A cabin, shining waters and a beautiful spot for a bonfire; renting a cottage in Ontario is a great way to get that perfect holiday. When it comes to cottage season however, most people think of the summer. But, there’s a lot of good reasons why fall is a great time too:
- There’s less traffic to fight
- There are fewer bugs
- The changing leaves make for a scenic drive up, and once at the cottage a great view from the window or dock
- Bonfires are best when they help keep you warm
For cottage owners, renting your property out can be a great way to defray some of the costs of keeping your seasonal home. And, for renters, the fall season isn’t typically considered high-season so renting will cost less than if you rented during the summer. But before any keys are handed over, there are a few things both parties should know:
A Clear Contract
Having a clear contract that outlines the terms of a renter’s stay is the best way to make sure both parties walk away happy. Make sure even smaller issues are addressed in the contract because many disagreements between cottage owners and renters happen because the rules haven’t been clearly communicated.
The rental agreement should address items like: how many people the cottage can accommodate, the rental period, the check-in and check-out times, the location, whether or not smoking or pets are allowed, the payment structure, deposits required, the cancellation policy, and the responsibilities of both the owner and renter (the condition of the property, damages, cleaning, repairs and the like).
Ask Questions, Lots Of Them
Renters out there, do not be afraid to ask questions. Cottages come in all shapes and sizes—so be sure to:
- Get recent photos of the cottage
- Obtain directions
- Get the owner's contact information should there be problems
- Inquire about local sites, events and stores
- Ask if there’s recreational equipment
- Ask about the wildlife in or around the cottage
- Inquire about the proximity of other cottages and the vibe or the area (is it tranquil, family-friendly, or is there an active community)
- Find out about drinking water
- Is there a barbeque, and will it have the propane needed to operate it
- What are the local rules for fire pits
Cottage Insurance: Protecting Yourself
If you’re a cottage owner and you want to rent out your property, your first call should be to your home insurance provider (most cottage insurance is offered by the company who insures your primary home as well). Many providers will void your coverage if they find out you are renting your cottage without their knowledge. In most cases, this can be easily avoided by calling your insurance representative and changing your plan to allow for rentals. If you don’t, you could be on your own, and on the hook, if your property is damaged in any way.
"Some seasonal property policies exclude damage caused by a renter," she says. "Some insurance companies will allow a renter for a very short period of time (maybe a week). Some policies will cover renters with specific conditions. Check to see exactly what you are covered for currently and inquire about how you can obtain coverage for renters."
For renters, you need to protect yourself too:
- Ask for references from past renters before signing on the dotted line.
- Search for online reviews.
- Remember, if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. If a listing has beautiful photos but the price is much lower than nearby competitors, you should wonder why.
- Never pay in full up front, a deposit should do.
- Be leery of cottage owners who ask you to pay by cash, Western Union, MoneyGram and the like.
- Take pictures of the cottage when you arrive, and when you leave. Make sure the photos have a digital date. This will prove that you left the cottage in good condition if something happens to it after you leave.
Cottages for Rent in Ontario: A Win-Win For Everyone
Everyone wins with a cottage rental, when done right. Owner's can pocket a bit of cash sharing their seasonal property with others, while renters often get more for their family’s vacation money—it's a win-win.