Cottage Owners Information
Windrovers Cottage Rentals and its offspring the Cottage Crew went into business in 2007. Since then we have signed up 45 privately owned cottages and 2 cottage resorts. We have developed a list of 100’s of renters through extensive advertising.
New owner, Debbie Bannerman and Windrovers staff are motivated to work hard to satisfy our cottage owners and the “cottagers” that will be flocking to cottage country this summer.
Windrovers recently upgraded their website and will have online booking before summer 2012.
Windrovers has 5 Cottage Crews operating in several key spots across Ontario, maintaining and cleaning cottages between bookings.
We need cottage owners who want to rent their cottages.
Windrovers will do everything for you.
That is why we have introduced a changeover cleaning service to our business plans. In the past, cottage owners or the renters were expected to clean the cottage for the next renter.
All you will have to do is tell us what services you want and cash your cheque.
We will do our best to rent your cottage all summer. Rentals for the Summer of 2012 began last November – Windrovers is alive and well!
Windrovers will strive to make cottage renting a pleasant and profitable experience for you, the cottage owner.
We keep 20% of the published rental price plus HST for the Windrovers Rental Service.
Windrovers charges only for the period the cottage is rented.
In order for Windrovers to accept Visa and Mastercard as a payment option there are, of course, fees and monthly payments deducted. The fee on each transaction is 2.6% and we are asking cottage owners to pay the proportion of that one fee on the rent they will be receiving. We pay it on the Windrovers fee.
The Cottage Crew offers many extra services if you would like to contract us on occasion. For example, cottage openings and closings, putting in docks, yardwork and biweekly lawn cutting. Sometimes we can offer a special service depending on the individual skills of our local crews.
The renter provides a security deposit that we hold on your behalf until after the rental period and all bills are cleared.
The renter also provides a down payment on the rent of 30% at the time of booking including a non-refundable 15% booking charge.
The remainder is paid at least 30 days in advance of the rental check-in date.
If the cancellation is made 45 days or more in advance the renter is fully refunded, less the booking charge. If the reservation is cancelled less than 45 days before the rental period, Windrovers will re-rent if possible and refund the portion of the rent paid for the period the cottage is re-rented, less the 15% booking charge.
Two weeks before the rental, the refund option is withdrawn.
You, the cottage owner, will be mailed the balance of the rent payment within 4 business days from the first day of the rental period.
What You Get for Your Money
Your cottage will be advertised world wide on the web at Windrovers.com.
Your own webpage will feature many beautiful photos and more details about the cottage, including size, number of bedrooms, quality of swimming or fishing, and amenities, such as TV, internet service etc., as well as restrictions and the cottage owner’s criteria. There will also be an availability calendar that will be kept up to date every time there is a change.
In addition, the online booking service, worth $100s of dollars if you were to set it up with a listing service, is yours for free with Windrovers.com.
Your cottage will also be advertised on a well established cottage ad website to be sure that it is found on the net by renters. We will also purchase a print ad for you in “Cottage Rental Guide”.
Windrovers will be advertised by brochure, flyers, newspaper and magazine ads, posters and signs.
We will be attending cottage and trade shows – displaying cottage advertisements and speaking with potential renters.
The Cottage Visit:
When you have decided to let us rent your cottage for you, we will ask to meet with you at the cottage, if possible, depending on the season and accessibility.
This is an opportunity for us to meet each other; go over the rental arrangements; find out your renting criteria and particularities about your cottage; and anything else you wish to discuss.
You may wish to provide some photos of your own depicting good times; fun activities and other seasons.
Windrovers will take photos inside and around the property; discuss marketability with you and what improvements could be made in the short and long run to make your cottage more rentable.
We will come to an agreement on the amount of rent we will charge.
Windrovers staff will take care of all communication and paperwork.
We take reservations; keep a data base of cottages and renters; arrange financial matters; have a rental agreement signed; design and produce documents for the cottage owner and renter; and intervene on behalf of the cottage owner when the renter has problems or concerns.
All the Financial Stuff:
Windrovers will collect the reservation deposit on booking and the balance of the rent 30 days before the rental time.
We will obtain a security deposit and hold it till the rental period is finished and any additional bills are paid and then refund the difference to the renter. Please see Security Deposit Policy at the back of Cottage Owners Information.
