How to rent out your house as a vacation rental

11 tips for renting out your vacation home


For years, the popularity of vacation rentals has been skyrocketing and continues to do so. Many of today’s travelers now prefer unique local stays, more space, and more privacy. All things vacation rentals offer that most hotels don’t.

Own a second home and want to get in on the action, but don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place—Vacasa currently manages tens of thousands of vacation rentals across North America and beyond. We’ve outlined the first essential steps to turn your home into a vacation rental easily, legally, and profitably.

1. Understand your local vacation rental rules, regulations, and tax requirements

Before doing anything else, make sure you can legally rent out your home as a short-term rental. Local law—whether that’s at the city, county or state level, or all three—dictates how you’ll own and operate a vacation rental. Or, if you can own one at all. Plus, don’t forget to look into your homeowners’ association rules for renting out your property. Your HOA may have the power to prohibit you from renting your property and levy fines against you for violating restrictions. Do your research now to determine if you're allowed to run your home as a short-term rental.

To make things easier, Vacasa has local staff in all of our markets who can assist you with staying in compliance.

2. Conduct a vacation rental maintenance inspection

Your home should be in top condition by the time your first guest walks in. Now’s the time to do a thorough walkthrough of your entire property. Doing an inspection now can help you spot major issues, then save you time and money on costly repairs. Maintenance problems can also lead to negative reviews—so find that broken pipe before your guests do.

After that initial home inspection (and after taking care of any issues), map out a regular maintenance schedule throughout the year. Items to check up on include:

  • Major appliances, like the washer and dryer
  • Big mechanical systems, like furnace, ventilation, and air conditioner
  • Attics and basements
  • Plumbing
  • Roof
  • Fireplace
  • Walls
  • Exterior landscaping and decks

Smart guide to vacation rental maintenance >

Living room with an indoor fire place and a mountain view from a vacation home

3. Move all personal items into a locked closet

When guests check in to your vacation rental, they want to see a blank slate for their own experience—not your family photos or framed diplomas adorning the walls. So, round up your personal mementos (yes, even your personal collection of rubber duckies) and valuable items.

Then, move them into a private closet or outdoor shed, which you can lock and mark as off-limits to guests. Clearing your space of personal effects is also a crucial step for staging your vacation home for professional photos.

4. Decorate your vacation home to boost bookings

Design is powerful. It can attract (or repel) bookings and even dictate how much money you make. After all, today’s guests are often willing to pay more for a sophisticated and appealing interior over a home filled with bland colors and mismatched furniture.

Designing to boost bookings requires more than just choosing pretty colors and patterns. Here are some top tips to get you started:

  • Consider who you’re designing for
  • Anticipate how your guests will use and move about your space
  • Select durable materials that will withstand multiple uses
  • Stay away from outdated trends

Vacation rental interior design tips >

5. Stock your vacation rental with all the right essentials

Start with the non-negotiables every modern traveler expects—like fresh sheets and towels, a coffee maker, plates and cups, lamps, and WiFi. Then, invest in extra amenities that will help you stand out from the competition. For instance, to attract more families, offer items like break-resistant dinnerware, play pens, and high chairs. Or, purchase beach towels, beach umbrellas, and sand toys for guests to use while staying at your beach house.

When you work with Vacasa, our local teams will stock your home with a complimentary supply of guest necessities—including laundry detergent, hand soap, trash bags, and paper towels—before every stay.

Inventory checklist for vacation rentals >

Modern vacation rental management.

Your home is a success waiting to happen. We'll show you how.

6. Carefully choose professional housekeepers

A dirty home can spoil a vacation right on arrival, not to mention ruin any chance of a glowing review or a repeat booking. So, don’t skimp on professional house cleaning. In fact, consider a quality housekeeper essential to your success—especially if you plan to manage your vacation home remotely. Most importantly, ensure your housekeepers are cleaning to your (and your guests’) standards by asking them to follow a vacation rental cleaning checklist.

