Vacation Rental Advice - Maintenance & Renovation Guidelines

Keep your vacation rental in top shape to impress potential Guests and create repeat visitors. A newly-renovated property also commands a higher rental rate. However, not everyone can afford the cost or effort of frequent renovations.

Renting a slightly dated property is certainly acceptable, so long as it's not oversold in your advertising, your rates reflect it and minimum basic standards are still met. At a minimum, your vacation rental should be clean, comfortable and well-maintained.

Use the checklists below & keep on top of basic vacation rental maintenance & operations:

Plus, learn how Helps you Keep on Top of Property Maintenance

Yearly Property Check-Up ItemsRental Advice - Smoke Detector Batteries

The following items should be tended to at least once a year. It's best if you're able to perform these tasks yourself to ensure they are completed properly. If you won't be able to perform the yearly check, delegate a responsible person that you can trust.
The yearly property check-up focuses mostly on preventative maintenance:

  • Check all light bulbs. Replace any burnt out lights to make sure your housekeeper or maintenance person isn't called out to your property for this purpose. This is an unnecessary cost to you and can create frustration for your Guest. You may also want to supply some extra bulbs in the property in case one goes out before your next check so Guests can help themselves.
  • Replace batteries in your door lock (if it requires batteries). It's also a good idea to put a label on your door with your emergency contact phone number, in case a Guest gets locked out.
  • Check all sofa beds. Are they comfortable?  Are there crumbs and other goodies hiding inside? Do you feel any metal bars?  Is the mattress sagging?  What about your bed mattresses?  Are they comfortable?  Would you have a good night sleep on them?  The best way to evaluate whether or not they need to be replaced, is for you or a family member or friend to sleep on it and then make the decision based on the quality of sleep.
  • Check the dishwasher. Remove any crumbs or garbage that may have accumulated.
  • Check and snake all sinks. Make sure that the pathway is clear. Use Draino for your sinks and shower/tub drains.  Keep a bottle of Draino under the bathroom sink, so Guests can assist themselves if necessary.
  • Check the toilet for any leaks. Is it time to replace the toilet tank feed line?  Is the water level of the toilet tank at the right level?  If your property is part of a condominium complex, keep in mind that any water leaks from your unit that do damage will be your financial responsibility (ie. you may be paying to fix your downstairs neighbour's flooring).
  • Test closet doors to ensure they open smoothly. Re-adjust doors if they squeak or are hard to open.
  • Check all door knobs, towel racks and kitchen or bathroom cupboard handles. Make sure they are fastened tightly.
  • Check to make sure your kitchen is equipped with the basics. Guests may break glasses or accidentally toss out cutlery. Make sure you have a full set. Replace worn out or rusty pots and pans. Evaluate and replace tea towels, oven mitts and pot holders as necessary.
  • If you have a private hot tub, make sure it is working and well-maintained.  Evaluate if the cover is brittle and needs replacing. A quick way to avoid any hot tub complaints is to provide detailed instructions for the Guest on how to use it. Place instructions near the hot tub where they can be seen and read easily.  Also include these instructions in your Guest handbook.
  • Check the heat, the furnace, and the fireplace to make sure everything is working. Is the fireplace pilot light lit? Guests' expectation of a heated property is a bare minimum. A non-working furnace is enough reason for a guest to move to another property.
  • Replace the furnace filter. Nowadays, many children and even adults suffer from asthma or respiratory problems. Make sure the air they breathe in your property is clean.
  • Make sure all electronics are in working condition. TV remotes should have new batteries, DVD and VCR players should work. Include instructions on how to use them if they seem a little complicated.
  • Replace batteries in smoke detectors, television remotes and garage door openers.
  • Check the fire extinguisher. Make sure the pressure level is satisfactory, seals are intact and there are no signs of leakage, rust or damage.
  • Repair scratches and holes in the wall. If you leave these for too long, they will accumulate and make your property look unkempt. Guests will also be more likely to contribute to the damage, thinking you won't notice or don't care.
  • Replace the shower curtain or curtain liner. Mold or mildew will accumulate on the curtain, especially along the bottom edge. Shower curtains are cheap so don't skimp.
  • Clean eaves troughs, preferably after the leaves have stopped falling.
  • Oil squeaky doors. This can include interior, exterior and even cupboard doors.
  • Purchase new pillows, linens and towels. Old pillows are a haven for dust mites and when sheets get old they never look clean. This may be extended to 2-3 years depending on how many rentals you've taken and the quality of your pillows and linens.