We will handle any cancellations and pay you proportionately any non-refunded revenue.
We will prepare a statement of transactions and mail the balance of the rent to you within 4 business days from the date our cottage customers check in.
Telephone Answering Service:
Windrovers has a toll free number on our website; on all of our advertisements and on the Toronto Directory Website under “Cottage Rentals”. We are listed in the “Cottage Life Show” directory that is distributed to 30 000 potential renters (and owners) at the Spring Cottage Life Show in Toronto.
We keep our phone line ringing, and attended, and emails flowing 9:00 to 9:00 all spring and summer.
Windrovers will speak with each of the 20 or so people that will phone to inquire about renting your cottage.
We will also field any calls from renters with questions or concerns during their stay at the cottage.
There is always risk in renting your cottage. We will do our best to rent to only nice, responsible people but it isn’t always easy to tell. Most homeowners are a good bet but we don’t want to eliminate young apartment dwellers from enjoying the natural pleasure of cottage life.
So we question renters and check their references – and over time are developing a good bank of repeat and word of mouth customers.
Windrovers will communicate clear expectations, and develop straightforward contracts and information materials. We will speak with the renter and ensure they understand the rental criteria – ours and yours – regulations and restrictions. We will address their concerns and be on hand to solve their problems.
Making your Cottage more Marketable
The best way to make your cottage more marketable is good reviews.
Pay attention to detail because it is always difficult to know what it is that the renter thinks is the most important.
Cleanliness ranks high on the list. If we are not taking care of the cleaning, we can send you a checklist to make sure all the bases are covered. Look for ways to get your mouse problems under control. And don’t forget to clean out that fridge!
Check that your amenities that are listed with us are there, and working – eg. DVD player, BBQ. If there have been changes, keep Windrovers updated. We can warn the renter and change our advertisement if it is a permanent change.
Keep campfire wood accessible to the firepit but out of the rain, if possible. Leave the Fire Department Number inside and a note of any bylaws governing fires in your area. Just knowing they have to be discreet, may be enough warning to keep campfires modest.
A little welcome gift is an inexpensive way to get things off on the right foot. We often leave a plant or jar of local jam or some such thing if another renter is coming in.
Strive to have available the number of deck chairs that equals your maximum number of guests allowed.
Pet owners want to take their pets with them to the cottage. So if you are open to having other people’s pets at your cottage – you will have an advantage renting and may even be able to charge a little more. You may wish to give this a little consideration and preparation. For instance provide a pet kit with an old towel to wipe off their feet before entering the cottage and maybe a dog dish or 2.
Being amenable to amenities:
Cottage renters want all the amenities of city life these days. And those who don’t will be able to overlook them. We have listed some amenities on your cottage description form. Some that you don’t have, you may want to consider getting such as satellite TV or a DVD player. Lately I get asked for internet service. If you have that, we will charge more rent.
Cottagers also want watercraft – a canoe, kayaks, aluminum rowboat or small sailboat can give hours of fun and relaxation. Watercraft should be kept reasonably clean and include paddles and lifejackets.
Cottage Owners Preparation and Considerations
4 week minimum:
Please plan on renting with Windrovers a minimum of 4 weeks – 2 weeks in July/August and 2 more weeks between May 24th weekend and Thanksgiving. We will try to rent your cottage all the weeks available – however we require that you “give us” this many weeks to rent minimum. This is what we need to cover our time and expenses promoting your cottage.
Reserving your own time:
Christmas holidays are a good time to plan your summer vacation. Windrovers needs your bookings as early in the year as possible. We begin receiving a serious number of enquiries in January, and February is a very good month for booking summer rentals. So it would be best if you can give us your reservations in January. Please don’t ask us to check with you each time. Having to do this puts off the renter when they are ready to go – and I may get them back and I may not. Also it adds to our work load.
I will send you a reminder when things begin to roll in the Spring and you should get back to us to either book your times or let me know what weeks are available for sure. You can always change or update us later. But we won’t need to feel inhibited from renting your cottage.
The Cottage Owner will need to speak with their insurance broker about changes to their vacation property insurance. Some policies allow 30 to 45 days per year coverage to rent your cottage without any increase and then a minor increase for a few more weeks.