Vacasa directly employs housekeepers, who clean our homes with extra care according to our Vacasa Premium Clean procedures.

Our housekeepers’ favorite cleaning tips >

7. Establish a team of local contractors

Don’t wait until your air conditioner breaks down to scramble to find someone to fix it. Make a list now of local maintenance and repair professionals who can jump in and save the day. Some people you should have on speed dial:

  • Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • Pool cleaners
  • Hot tub technicians
  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians
  • Arborists
  • Pest control
  • Roof repair

Homeowners who work with Vacasa enjoy the built-in benefit of our team of maintenance techs—and, for bigger jobs, vendors in the area who we’ve thoroughly vetted. We also handle scheduling and coordination of any maintenance and repairs on homeowners’ behalf.

8. Invest in professional photography and a virtual tour

Once you have all your decor, furniture, and vacation rental essentials in place, now’s the time to build up your marketing assets. Professional photos are a bare-minimum item to drive bookings. After all, your home has to first catch someone’s attention among the competition. Plus, you’ll use these photos in several places online—including vacation rental booking sites, emails, and social media posts—so make them too good to pass up.

Drive even more interest and more bookings by investing in a virtual tour of your property, which allows guests to easily picture themselves staying there.

If Vacasa manages your home, we provide a professional photo shoot and Matterport virtual tour of your entire home (at no extra cost) even before you get your first booking.

15 vacation rental photography tips >

Living room of San Antonio, TX vacation rental

9. Write a vacation rental description that sells

While attractive photos can grab a traveler’s attention, it’s a compelling description that will hold it. The best vacation rental listing descriptions (included with Vacasa’s full-service vacation rental management) sell the positives of your home with full transparency—gaining trust, building excitement, and closing the deal.

Some ways to do that: showcase your vacation home’s unique traits upfront, make your headline count, and speak directly to what visitors to your destination want.

How to write persuasive listing descriptions >

10. List your vacation home in the right places

With professional photos, a virtual tour, and a well-written description, you now have the perfect vacation rental listing. Post it in several places online to get the most possible views and bookings. Start with the most popular sites—Airbnb,, and Vrbo. Then, fill in the gaps with niche vacation rental sites like American Snowbird and

That’s what Vacasa does for our homeowners—plus, we go several steps further:

  • Sync all of your channels and calendars (goodbye, double bookings)
  • Optimize all your listings with keywords and catchy headlines
  • Nurture tight-knit partnerships with top channels (like Airbnb and Vrbo), resulting in our homes often being listed at the top of search results and receiving guaranteed dedicated support

How Vacasa handles channel marketing >

11. Hire a vacation rental manager to take it from there

Need help setting up your vacation rental up for success (and keeping it that way)? Then work with a full-service vacation rental manager—like Vacasa, who helps thousands of vacation homeowners just like you. We’ll take care of your guests, your home, and your bottom line by:

  • Bringing exposure to your rental
  • Replying to reviews
  • Adjusting rates based on demand and other factors
  • Being there for your guests 24/7
  • Cleaning your home to Vacasa Premium Clean standards
  • Maintaining your home and coordinating repairs

And so much more.

Turning your home into a vacation rental takes research, planning, shopping, and some elbow grease. But, in the end, the benefits (hello, rental income and tax deductions) are well worth it. Follow this guide to make sure you have all of your bases covered before rolling out that red carpet for your first guest. Once you’re up and running, our homeowner guides will show you how to drive more bookings and maximize your revenue.

Interior of vacation rental with a nautical theme

Vacation rental owner FAQ

One of the top tax benefits of owning a vacation rental is potentially being able to write off several expenses. IRS rules can get complicated, but the general rule of thumb is that the expenses must be:

  • Ordinary and necessary
  • Directly related to your rental activity
  • Reasonable in amount
  • Incurred during the tax year

Possible deductible vacation home expenses include cleaning fees, HOA fees, maintenance and repairs, utilities, and marketing services. Want to maximize your tax savings? Consider these 10 tax deductible vacation rental expenses.

