Managing Short Term Rental Properties: A Complete Guide for Owners

Short term rental properties like Airbnbs and VRBOs have become increasingly popular in recent years. As a property owner, managing your short term rental can be rewarding but also challenging. Proper management is crucial to maximize your rental income and provide guests with a positive experience.

Running a smooth short term Short Term Rental Property Management requires diligent preparation, responsive communication, leveraging smart tech tools, and constantly striving to wow guests through thoughtful service and meticulous upkeep.

This complete guide covers everything you need to know about successfully managing your short term rental property.

Creating a Business Plan

The first step to managing your short-term rental is creating a thorough business plan. Outline your financial and operational goals for the property, including:

  • Desired occupancy rate and income goals
  • Proposed rates/nightly prices for different seasons
  • Projected expenses like cleaning, maintenance, utilities, etc.
  • List of amenities and services to provide guests
  • Oversight and management structure

Having a business plan helps you strategize how to best market and run your rental to meet your income goals. It also allows you to budget wisely for expenses and keeps your rental business organized.

Setting Up the Right Tools and Technology

Leveraging technology helps make managing a short-term rental much simpler. Here are some essential tools you need to set up:

Calendar/Reservation System

An online reservation system allows guests to check availability and book online 24/7. Popular options include Airbnb, VRBO,, and direct booking platforms like Guesty or Barefoot. Syncing your calendars enables you to manage all reservations across multiple platforms in one place.

Smart Locks

Keyless smart locks allow you to remotely provide guests access codes and ensure a seamless check-in. No need to meet guests or hide keys onsite. Popular smart lock systems include Schlage Encode, August, and Yale Assure Lock.

WiFi and Smart Home Devices

Provide strong WiFi throughout the rental and consider smart home tech like smart TVs, voice assistants, and smart thermostats. These extras enhance the guest experience. Manage WiFi access from anywhere with a provider like Airbnb WiFi or Joyspot.

Cleaning and Maintenance Tools

Use apps like Hostaway, Guesty, and Avail to manage cleaners and contractors. Digital checklists and automated reminders make coordinating cleaning and maintenance simple.

Security Cameras

Security cameras allow you to monitor the property remotely. Consider indoor/outdoor cameras from brands like Ring, Nest, Wyze, or SimpliSafe. Let guests know cameras are for security purposes only.

Accounting Software

Use accounting software to organize the financials of your rental property. Quickbooks, Xero, and Wave are popular programs for tracking income, expenses, tax deductions, payments, and more.

Setting Accurate Rates and Prices

One key to maximizing your income is setting optimal rates and pricing for your rental. Consider these factors when pricing:

  • Size of accommodations – Larger properties warrant higher rates
  • Location – More desirable areas = higher prices
  • Seasonality – Adjust rates higher during peak seasons, and lower during slower months
  • Event calendars – Raise prices when major events are happening nearby
  • Amenities – The more amenities offered, the higher you can charge
  • Competitor rates – Research Airbnb rates for comparable nearby rentals
  • Demand – When occupancy is high, take advantage and increase prices
  • Discounts – Offer weekly/monthly discounts to incentivize longer stays

Re-evaluate your rates quarterly using dynamic pricing tools to optimize based on seasonality, demand, and events.

Setting House Rules and Policies

Create clear house rules and policies to set expectations for guests. Communicate these rules on your listing and within the property. Helpful rules include:

  • Check-in/check-out times
  • Number of guests allowed
  • Noise curfews
  • Pet Policy
  • No smoking policy
  • Parking details
  • Cleaning expectations

Also outline your cancellation policy and fees, security deposit policy, and any other policies about parties, events, keys, damages, etc. Having formal policies prevents misunderstandings.

Frequently Asked Questions about Managing Short Term Rental Properties

How much can I earn from a short-term rental property?

Income depends on size, location, rates, and occupancy rate. On average, hosts report earning $3,000-$5,000 per month. Popular areas bring in even more.

What expenses will I have with a short-term rental?

Plan for mortgage/rent, utilities, cleaning fees, supplies, repairs, taxes, insurance, management tools, and other maintenance costs. Expenses vary widely.

Should I manage the property myself or hire a manager?

If you have time and willingness to self-manage, it keeps costs lower. Property managers charge 25-50% of rental income but handle everything.

What legal and tax considerations are there?

Research local short-term rental laws. Report income on your taxes. You can deduct rental expenses like mortgage interest, cleaning fees, supplies, etc.

What amenities and smart home devices do guests expect?

At minimum – strong WiFi, basic cable, equipped kitchen, quality linens and bedding. Smart locks, smart TVs, and voice assistants are nice extras when possible.

How often should I communicate with guests?

At booking, before arrival, day of arrival, during the stay, and post-stay. Be responsive but avoid bombarding guests. Automate messages when possible.

What should I do if something breaks or needs repair?

Notify guests immediately with an estimate for fixing. Offer a discount or refund for any major inconvenience. Keep vendor numbers handy for fast repairs.


Managing your short-term rental property is a big responsibility but also an incredibly rewarding endeavor. By following best practices around preparation, maintenance, guest service, and leveraging the right tools, you can create a smoothly run operation. Stay organized, responsive, and committed to providing a phenomenal experience that keeps guests coming back.