If your agent does not handle rentals – I know one who will. You will need to provide proof of insurance to Windrovers or else provide us with a statement of non-liability.
Repairs and Replacement:
Like any good homeowner, it is a good idea to set aside a fund for unforeseeable repairs. What if a water pump goes when your cottage is rented? Or the water heater dies? Is something showing signs of being unreliable? If possible fix it before the renter arrives. It is never a happy situation to have breakdowns occur during a rental – but avoidable ones are harder to explain.
We consider the capacity of your septic in deciding the number of guests the cottage can accommodate. But keep in mind that week after week of full capacity will result in the septic tank filling faster. Plan to pump it part way through the rental season – at least once a year.
BBQ Propane Tanks:
Please have 2 full propane tanks at the cottage. If there is not a full tank to replace the empty with, the Cottage Crew will get it filled and Windrovers will bill you.
Cottage Preparation: I can forward an article to you or give you advice when we meet. However, the minimum is – leave no sheets on the bed (renters bring their own) and make sure there are some empty cupboards and drawers in the kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms. Leave the fridge bare and wiped out. Thanks!
Cottage Owner Tips
Low Season Renting
Depending on your source of heat, insulation, water systems and accessibility of your cottage in the winter months – we encourage out of season renting.
Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years are popular times to rent a cottage.
Usually the cottage is rented for less money but it keeps rent coming in for more weeks of the year. Shorter rental periods such as 3 – 5 days or a weekend may be a consideration in the off season.
We would like to interest fishermen in the spring, hunters in the fall, and skiers and snowshoers in the winter.
Cottage country is beautiful at any time of year.
If there are trails in your area, we could rent to ATVers, hikers or even horse riders.
You set the criteria. For instance, you may not like the idea of renting to hunters or ATVers. That’s okay – we’ll advertise to photographers and walkers.
Do you have a quiet location or large sunny windows? Someone may be looking for a retreat for writing or painting.
Windrovers can direct their advertising to these markets in the low season.
The decision is yours. You may decide that it is more cost effective for you to close up your cottage for the cooler months.
Security Deposit Policy
The renter provides a security deposit that Windrovers hold on the owners’ behalf until after the rental period and all bills are cleared.
The security deposit is 50% of the rent not exceeding $1000, paid by certified cheque or money order. This is due 2 weeks before the start of the rental period. This deposit will be returned as soon as all bills are settled – normally within a month after the rental period ends. If everything is fine when we check and clean the cottage after the renters stay, we mail back the security deposit within a few days.
The security deposit will be used to pay any additional bills incurred during the cottage stay, to offset repair of extraordinary damage, eg., a broken window or to pay for missing items. Any bills will be fully revealed and discussed with the renter.
The cottage must be left “as found” (described below) or a debit for extra cleaning may be charged against your security deposit.
Any additional amount not covered by the security deposit will also be billed to the renter.
Whoever inspects the cottage after the renter leaves, that is, the cottage owner or representative or Cottage Crew Leader must phone Windrovers the same day to let us know whether there is any reason that the Security Deposit needs to be held. Reasons for holding the deposit must be clear and defendable. Pictures should be taken. If there are any problems – i.e., damage or missing items or exorbitant cleaning (more than 2 hours) – Windrovers needs to know (preferably) the same day so that we can otherwise return the Security Deposit as soon as possible.
If there has been a lapse of time between one group of renters and the next ones, the cottage owner should consider whether the cottage is still ready for the renter coming in. If you haven’t been there in a while, the Cottage Crew can go and check it and do whatever preparing needs to be done. This extra service will be billed to the cottage owner.
Cottage “left as found” – What does that mean?
It means that the renter will leave the cottage as clean and neat as it was upon arrival: Dishes done, counters and stove tops wiped down, blankets folded and on the beds, floors vacuumed or swept, and no garbage.
At anytime during the rental period that the renter has generated more than one bag of garbage, they check where the dump is, and what days/hours it is open, and take their garbage to the dump.
The owner or Windrovers will leave a checklist of what needs to be done to qualify as “left as found” and clear directions to the dump. The owner will leave tags (or where to buy them) or a dump card as needed. Or if the garbage is picked up at the curb, clear instructions when and which side of the road and leave tags or where to buy them.