Today’s travelers have high standards for vacation homes. They expect all the vital essentials for a pleasant stay (think a smart TV, microwave, and cleaning supplies). Yet, they also appreciate delightful extras that make their getaways exceptional—such as an outdoor barbecue, kid-friendly and pet-friendly amenities, and a laptop safe.

Shopping and stocking your vacation home, especially at the beginning, can be an overwhelming process. Download our ultimate inventory checklist for vacation rentals for an easy, complete room-by-room guide.

They can be, if they’re in the right location, with the right rates, at the right time. One of the perks of owning a vacation rental is having the flexibility to change your rates according to demand. So, you can charge more during peak periods (say during special events or high season), earning you the most possible revenue any time of the year. Homes in desirable travel destinations (like popular beaches or busy ski resorts) tend to command top dollar.

One way to get a profitable head start is by working with vacation rental experts to manage your home. In addition to taking care of your guests, cleaning, and maintenance on your behalf, Vacasa’s main goal is to maximize your earning potential.

You can connect with a Vacasa property management team member by calling 888-711-0781 or providing your contact information via our Connect form.

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Call 844-518-0967 to speak with a Homeowner Consultant, who can answer preliminary questions and see if we’d be a good fit for you.

If you'd like to move forward, we’ll put you in touch with our market expert in your neighborhood to explore the financial potential of your home, outline our management fee, and introduce your local team.


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California licenses
Vacasa Seasonals Inc.
California DRE #02160171

Vacation Palm Springs Real Estate, Inc.
California DRE #01523013

Vacasa offers property management and other real estate services directly through Vacasa LLC and through Vacasa LLC's licensed subsidiaries. Click here for more information about Vacasa's licensed real estate brokerage/property manager in your state. Vacasa’s licensed real estate brokerages/property managers include: Vacasa Alabama LLC; Vacasa Arizona LLC; Vacasa of Arkansas LLC; Vacasa Colorado LLC (Micah Victory); Vacasa Delaware LLC, 302-541-8999; Vacasa Florida LLC; Vacasa Illinois LLC 481.014072, Micah Victory Managing Broker Lic# 471.021837; Vacasa Louisiana LLC, Dana MacCord, Principal Broker, ph 504.252.0155 (Licensed in LA); Vacasa Michigan LLC, 602-330-9934; Vacasa Missouri LLC, Vicki Lyn Brown, Designated Broker; Vacasa Nevada LLC; Vacasa New Hampshire LLC,45 NH-25, Meredith, NH 03253, Susan Scanlon, Broker of Record; Vacasa Minnesota, Broker: Micah Victory, license #40877637; Vacasa New Mexico LLC, 503-345-9399; Vacasa New York LLC, 888-433-0068, Susan Scanlon, Real Estate Broker; Vacasa North Carolina LLC; Vacasa Oregon LLC; Vacasa Pennsylvania LLC; Vacation Palm Springs Real Estate, Inc., California DRE #01523013, Mark Graham, California DRE #00700720; Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Texas, Debra Brock, Designated Broker); Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Washington, Robert Brush, Designated Broker); Vacasa Seasonals Inc., California DRE #02160171, Lisa Renee Stevens, California DRE #01485234; Vacasa South Carolina LLC; Vacasa South Dakota LLC; Vacasa Tennessee LLC; Vacasa Vacation Rentals of Hawaii LLC, 69-201 Waikoloa Beach Dr. Ste. #2F17, Waikoloa, HI 96738; Vacasa Vacation Rentals of Montana LLC, Terah M. Young, Licensed Property Manager; Vacasa Virginia LLC; Vacasa Wisconsin LLC; Vacasa Wyoming LLC. In Canada, this advertisement is provided by Vacasa Canada ULC, CPBC lic. number 75826, 172 Asher Rd. V1X 3H6 Kelowna, BC.