Whether you only rent your home out from time to time, or have purchased it with the intent of creating a full time short-term rental business, creating a house manual simplifies the lines of communication for both the owner and renter.
If you’ve ever stayed at an Airbnb or other short term rental house or apartment, you know how many questions you have upon arrival. How do I connect to the WiFi? Does someone live here when it’s not for rent, and are any rooms off limits? Where do they keep the extra pillows? How much cleaning do they expect me to do before I leave?
Unlike a hotel with a concierge, customers of short term rentals need to have an access point for all their questions: the homeowner. There are some inquiries for which it makes sense for the renter to reach out to the owner directly, on an as-needed basis. But to avoid being inundated with emails, calls, or texts, and to lessen the stress on the guest, you can create a manual. This is in addition to sending pertinent details (ex. Check-in details, parking, etc.) before they arrive.
- Ensure your house manual is clearly organized and labelled, left out in an obvious place, and contains up to date information. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does have to be neat.
- Start out with a welcome message to set a positive tone. Let the guests know something interesting and unique about yourself (without revealing too much personal information) and the home. For example, is the home historic, or did you curate artwork based on a particular interest? Tidbits of fascinating information can create a more compelling experience as the renter forms a connection with, and appreciation for, the space.
- Lay out practical information such as the WiFi code, garage door/alarm codes, nearest hospital, emergency contact numbers, whether or not smoking and pets are allowed, where smoke and carbon monoxide detectors can be found, cab and transit info, and fees that may be incurred for damage or mess.
- Let them know about communal items that they are free to use, such as bicycles stored in the backyard shed, picnic tables/patio space, your BBQ, or other items that will enhance their stay.
- Provide cleaning instructions for check-out. If you require every item in the fridge to be removed, the dishwasher loaded and turned on, beds stripped, towels in the hamper, garbage and recycling separated and bagged, etc. state it specifically in the manual. This will also help with your judgement on cleanliness when writing a review, if using Airbnb or other common rental services.
- Share any details or quirks about the house to make their stay as smooth as possible. Does the ”start” button stick on your dishwasher? Is the unfinished basement off limits? Letting the renter know ahead of time can prevent unnecessary inconvenience and limits their need to contact you directly.
- Get them excited about your local neighborhood, and show your pride! This helps create a memorable experience. Share your favorite restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops, amenities, museums, vineyards, or whatever attractions your area is known for. If you have arrangements for promotional pricing with any local tour companies or businesses, make it known. Although we all have Google, there’s something intimate about a personal recommendation that makes the guest feel like a local. If they eat at a fantastic restaurant that you suggested, that’s one more reason to feel good about their decision to rent your home.
- Finally, remember to thank your guests and ask them to write a review if they enjoyed their experience! If all went well, you’ll be top of mind next time they plan a visit to your city.
What do you include in your house manual?
Freelance writer and photographer living in Toronto. She is the author and photographer of two cookbooks, Everyone’s Welcome (2019) and Allergen-Free Desserts (2015).