Oct 16, 2011

We consider anything over a month a long term stay. Generally our bookings are long weekends, a week, and occasionally two weeks. But in low season we accept bookings of a month or longer. These appeal to snowbirds escaping the Northern winter for warmer climes South, or folks escaping the Southern summer heat for cooler climes North. We get both of these kinds of bookings, with Canadians coming to our Sunset Beach condo in the winter, and Floridians coming to our Beech Mountain condo in the summer.

These off-season long term stays are an important part of our annual rental income from these properties, even though we might only net in a month in low season, an amount not much more than we net for a week in high season. We also have to factor in more wear and tear and generally higher utility bills from extended stay guests. Here are some other things to consider:
  1. Higher expectations
  2. Different needs
  3. Different tax and rent law treatment

Higher Expectations

Guests staying for a month or longer can be less inclined to overlook something than guests might who are just there for a week. This can mean more calls, and more things to fix. One thing we insist on with long term stays, is a mid stay cleaning. Not only does this let us check that everything is ok, but it's also an opportunity to address certain non-urgent requests from the guests without needing to pay for an additional cleaner visit. Lastly, it also makes sure that the cleaner has some business.

Tax and Rent Law

Check with your city, county and state government for how long term vacation rental stays are treated. In the communities where we have vacation rentals, the city does not collect occupancy tax on bookings over 90-days. But the county and state still collect their tax. We regularly get inquiries for 1-month where the guests are under the impression that they won't have to pay taxes, but in NC that is not true. As well as tax differences, check on rent laws. Should something go wrong and you need to evict the vacation rental guest, you might find this harder with a long term rental.

Different Needs

Guests staying for a month or longer will likely do things that people on vacation for just a week wouldn't. They'll probably cook in more often and perhaps refill prescriptions. We have different maps that we share with longer term rentals, that show things like all the grocery stores, drug stores, big box stores, churches, hospitals.

Long term guests may also want to receive mail. This may be difficult if your mailboxes are locked, or you're in a vacation area without regular postal service. In the communities where our vacation rentals are, the post office has postal box rental facilities. The guests just need to bring in a photo id, and the rental contract, and can have a postal box in a matter of minutes quite inexpensively ($22 for 6 months gets the box and one key).

Summary

Guests that stay for long periods off-season will often return to the same place each year. In our experience even more so than guests renting a week in high season. Keeping them as happy vacation rental guests, to secure their repeat business, is important. But it's also important to be aware of the additional costs and liabilities you might be subject to.

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