Creating a Yearly Maintenance To-Do List For Your Vacation Rental

Owning & operating a vacation rental can be a rewarding experience.  For starters, there’s the money.  Depending on where you’re operating the vacation rental, you can make significantly more money renting it short term vs long term.  There’s also the reward from making vacationers feel at home when they could be very far from home.  Sharing your city with somebody new and all that goes along with that.

But it’s not all roses and butterflies.  Operating a vacation rental on AirBNB or VRBO is significantly more work then a long term rental.  Guests expect the property to be in tip-top shape.  Everything is fully functioning, no tears or excessive wear on the furniture, the landscape is nicely upkept and of course sparkly clean.  For some, this can lead to anxiety and the feeling of never catching up.

We get to speak with a lot of very successful vacation rental hosts here at GoGuidebook and over time we begin to notice patterns.  Patterns that make hosts great.  One of those patterns I’ve picked up on lately is the reliance on To-Do lists.  These lists can be in a planner that’s hand-written, or digitally using an app like Reminders by Apple.  The main goal of the to-do list is to create a comprehensive set of tasks that must be performed on your vacation rental every year.  By creating this list and living by it, it reduces the anxiety of forgetting to do something and creates trust in your process.


What Tasks Should Go On My List

A comprehensive list of yearly tasks is something that will be somewhat specific to your individual property.  However, there are a lot of tasks that will apply to all.  We’ve created what we feel is a pretty comprehensive list of both general home maintenance tasks and tasks specific to running a successful vacation rental.

  1. Inspect Roof: Twice per year check for any loose or damaged shingles, flashing, or vents. Repair as needed to prevent leaks.  At this time, blow off any leaves that may have accumulated on the roof.  This will help with landscape maintenance.
  2. Clean Gutters and Downspouts: Twice per year remove debris from gutters to ensure proper drainage and prevent water damage to your roof and foundation.
  3. Check Batteries On Locks: Many vacation rentals utilize smart locks that run on batteries.  Every three months, make it a point to check the batteries and replace if needed.
  4. Check For Bugs & Rodents: Most vacation rental hosts utilize a pest control service.  However, we highly recommend making it a habit to do a check yourself every few months.  Bugs & rodents frequently lead to bad reviews on AirBNB & VRBO.  Doing an interior and exterior sweep yourself we think is worth it.
  5. Service HVAC System: Twice per year make sure you schedule a professional inspection and maintenance for your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system to ensure efficiency and reliability.  A/Cs and heaters often get used heavily by vacation rental guests and when they break it can be a nightmare that sometimes results in guest refunds.  Being proactive with your A/C & heaters is an absolute must.
  6. Shower & Sink Drains: The amount of hair that gets stuck in shower & sink drains is always something that amazes me.  When it happens while guests are there, it can sometimes result in an emergency plumber call.  We recommend twice a year clearing out all sink and shower drains to make sure everything is draining smoothly.
  7. Review/Update Rules & Procedures: Your rules and procedures are often found in your vacation rental guidebook.  Review these twice per year and make sure they are still working for you.  If they need updating, you’ll need to print off a new copy of the procedures or if you are using a digital guidebook for your vacation rental you can update them easily online.
  8. Review/Update Local Restaurants & Attractions: Guests want to vacation like a local.  To do that, it’s essential for them to know the newest and best attractions and restaurants in your area.  If you have a printed guidebook, you’ll need to manually do this every few months.  If you have a digital guidebook, you can wow them with interactive maps of your favorite restaurants.  It also makes it insanely easy to add/update as you can do it from anywhere without having to visit your vacation rental in person.
  9. Ensure You’re Catering To International Guests: Guests travel from all over the world to stay at AirBNBs & VRBOs.  Try to make them feel at home understanding that there may be cultural differences.  A great way to do that is by offering your guidebook in multiple languages.
  10. Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Replace batteries and test functionality to ensure they’re in working order.
  11. Deep Cleaning: Once a year you should always perform a deep cleaning on your AirBNB/VRBO.  We highly recommend either doing this yourself or hiring a cleaning company different from the standard company you use in between guests.  A fresh set of eyes on your vacation rental will find things the other cleaners perhaps left behind.
  12. Flush Water Heater: Remove sediment buildup by flushing your water heater to maintain efficiency and extend its lifespan.
  13. Inspect and Clean Outdoor Furniture: Every three months you should check all outdoor furniture for safety & cleanliness.  Check for rust, damage, missing screws, etc.. If a chair collapses on a guest due to excessive rust, you may find yourself in a lawsuit.
  14. Clean and Inspect Deck or Patio: Similar to outdoor furniture noted above, outdoor deck spaces should be inspected, cleaned and fixed every three months.  Deck boards are another area of concern when they get brittle.  You never know when a guest will try to use your deck as a trampoline.
  15. Inspect and Clean Dryer Vent: Remove lint buildup from the dryer vent to prevent fire hazards and improve dryer efficiency.  We know you’re doing a lot of loads of laundry at your vacation rental.  Keeping the dryer vent clean will save on electrical costs
  16. Change Air Filters: Every month you should be changing the air filters on your A/C & heater.  As mentioned above, vacation rental guests will heavily work your A/C & heater.  Changing the air filters are well worth the money to make sure they are running as efficiently as possible to save electricity costs.
  17. Service Garage Door: If your vacation rental has a garage it’s important to inspect it for safety once per year.  While doing so, lubricate hinges, springs, and tracks, and inspect for any signs of wear or damage.
  18. Clean and Seal Wooden Surfaces: If you have a wooden deck, fence, or other outdoor structures, we’ve found applying a new wooden sealant once per year can greatly extend the longevity.  Again, guests can be hard on your vacation rental.  Dragging chairs across the deck, leaning heavily on wooden railings, etc..  You need to go above and beyond to maintain these items.
  19. Inspect/Clean Windows and Screens: Twice per year you should hire a professional or break out the ladder to remove dirt and grime from windows and screens.  Cleaning from the inside is one thing but every now and then an exterior clean is essential.  At this time, also check to ensure all windows are opening/closing correctly and they will not pose a potential danger to guests.


Using Digital Guidebooks To Simplify Upkeep

As you can see, the list can get lengthy to properly maintain a vacation rental.  You don’t have to go at it alone!  Vacation rental hosts often use third-party contractors or even property management companies to tackle a lot of these tasks.  Superhosts are also starting to create digital guidebooks to make sharing information easier with guests.  Digital guidebooks allow hosts to update their guidebook from anywhere without physically going to the vacation rental.  It also allows them to share videos, interactive maps and more with guests which improves the overall guest experience.

Ultimately the goal of any vacation rental host is to get more 5-star reviews and make their vacation rental a successful long-term business.  By implementing all or at least most of the annual tasks noted above.  You should be well on your way!