage is consistently rented out and taken care of during the off season.

The Muskoka Window & Door Centre showroom features a wide range of energy efficient windows and doors that can help you make a statement with your cottage, increasing energy efficiency and keeping your property more comfortable all year long. To speak with one of our window installation experts, contact Muskoka Window & Door Centre today.