10 Myths Of Cottage Rental

Thousands of people rent Ontario cottages every year and have done for decades.  And over that time the nature of cottage rental has changed.

Standards have risen, and where you might have thought a dishwasher and flat screen TV were a luxury just a few years ago, these and other amenities are seen by many as standard now.

However, there’s some myths about renting a cottage that are still active and as we want to help you plan your next vacation, let’s address a few of them.

1          All cottages are ‘private’

One of the first questions we are often asked is ‘How private is it?’ which is quite understandable as you want to get away from the city and the confines of near-neighbours.

Privacy has different meanings for different people.

For those looking for the remote experience where daytime skinny dipping goes unnoticed, and the night sky is unsullied by neighbouring cottage mansions floodlighting their expressions of wealth, this is a rare commodity.

You can of course, still find pockets of peace and tranquillity where well treed lots give the impression of isolation, but out on the dock on a hot summer day, the reality is that most lakes are well populated, and you will certainly hear your neighbours, even if you can’t see them at times. Sound travels amazingly well across water, so even on a less populated lake, you’ll probably be able to pick up the finer details of your neighbour’s domestic disputes!

Some agencies provide a privacy rating on a scale of 1 – 5 and these are quite helpful as they do give you some idea of how close the  neighbouring cottages are, but bear in mind that these scales subjective.

2          There will be a cell phone signal and unlimited internet

You might love the idea that there are still places you can go where the office can’t find you, and if you are vacationing in some areas of cottage country, you will be hard pressed to get a signal.

This handy map shows the cell towers in all Ontario areas.

While internet access has come to many cottage areas, it is often delivered by line-of-sight Wifi or by satellite, and bandwidth may be limited.  If your kids are going to panic to be told they can’t watch Youtube videos or stream endless reruns of their favourite shows, you had better check what those limits are.  Excess charges for overage are very high and these would usually be charged to your damage deposit, so get this one settled before you leave home.

3          The satellite TV will have all the channels I get at home

If you are used to cable TV with a gazillion channels, you may be surprised to find your rental cottage has only the basic satellite package. This may mean no Sports Channel, so if you are planning on watching the ‘Game’ you might be sadly disappointed.

Many cottages still have older style tube TVs..and even VHS players, so check out what is available before you book, if it’s important to have HDMI connections.  It won’t be fun if you bring all your movies and shows to watch and then cannot connect them to the output.

4          All cottages have firepits
Firepit_optThis is a serious one because a lot of cottage owners do not have firepits for a very good reason. An out of control fire in cottage country can have catastrophic effects, and in areas where the ground is covered in dry pine needles, it only takes a single spark to create havoc.

If there is no firepit, you should not expect to have a campfire, and on no account should you light one where there is no designated area. If having a campfire at night is a ‘must have’ criteria, make sure you ask the question before you book a cottage.

Most cottage owners and agencies do not permit fireworks at any time so don’t take them with you.  On long weekends the local townships usually have a display, and many lake associations will host a firework event too.

5          The owner will never know if we invite a few extra guests

Think again folks – yes they will!

Cottage communities are very close and neighbours generally look out for each other and will let an owner know if they have a concern about overcrowding at a rental cottage. When you rent a cottage you will normally sign a rental agreement that restricts you to the number of people the cottage will accommodate. Please, please, do not abuse this as it could be costly and even result in eviction which could be a sad end to your vacation.

Overcrowding is a big issue with cottage owners for a number of reasons, all of which are entirely valid. Firstly, septic systems are designed to cope with a limited amount of use directly related to the size of the property, number of bathrooms and other facilities that produce waste water. Overuse can have a catastrophic and smelly effect. Secondly, cottage owners are in general responsible and thoughtful folk who will only want to rent to responsible and thoughtful folk. If you are not in this category, I respectfully suggest that renting is not for you.

And, one other thing….those limits include day visitors, so please don’t invite anyone to come by for the day without checking with the owner or agency.

6          The cottage will be easy to find even if we leave the directions at home

Cottage signsWe got a call one Saturday in late August from a friend on the lake.  A couple had stopped at their place to ask directions to a cottage they had rented from an agency. All they had to identify the cottage was a number which they’d assumed was an address. Unfortunately this was not the case – it was simply an agency reference and bore no relation to 911 numbers.  It’s a large lake and there are hundreds of cottages on numerous fire routes, but the couple had assumed it would be easy to find because they had photos.

Cottage owners and agencies supply pre-rental information that includes directions, how to find the key or a code for a lock-box, and other essential things to know before you go. It is really important to read this and take it with you!

A couple more things to remember

  • Your GPS may not be able to find a little cottage tucked well away on a tiny cottage lane, so don’t rely on it or you may end up trying to navigate a snowmobile route.
  • The postal code you have for the property may take you to the nearest post office which could be up to 20km away from your cottage.

7          There will be deep discounts by booking last minute

Cottages are expensive to manage as rentals.  They still have to be cleaned and maintained even if a booking is made at the last minute.  The argument that an owner will want your money just to get the place rented is more likely to shut down any likelihood of a discount than a polite enquiry on the possibility of a last minute deal.

However, in high season, there are so many people chasing so little availability at the last minute, it is rare to find a deal and in some cases owners will raise their prices just like airlines do.

8          New cottages won’t have mice

Here’s some news…..there are mice in cottage country and they don’t discriminate between new and old cottages. If there is a way in, and the possibility of easy food, they will consider themselves guests.

  • While it’s unlikely that you will see a mouse during your stay, there a few things you can do to prevent them.
  • Don’t leave screen doors propped open, even when you are unpacking the car, as a mouse or even a chipmunk will take the opportunity to join you on vacation.
  • Keep all food wrapped and put away, particularly at night.
  • Vacuum up crumbs from the kitchen floor and wipe down the surfaces regularly.

It’s a good idea to pack a couple of mouse traps – peanut butter or raisins are the best bait.

  1. The waterfront will look just like the photos

Water levels change in cottage country, dependent on a number of things, and sometimes there can be dramatic differences between the photos you see on a listing and what you find when you arrive.

On many lakes the season will start with higher water levels after the spring thaw and will naturally recede during a hot summer; on others the levels are controlled by dams, and local water authorities will manage the draw-down of water as required.

Responsible agencies such as  CottageLINK Rental Management will tell you how a cottage waterfront will look at different times during the season so you can make an informed decision on whether to book.  To be on the safe side it is always worth asking an owner if that beautiful beach in the photo will be exposed at the time you want to rent their cottage.

  1. You’ll be able to rent a cottage for a long weekend in the summer

The demand for cottage rentals is huge and far exceeds the supply in the high season weeks that usually run from the last week of June until just after the Labour Day weekend.  Finding a cottage that will rent for the Canada Day weekend, Civic Holiday weekend or Labour Day long weekend, is tough as the vast majority of cottages book weekly only during that time.

However, new cottages are being listed all the time, and these often have shorter breaks available.  To get up to date information on the short-break and weekend opportunities that CLRM offers, join our mailing list and we’ll let you know as soon as we have availability.  You’ll be the first to hear about new listings, special offers and last minute deals, as well as getting coupon codes for discounts.

CottageLINK Rental Management
Email: info@clrm.ca
Toll Free: 1-866 323 6698

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Business Address:
PO Box 39036
Columbia PO, Waterloo, ON, Canada N2T 0A7

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