The 6 Month Check-UpVacation Rental Tips - Dusting

This may be a list you provide to your housekeeper or maintenance person but if you can do the check yourself, it's always best.
The 6 month check-up focuses most on detailed, extensive cleaning and supply top-ups:

  • Make sure your BBQ propane tank has a full tank of gas. Guests aren't happy to arrive at your property with a cooler full of steaks they have to fry on the stove. It's also a good idea to keep an extra propane tank on hand.
  • Dust the entire property, even areas where your housekeeper normally does not clean. Dust above cabinets, shelves, counter tops, under the kitchen sink and bathroom sinks, all kitchen and bathroom cupboards, fireplace, blinds, etc.  Wash the inside (and outside if possible) of all windows. Guests will want to take in any beautiful views that your property offers.
  • Stock-up your supply cupboard with toilet paper, paper towels, garbage bags and cleaning products.
  • Have carpets cleaned. Many Guests will wear their shoes inside your property, causing carpets to get dirty quickly. Small children will be crawling on the floor and clean carpets are very important to their parents.
  • Flip and rotate mattresses. This will cause them to wear more evenly and prolong their life. You may also want to change your mattress pad at this time.


The 3 Month Check-UpVacation Rental Tips - Oven Cleaning

This is a good check-up to perform if you take frequent rentals and your property is occupied quite often. Frequent bookings and high turnover may cause greater wear and tear on your vacation home. If you haven't taken many bookings, you may want to add these items to your 6 month check-up:

  • Change door lock combination codes if you do not do so already between each Guest.
  • Replace filter for fridge water dispenser if you have one.
  • Drain hot tub. Give it a good scrubbing, refill and make sure PH levels are satisfactory.
  • Vacuum under beds, sofa beds and other furniture. Unexpected items may be lurking beneath where small children can access. Housekeepers might not regularly clean under these items either.
  • Wash bed covers, dust ruffles, pillows, pillow covers and curtains.
  • Clean inside the oven and the fridge. The more often you do this, the less effort it will require each time.


Things to Tend to Every 5 YearsVacation Rental Advice - Painting

5 years is given as a guideline but certain items on this list should be done more or less frequently depending on the number of rentals you've taken:

  • Apply a fresh coat of paint. Pay special attention to high-traffic areas and corners where Guests might brush against the wall.
  • Re-grout bathrooms. Black mold is unsightly and a health hazard.
  • Replace your fire extinguisher. Hopefully your Guests will never need it, but if they do, you'll be glad you supplied one that works properly.
  • Evaluate condition of carpets. Because many Guests will wear their shoes in the house your carpets will get dirt ground-in and wear down quickly. If steam cleaning is no longer getting the carpets gleaming or a number of stains have accumulated it's time for replacement.


How Helps you Keep on Top of Property MaintenanceHow Helps

As part of your suite of reservation management tools from you have the ability to schedule follow-up emails to automatically go out to your Guests after a stay. This is a great opportunity to get their feedback and ask questions relating to the maintenance of your property.
In's most established destinations (those with over 50 listings) Owners also receive a list of recommended and reliable local maintenance companies.

Subscribe with and get reservation management tools to process bookings instantly online. You'll also receive a private, unbranded website that uses the same online booking engine to process reservations from anywhere you advertise! Learn more about subscribing with is now accepting vacation rentals in all destinations*. We'd love to hear from you if you own a vacation home in a destination we don't currently serve and are interested in a free trial subscription with us. Please contact us with your vacation rental/destination details.

*Please note that at this time our online payment feature is only available for those with Canadian bank accounts. A more diverse rent processing system is in the works.

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