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This checklist for turning your second home into a vacation rental is a comprehensive look at everything you need to take care of before your first renters even set foot in your home. (courtesy of


  1. Check the short-term rental laws for your state, county, city and HOA.

  2. Read up on HOA regulations.

  3. Review requirements for business licenses and paperwork.

  4. Review safety requirements and health code regulations for your area.

  5. Research and purchase an insurance policy for vacation rentals.

  6. Create a rental agreement.


  1. Review information on applicable tax deductions, capital gains, and LLC tax requirements.

  2. Research occupancy tax rate or sales tax for short term rentals in your county.


  1. Determine your vacation rental goals and break-even point.

  2. Set your rates (nightly, weekly, monthly) and rates.

  3. Devise a method for tracking and recording payments and expenses.

  4. Determine your methods for accepting payment (checks, HomeAway Payments, PayPal).

  5. Create a deposit refund letter.


  1. Find a reliable housekeeper or cleaning service.

  2. Create a cleaning/housekeeping checklist.

  3. Review cleaning checklist and process for check-in, checkout and keys with hired housekeeper.

  4. Find a reliable handyman or maintenance person.

  5. Create a maintenance checklist.

  6. Complete maintenance projects and renovations.


  1. Furnish your home based on target renters.

  2. Create a list of items to purchase.

  3. Purchase necessary items and save receipts! Also, try to keep all instruction booklets or  manuals together in a place where renters can easily find them.

  4. Create a property inventory list of items in your home.

  5. Gather coupons, local attraction/activity brochures and menus from local restaurants and put them in a binder to create a local attractions book.


  1. Review vacation rental listing websites (like, and and specialty websites to determine options for advertising your property.

  2. Set up accounts with 3 to 5 listing sites.

  3. Create a headline, property description, and location description for your listing.

  4. Set up a calendar and maintain it.

  5. Stage your home for photos.

  6. Take multiple pictures with a digital camera at different times of day or hire a photographer.

  7. Create captions for each photo.

  8. Link to listing site(s) from personal website.

  9. Have 3 people proofread your personal site and listings.

  10. Send an email to everyone in your address book linking to your personal site and new listing(s).


  1. Create standard responses and a sample confirmation email.

  2. Create a welcome book for your guests.  Some things to include:

  • Local attractions.

  • A thorough set of directions.

  • A list of instructions for using appliances, electronics and equipment at your property.

  • Set up an emergency contact sheet.

  • Determine method for getting keys to renters.

  • Create a check-in procedure.

  • Create a checkout procedure.

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