15 Small Things To Consider For Short-Term Rentals

How Often Should You Steam Clean?

No answer is definitive; each property has its uses that will create overuse and dirty carpets. But what is in common is that having dirty floors and carpets will ruin your guest’s view of your property if it’s not perfectly clean. Your chances of getting the much-coveted 5-star review are slim if the property is not clean and as you know, a 5-star is crucial to your success and ranking.

Most Hosts agree that at a minimum, your rental should be steam cleaned at least every 4- 6 months. This should be a professional company that cleans and not a cheap $24/day rental machine from Lowes. You want the fibers of your carpet to be thoroughly steamed and scrubbed. The average cost is somewhere around 150 dollars (for a two-bedroom) depending on the location, size, and availability of competing carpet cleaning companies.

Now I am going to backtrack. While you need a professional to clean at least every 4-6 months, you WILL need your own small steam cleaner to spot clean as needed. It is especially useful on spots from sloppy eaters and spots on sofas and chairs

How Often Should You Deep Clean?

As with professional steam cleaning, Deep Cleaning should be done every 6 months. This is where you scrub and clean behind heavy furniture (such as refrigerators), clean grout, power wash the outside, and scrub inside and out. the time you schedule for your professional steam cleaners is a great time to also schedule routine maintenance crews to check the roof, chimneys, air conditioning, and heating.

Should You Provide Cable?

There are two camps, and neither is right or wrong. One camp insists it’s unnecessary as most people opt for streaming apps and the other feels you should so that in the event your guest does not have a streaming service they will be comfortable.

The determination of whether you should have cable in your short-term rental is driven solely by the market. If all your competitors have cable it’s recommended that you do the same. While it is true that most families will have a streaming service, you can “offend” some guests if they don’t have them, thus making you look like a cheap skate cutting corners.

Both camps, the pro camp and the con camp, will agree that you need to be very clear in your listing and specifically state whether you offer cable or not.

Side note, whether you offer cable or not is up to you, but do note, that families usually watch television when they are relaxing on vacation and you should at least offer smart TVs so they can stream their own services. They may be visiting the beach or hiking trails, but they most likely want to unwind by watching a little television when night comes.

Keep in mind that most streaming services do not have sports; if your guest misses the super bowl because of no cable you will be certain to hear about it.

Bonus tip, consider having smaller TVs in bedrooms as well. As you can tell, television can be a serious event for your guests – make sure you think about it carefully.

How Often Should You Change Batteries?

Invariably, batteries will expire at the most inopportune time. If you are managing yourself from afar it’s even more frustrating. What are you going to do if you’re 2000 miles away and your guest texts you that a smoke detector battery is beeping and they can’t go to sleep?

Batteries should be changed in all appliances and equipment at a minimum of every 6 months. If you have a smart lock or security cameras don’t forget to check these. If you haven’t purchased your smart locks or security cameras, consider getting those that will show you the charge level of the battery.

If your appliances and equipment have battery life left (but you can’t tell how much) consider using them for personal use, or giving them to your handyperson so they can use them for their personal use. It’s far cheaper to replace batteries before they expire than have to hire a cleaner or handyperson to arrive and make the exchange.

Stock up from Costco (or Amazon) and store them in your rental.

Should You Offer Internet?

You, as a host, should offer internet in most cases. By not offering internet you have just eliminated the business travelers. If your rental’s purpose is off-the-grid and back-to-nature you should have no problem skipping the internet. If your main selling point is “back-to-nature” it would be expected that you do not offer internet access.

If you do not offer internet it’s very important that you say so very explicitely so there is no shock to your guests. If you are in an area which does not have internet, or it’s very slow, this should also be in your listing.

if you have fast internet, this can be one of your key selling points. Some hosts will put a picture of their speed results and post a picture.

How Often Should You Replace Linen?

Sheets and towels used in your short-term rental will expire much more quickly from guest use than would the linens at your own home. The determination isn’t time, but actual use. All linens should be inspected by your cleaning crew and replaced as needed if stained or worn. On average, you can expect linens to last about 6 months.

Tip: have extra linens stored in a locked cupboard at your rental for your cleaning crew to access.

How Often Should You Replace Mattress and Pillow Protectors?

The life span of a mattress and pillow protector can be up to two years. The fact that you are using them for short-term rentals decreases its life by about 1/2 of what you would have for your personal use. Therefore, you can expect to replace your mattress and pillow protectors every year.

How Often Should You Flip mattresses

Mattress companies vary in their response. Some suggest every three months and others suggest yearly. Based on our research, we recommend flipping a mattress every 6 months. The flip should be from the new side up and turning the top to the bottom. This will increase the life and comfort of your mattress for your guests.

