Serial Renters’ Advice To Landlords

At many of the places where we’ve stayed, the owners have asked: Is everything is OK; are we missing anything; are there any problems?  After many a week-long rental, we have developed a list of most everything we would like to see in a rental unit.  We offer these comments to landlords with the hope they will find some ideas to make their property more efficient and comfortable for future guests.

The first piece of advice we would like to offer to someone thinking about doing short term rentals is to simply spend a week there yourself.  Actually pack a suitcase and essentials you want for the duration, move in, and unpack your stuff into the dressers, closets and shelves.  Buy groceries, put them in the kitchen cabinets and refrigerator, cook a few meals there.  See what works and what doesn’t, what is functional or missing or just in the way.

Do not over-decorate!  Putting lots of decor on the countertops, tables, beds, toilet, and elsewhere removes usable space that the tenants need.  Do not pile decorative pillows on the bed unless there is plenty of room to store those pillows while using the bed.

If you have a nice new thick mattress and feel you must cover it in plastic, get a thick cushy mattress pad to cover up the plastic.  Otherwise, put a blanket over the plastic and then a mattress pad and fitted sheet over that.  Plastic makes the bed hot and uncomfortable and the sheets slide around and bunch up.

Toss out the leftovers!  Clear everything out of the kitchen and bathroom that is not is in a factory sealed container.  If the container is open, the product may be contaminated, past expiration date, or even spoiled.  You don’t know how the product has been handled, so get rid of it.  Open coffee and tea and spices are probably OK, but use small containers so there is lots of turnover and it stays fresh.  If your coffee maker is Keurig style, either provide a few K-cups or a refillable cup that works.  Nobody likes that terrible surprise when they find they can’t make coffee in the morning.

Take good photos.  We want to know all about your property before we commit to spending a lot of money for a week’s stay.  Is the bed large enough for two?  Where is the TV in relationship to the living room furniture?  Is it furnished simply or is it cluttered with knick knacks?  Does the kitchen have enough counter space to prepare a simple meal?  Is there room for us to sit at the table and eat?  Is there a dishwasher?  Washer and dryer?  What floor is it on?  Are there stairs to climb or an elevator?  Is there a yard or patio and, if so, are there chairs, a table, BBQ?

If the rental is comfortable and easy to use for a week, you will have happy travelers who take care of your place – and write glowing reviews.  If the reviews are bad, all you are going to get are short-term renters who just need a cheap place to crash during a rowdy weekend and you are going to wind up doing a LOT of maintenance.

The following lists desirable items by area.


Inside the entry door, a mat to wipe feet and to store shoes

Coat hooks or rack near entry, if no closet


Basics (at least 4 of each for each guest, preferably more)

Dishes (microwavable) – dinner plates, salad plates, cereal bowls

Silverware – forks, spoons large and small, knives

Glasses – juice and beverage sizes

Cups – large, sturdy coffee mugs

Tools and supplies

Cookware (preferably teflon or non-stick for easy cleaning)

Frying pans – small and large

Pots – small and large

Cooking spatulas, ladles, and spoons

Knives – chef, paring, steak

Can opener, bottle opener, wine opener

Small and large mixing bowls (think popcorn, too)

Coffee maker, filters, coffee (at least a starter supply)

Dish drying rack and mat to put it on

Cutting board

Paper towels, plastic wrap, wax paper, aluminum foil

Paper towel holder

Hot pads


Hand towels, dish towels

Dish soap, hand soap

Scrubbing pads (sponges only if new with each rental)

Cleaning product for the countertops

Wastebasket with bags to line it

If there is a dishwasher, supply soap for it

Ice maker or at least 2 ice cube trays for full-sized cubes

Nice to have

Potato peeler

Cheese grater

Measuring cups and spoons

Colander or strainer

Knife sharpener

Kitchen timer

Meat thermometer

Placemats and coasters

Basic condiments – ketchup, mustard, mayo, hot sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and creamer in little packets that don’t spoil or need refrigeration.

Salt and pepper shakers

Some basic spices

If there is a grill:

Grill scraper, tongs

Charcoal and lighter fluid or butane



Towels – bath and hand (at least 2 for each guest)

Towel bars with room for the towels to hang and dry, within reach of shower

Bath mat for floor

Slip guard (decals or mat) for bathtub / shower

Hand soap, bath soap, shampoo and conditioner (preferably unscented)

Toilet paper (decent quality!)


Wastebasket with bags to line it


Hooks for robes or clothing

Clothesline for wet bathing suits if there is a pool or beach


Living Room

Comfortable seating for every guest

End tables on both ends of sofas and/or next to chairs



Coffee table – sturdy enough to use as a footrest if there are none

TV with signal source (at least an antenna), placed in front of seating




Comfortable beds (If bed is for two, leave open space on both sides)

Fitted sheet, top sheet, light blanket, medium blanket, mattress pad

Extra blankets for winter

Night stands with reading lamps on both sides of Queen or larger

Closet space for hanging clothing

Dresser drawers for folded clothing, socks, etc.

Medium firm pillows and pillow cases with washable pillow protectors (not plastic)

Clock with easy to use alarm

Room darkening window coverings

Lots of hangers in the closet – minimum of 6 per guest


Wireless internet access for laptops is necessary, may be a deal breaker without it.

Keep wifi passwords easy enough to log in using an iPhone virtual keyboard.

Post wifi server name and password so it is easy to find.  Include in instructions.

Instructions for trash disposal and recycling, including which day to put out cans.

Check in / check out instructions and times

If washer and dryer on-site, provide non-scented detergents and dryer sheets

Instructions on parking

Instructions on mail delivery or nearest Post Office

List of TV channels if there is not a channel guide on the TV

Emergency numbers / emails

Owners’ closet for your personal storage and supplies.  Do not leave your stuff out.