Rental management with vacation properties is quite popular in the Finger Lakes even though Home Away and Flip Key are quite popular. Rental management companies reduce the stress for homeowners in the weekly rental market Owners are relieved of finding cleaning help, landscaping work and regular maintenance. But owner beware, it can lead to additional and unexpected charges.
After purchasing your new vacation home in the Finger Lakes and have decided to put it into a rental management company, take your time when working with the representative. One of the most important things I tell my real estate clients, is to remember it is their property and that they are allowing the rental company to make an income on “their” property. I can not tell you how many times my clients have told me:
“My rental company does not want us to use the house during that week.”
“They told us we can not have that type of furniture. ”
” They told us to install that type of flooring.”
“We are not allowed to do our own cleaning or painting.”
All of the above statements are only true if you allow them to be true. What do I mean? Read the contract that is presented to you to sign. If you do not agree with anything, ask to have it changed and then sign the agreement or if you are not sure what you should do contact your real estate agent, one that is not involved with the rental management company and ask them for their advice. Working in the area and selling real estate in the area, they can usually give you sound advice.
One of the most unseemly things that I have seen precariously inserted into a contract states ” If you decide to sell your property while under contract with us, you have to used out real estate services. If you use another agency you still be required to pay us six percent commission on the sale of your property.” This statement is definitely unethical and may potentially be illegal. This limits you to sell your property with them and then if they do not sell real estate at the time, you are still obligated to pay them a commission. Of course this would be above and beyond what you have already agreed to pay the listing broker. This statement was found inserted into a contract and not one person that came to me about it, had any idea it was there until they went to sell the property and found out their limitations from the rental agency.
Maintenance fees can be very confusing . Be sure to find out what it covers, how much it costs and how it will be billed. Many companies require a minimum of one deep cleaning each year. Some companies will go in before the beginning of the season, inspect the property and determine if the cleaning was done properly, even if you did it. Some will just take it upon themselves to go in with their own crew, redo the deep clean and then charge you for it without any communication. They will then refer to the contract as their defense.
What happens if a water pipe breaks or the furnace will not turn on? I would recommend that you break down various large utility break downs and hire a specific company to make the repairs yourself. For example if the air conditioning or heat will not work, have your own company to call for repairs. Most of the rental companies have employees that can repair minor issues, but are not really qualified for heating and air conditioning. Do not be afraid to list your preferences…again…this is “your” home.
If the rental company you are working with does not utilize electronic locks, I would recommend you install them. This keeps a record of every time the door is open and the combination can be changed by you.
By keeping a communication going with your neighbors, you will know if there are issues with your rental property and can quickly call to negate. The key to a good rental is that you can sit back and easily manage your property from afar either by yourself or through an agency. Many home owners are testing the waters with HomeAway.com and FlipKey.com. It is inexpensive to list your property, the portal is advertised extensively and you can save anywhere from 15 to 20 % by taking bookings online. There are also a few smaller agencies in the area that are offering very competitive pricing that should be on your list of agencies to talk to.
Before allowing anyone to tell you what to install or not install in your property, talk with your real estate agent. If you decide down the road you want to sell, you want to insure that your property is saleable based on the updates you add to the property.