Selecting a Rental Management Agency

Although managing your own vacation rental can be rewarding and arguably, economical, it is very time-consuming and demands a high degree of attention to detail for it to be successful. This is where rental management companies can offer a great alternative.

An Agency Serves Two Clients

Agencies have two distinct types of customer: the owner, for whom they deliver a range of services, and the guest, for whom the agency supplies information and reservation facilities. The agency that represents your property should not only deal promptly with your queries and concerns but must also provide excellent service to the people that want to rent. If it doesn’t do that, you won’t get the guests you need to rent your cottage effectively. Good agencies should pay equal attention to both owners and guests, and if they are acting efficiently on your behalf you should expect a high level of service from them.

It’s a Partnership

You need to feel comfortable with the company you choose to represent your cottage.  It’s a personal thing.  You have to be confident in their ability to match the right guests to your property, and deal with issues that may arise.  You want them to understand your concerns and help you every step of the way with recommendations based on a lot of experience.  In short, it should just feel right!

How An Agency Operates

You’ll want to feel confident they will work well on your behalf.  Find out their opening hours and how they respond to enquiries after hours; how they screen your guests; what happens in case of damage; how easy their booking processes are, and if they are operating legally. Rental agencies in Ontario should be registered with TICO (Travel Industry Council of Ontario) even if they are realtors too.  Remember that dealing with travellers means they are in the tourism industry, which is very different from the real estate market.

Commission Rates

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”


Agency rates vary, though not as widely as it may seem from a first glance at their rate sheets or websites. Some charge a flat commission rate that is payable only when the cottage is rented; a few have an initial set up fee and advertising charge, with a variable administration fee per week; and most charge guests a fee for booking. Commission rates vary from 12% to 30%, and may depend on different variables. Doing your homework thoroughly will indicate where you will get the best value whilst remembering that the old adage also applies, ‘You get what you pay for’.  Good marketing is expensive and what you get for an extra 1% or 2% may be maximum occupancy compared to empty weeks.

Marketing

The primary role of a rental agency is to market your property effectively and get maximum occupancy.  Just listing you on their website is no longer enough, and they need to have a wider marketing strategy that includes a number of advertising outlets.  Although you can do it yourself, the benefits of using an agency with their marketing experience and breadth can often outweigh the commission costs.  Ask if your cottage will be distributed to other marketing channels outside their website.

Inspection Visit

When you contact agencies, they will want to arrange a viewing of your property. Even if you are inviting several agencies to view, expect them all to take photographs and carefully question you on the facilities and amenities available, and any restrictions you may want to impose. When you appoint the agency, they will have the photographs and information so will not need to revisit.

Make sure the cottage looks its best for a viewing, as the photographs will reflect the way it looks on that day. If the weather is poor, or the season prevents the best exterior shots from being taken, have a selection of your best cottage photographs available for the agency representative to view.

CottageLINK Rental Management provides you with a comprehensive pre-evaluation guide that helps you prepare and stage the cottage for a visit. We want to maximise your income so will advise on upgrades and additions to bring more guests to your home.

Making Your Decision

The best advice is often the simplest.  Go with your gut.  If you get a good feeling from the people you are dealing with; you’ve checked out their experience and feel they can provide you with good value for the commission fee, as well as giving you good occupancy, then don’t overthink it.  Most agencies offer very similar services at a similar fee, so your decision may be based more on how you feel, than financial factors. 

About Us

CLRM has been in operation since 2004 and currently manages around 170 properties across southern Ontario.  Their principals and account managers have significant experience and knowledge of cottage country and the rental market.

Craig White launched the first Ontario rental listing site in 1995 and Heather Bayer is an international expert, speaker and author on all things related to vacation rentals and is the host of the popular Vacation Rental Success Podcast.  She has also managed 6 rental cottages of her own, so understands exactly what it is like to be a cottage rental owner.