Should You Leave Food and Snacks? What About Gifts?

Leaving a small amount of food as an intro gift is always nice but not mandatory. You can fill a small basket (or bowl) with a few treats, like granola bars, jerky, nuts, and a candy bar for guests to munch on after they have traveled a long distance. It doesn’t have to cost much and can be replenished by your cleaners. Do not overfill or put expensive items such as wine (unless your rental is an upper-scale listing).

This is a nice touch that can increase your chance of getting a 5-star review. Be sure and put your basket (or bowl) near your guest manual. You know, the one with the rules and tourist attractions and advice. Try to add treats that can satisfy the vegan as well as the non-vegan and sugar craver.

to leave gifts and food – that is the question

How Many Guest Should Stay Per Bedroom?

Experts have two rules of thought. The first says earn as much as possible by increasing the number of beds (such as sleeper sofas and bunk beds). The second thought is, that the more people you have the bigger chance for messes, conflict, and grumpy guests, which leads to less than stellar reviews.

My rule of thumb is 2 people per room plus 2. My reasoning is you have to have a middle ground where you garner more interest by having the ability to sleep more, but you don’t want unhappy sardine-style campers. If your guests are two cramped that reflects on you and your listing. It is better to have happy guests and good reviews.

For example, a 3 bedroom can sleep 8. Twin beds or bunks in two bedrooms and a King in the master, and/or a futon or sleeper sofa in the recreation room/living room. If the house is 1000 ft or under, consider only having 2 per bedroom and none in the living area.

Should You Ever Use Used Mattresses?

Mattresses can be an expensive part of your furnishing, but one of the most important. A guest could conceivably be sleeping on your mattress for way more hours than staying in your property. Because of this, you want your guests to have a comfortable bed.

Don’t skimp on mattresses. You should not use used mattresses unless they are from your own house or know their short history. An unknown mattress (such as on Craigslist), could come with bugs and germs that were not anticipated. Spend the extra money and get new mattresses. You do not need an expensive remote control adjustable bed, just a simple good-quality mattress.

Mattresses can be purchased at Amazon and delivered to your rental for set up.

How Often Should You Replace Pillows?

A good quality pillow can last 3 years and a medium quality about two and cheap quality about 6 months. However, if a pillow gets soaked with bodily fluid – toss it and replace. Always use pillow protectors.

How Many Towels Should You Leave For Guests?

Consider dark towels

in general, you should supply 2 bath towels, 1 hand towel, and one wash cloth per guest for an average short-term rental. If you have a swimming pool or are near a beach consider beach towels as well.

Note: To keep your towels clean you can use black makeup clothes available on Amazon. They say “makeup” on them to discourage guests from wiping makeup on a lighter-colored towel.

How Often Should You Replace Sheets?

Sheets should be replaced on an as-needed bases. Cleaning crews should know that they are looking for wear and tear, stains, and damages, and to let you know when they should be replaced. Cheaper sheets can pill and look tattered quicker than good-quality sheets. On average a sheet that is unstained or damaged will last from 6 months to a year.

Should You Have Cribs etc.?

There’s pros and cons to including baby items, such as toys, cribs, baby gates, child protectors for plugins etc. If you choose to include a crib or play and pack you could be on the hook if a baby is injured. The same with a malfunctioning or improperly installed baby gate and child protectors. One way to avoid this is to make available ahead of time companies that rent these cribs etc if they are in your property’s town.

Others might say, when a guest has traveled a long distance they don’t want to have to concern themselves with cribs, highchairs, and the like – they just want to relax. Having the equipment available just makes it easier for the guest.

Both sides are legitimate, however, I prefer to let the parents find what suits them and their situation rather than me

Should You Supply Soaps and Shampoos?

In most cases, a host should supply their guests, with soaps, shampoos, towels, a blow dryer, an iron TV, cake pan, fry pan, and cooking and eating utensils.

By not supplying these your guest may feel inconvenienced when they have to make a run to a store to get these necessities.

Should You Offer Interim Cleaning Services?

So what do you do if your guest is staying 2 weeks? Should you clean the rental extra for them?

The simple answer is no. You work their cleaning fee as a fee for cleaning up after they have left so the property will be clean for the next guest. They have not paid for a cleaner to come in and clean each morning.

There is nothing wrong with offering an additional cleaning if they want the service – and pay for it. You might have a different opinion if you have multi-million dollar properties in which they are paying a couple thousand per day. Perhaps then you would want to offer an additional free service, but in general, an average short-term rental does not include additional cleaning for the guest unless they pay for it.


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