Choosing a Vacation Rental Property Management Company

Keeping your vacation home booked and well-kept while you're away


JULY 28, 2021

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Your dream of owning a vacation rental property has paid off. You now have a slice of paradise at the beach or in the mountains — a respite for your family and friends. When you can’t splash in the surf or take in those exquisite layered mountain views, you want others to enjoy that opportunity.

Vacation rental property management can help alleviate the stress of facilitating rentals and dealing with routine maintenance on your second home. Here’s everything you need to know about finding a company to manage your vacation rental so you can minimize your own headaches and maximize your investment and enjoyment.

What is property management?

Managing a vacation rental typically involves overseeing short-term rentals, from a few days, to a few weeks and, in some cases, a month or two. Property management allows you, the property owner, to essentially hand over the keys to your rental and let a third party take care of the rest — from administrative and operational tasks to maintenance checklists. Common jobs a property manager performs include screening tenants, listing a property and booking rentals, collecting rent, overseeing maintenance and cleaning, and handling customer service.

These tasks, of course, will vary depending on the property management company with which you choose to work and the terms of your contract. Property management doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition, either. For instance, a concierge vacation service can simply act as property manager and concierge for you and your renters. If you want a more full-service approach, look for a local vacation rental company or a reputable individual property manager.

Rental company vs. the DIY route

Here are a few benefits to hiring a vacation rental property management company for your second home:

  • Finding a vacation rental company will give you time to enjoy your property and collect income without the hassle of bookings, maintenance, and other time-consuming endeavors.

  • A rental company will provide marketing, listing, and advertising your beach rental or mountain abode.

  • A property manager will field any communication and customer service concerns or issues that may arise from short-term tenants. They also may make decisions on your behalf, such as dealing with a disruptive tenant.

  • A vacation manager can help you set a reasonable seasonal rate based on their expertise in the area’s vacation rental market.

  • Rental companies that specialize in vacation property management usually have a solid network of dependable, licensed contractors and maintenance workers.

However, should you choose to market and manage your vacation home by yourself, you’ll need to:

  • Market your property by using an online rental site or vacation rental software.

  • Be prepared to deal with tenant relations. That may mean picking up the phone at 10 P.M. when the smoke alarm in your urban rental won’t stop beeping. It also may mean kicking out a disruptive tenant who is not respecting the rules of your place.

  • Check in often. If you plan on getting income for your rental, you’ll want to have eyes on the place regularly to make sure that the property is ready.

  • Understand insurance and liability rules. Protect your property and your guests by familiarizing yourself with the type of coverage you need and how to make your property safe for all visitors.

  • Hand off a portion of the rental property. Using a vacation rental manager doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Some companies will only oversee the booking of the property; others may offer you a maintenance package. It never hurts to ask a local company about contracting out part of the work.

What to know about fee models

Wondering how much full-service property management fees run? According to, the range falls somewhere between 15 to 40%, with an average of about 28% of the income made from renting out the property.

Property management rates vary widely by state and local markets, but in general there are three short-term vacation management rental fee structures:

  1. Fixed-rate model. In a fixed-rate situation, your rental management company may charge you a flat rate for a rundown of standard services. These fees won’t change depending on the number of tenants or bookings per month.

  2. Guaranteed model. This model ensures that you, as the homeowner, will make a fixed passive income each month, regardless of how many bookings there are. This may be your best bet if you’re looking for a completely hands-off approach that gives you the same fixed rate month by month. Any additional income, however, will go to the vacation property manager.

  3. Commission-based income model. This means you, the property owner, pay the property manager based on the number of renters they book. The commission rate may vary widely based on the company.

How to choose the right vacation rental manager

You purchased your urban rental both for your enjoyment and for the enjoyment of others while you’re not using it. When looking for a vacation rental business to help manage your property, you’ll want to protect your investment. How do you choose the right property manager for your second home away from home?

  • Decide whether you’ll use a company or an individual. A manager not associated with a larger service may charge lower management fees and provide more flexibility. A management company may tack on additional fees, but may be more established.

  • Check reviews. Reputation is everything in the business, and if a company or individual gets poor reviews, it’s a sign to look elsewhere. A good company should have a portfolio of clients, testimonials, and a track record of solid bookings.

  • Check out their other properties. Take a deep dive into the management company’s other properties. Check out their online listings. Is the property manager really showcasing vacation homes with professional photography, good descriptions, and clear outlines of terms? Do the short-term tenants seem happy with the cleanliness of the properties and the attention to detail, based on reviews?

  • Ask about all fees. Keep in mind you may pay extra for administrative details and booking fees or the cleaning of your property’s spa or pool. Get a written list of the price structure, and be sure to read all the fine print.

  • Be clear on communication. Ask how you’ll get notified if a situation were to arise with the property or in the event of an emergency.

Add security features to your rental property

Maybe you’re simply looking to keep your urban rental secure or your beach home safe from flooding. Protect your investment with home security features. A doorbell camera can help you keep tabs on comings and goings. Flood sensors in basements and near plumbing will alert you to the detection of moisture. Indoor and outdoor security cameras can be your second set of eyes (just make sure you’re well-versed where you can and can’t place them).

Contact Brinks Home™ for custom security solutions to protect your vacation property. And don’t forget to protect your primary residence while you’re lounging on the beach during a vacation or gathering with friends for dinner during a busy workweek.

Allison Clark is a senior writer for Brinks Home. She enjoys educating others on the benefits of smart home security and using technology to simplify everyday life.

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