Finger Lakes Rental Management FAQ
Q. How will the rental rate be determined?
A. We will compare your property to similar vacation rental properties. Each property is scored according to certain criteria and a star rating is assigned from one to five, similar to a hotel scoring system. We will suggest a rate estimate and you will make the final decision on rental rates. Please note that rental rate increases will have an effect on occupancy rates.
Q. Can I limit the number of people occupying my unit?
A. Yes, you can establish the maximum number of people allowed. Also, not all rooms in your property need to be made available (e.g. a six bedroom home can be rented as a four bedroom, with two bedrooms made unavailable to guests).
Q. What type of wear and tear can I expect on my home?
A. Many new owners are surprised at the low levels of wear and tear that occur. However, there is wear and tear. Most commonly found are scuffs on walls, nicks or scratches on furniture, small tears in screen doors, and a few items missing, such as a dinner plate or pillow. Damages are minimal, and Finger Lakes Premier Properties has developed a property protection program to cover the cost of many accidental damages. If negligible damages occur, the guest will be charged from the credit card we have on file.
Our guests are screened by professional and skilled reservationists. We rent only to families and responsible adult and all of our guests are required to sign a guest license agreement that outlines our rules and policies. We’ve been in business for over 20 years and we’ve come to know the people who rent the homes we manage. More than 60% of them have rented with us before and most of our guests are families who enjoy the Finger Lakes year after year.
Q. How and when do I receive my rental income?
A. Checks are electronically deposited by the 10th day of each month. The amount includes all reservation income that is earned from guest’s who stayed the month prior. Our accounting team will send you timely monthly reports and accurate year end summaries. They will also process all lodging and sales tax owed on your behalf and Finger Lakes Premier Properties will pay all credit card fees associated with the rental of your vacation home. These are not costs you will incur.
Q. Can I reserve time for my family and friends?
A. Yes. At the time you enter your property in our program, you will define the rental schedule. After determining the time you would like to make available for rent (a minimum of at least four summer weeks), you can fill in any dates that you would like to reserve for your family and friends. You can also reserve available rental dates at any time, just by contacting our office. We will be happy to block out any available dates for your use. You can also place your reservation through a special section of our website reserved for property owners.
Q. What can I expect my first year?
A. Your first year will be a learning experience for you, if you are new to renting. You will learn how to prepare your property for rental, become accustomed to having guests in your home, and we will guide you throughout the entire process. Occupancy rates for first year properties can vary greatly depending on, the rental rate, demand for the type of property you own, and the time we are given to market the property. As time passes and your property receives more market exposure and attracts the loyalty of past guests, you can achieve 80-100% occupancy during the peak season. Off-season rentals vary based on your property’s appeal and price structure. Some properties achieve high occupancies from May through November because of their location is close to popular fall and winter events.
Q. What level of communication can I expect from you?
A. Each month we will send you a packet that will include a list of all advanced reservations scheduled, a check for payment for reservations departing and a three-part statement itemizing income and expenses. On a semi-annual basis we send out a newsletter. We also send an Annual Survey to owners in our program to get feedback on how we are doing.
Q. How will I be charged for work done to my property?
A. You have the option of taking an annual housekeeping/maintenance agreement, being billed on an item-by-item basis or providing your own maintenance services. If a guest calls with a maintenance problem, we will not issue work orders in excess of $175 without your prior consent. However, if it is an emergency situation and we cannot reach you, we will do what is necessary to protect your property.
Q. I’ve heard about people who rent on their own. Why should I use the services of your company?
A. Our home owners highlight three main reasons they use our services. 1. They save time using the turn-key services of a professional management company. Managing one vacation rental takes at least 8 to 10 hours a week. Many home owners have other jobs and cannot be on call to respond to the needs of guests 24/7. Or, they do not live close enough to ensure their home is safe at all times.
2. Other home owners acknowledge the specialized services inherent in the hospitality industry. They understand that renting their home is not as simple as putting up a sign or advertising online. It involves many things, such as marketing, securing reservations, following up on payments and delivering high quality, consistent housekeeping and maintenance services. Our owners acknowledge that by renting their home they have entered the hospitality business. Hiring hospitality experts can help them generate high earnings and repeat guests.
3. As the vacation rental industry grows, some home owners use our services to ensure they are privy to the latest technologies and strategies that secure bookings. They also want to be compliant with changing government regulations. From online bookings to revenue management and from lodging taxes to liability insurance, they look to us to provide the expertise and advice they need.
There might be other reasons to partner with Finger Lakes Premier Properties, but these are the reasons our current home owners commonly cite.
Q. What if I already have bookings for my property and I now want to hire you to manage my vacation home?
A. No problem. We will charge a reduced rate of 10% if you would like us to manage your existing reservations during the transition process (i.e. ensure full payment, customer service, check-ins, check-outs, cleaning, etc). We will get the guest’s information from you and fully manage all aspects of their stay.
Q. What differentiates your marketing program from your competition?
A. We have the most extensive vacation rental marketing program in the Finger Lakes. Our Internet presence has been instrumental in generating interest in Finger Lakes vacations and we work closely with our regional marketing partners. We rank number one on most, if not all, organic searches. Our high quality images, online booking, availability searches, and interactive website help ensure your income reaches its maximum. Our marketing team is actively engaged with third party distribution sites, social media channels and the ongoing development of meaningful relationships within our lakefront communities. A successful rental program requires a consistent, aggressive, carefully orchestrated marketing program capable of competing against the myriad of resort and vacation alternatives available in the world today. We invest heavily in marketing and, equally important, we have trained reservationists available seven days a week to answer guest questions and take their bookings.
Q. What will be the up-front cost?
A. There is a one-time charge of $225. A detailed inventory of your property needs to be done, and then you will set up the property with the list of required equipment. Photos will be taken of your property and all of the information will be loaded into our database files and our website.
You will also be asked to pay for “deep cleaning” your property each year, the cost for our housekeepers to clean after you use your home, unless you choose to clean it yourself, the purchase of an electronic lock to ensure your home is always secure, and participation in an enhanced marketing program, if you choose to participate.
Q. How do you ensure that I will not be "nickeled and dimed" with ongoing charges?
A. We offer a very extensive and cost effective annual agreement that specifically addresses this problem. For a modest annual fee (i.e. $300 for a two bathroom home), owners have the option of getting an agreement that covers most maintenance expenses. It covers both parts and labor. We heavily subsidize the cost of this service and know of no one else in the industry that covers so much at such a small cost. We also provide the option of a pay-as-you-go maintenance service at an hourly rate that is less than the current market rate. Our maintenance technicians are hot tub and pool certified and they care about the condition and quality of your home. They work hard to ensure you are aware of any issues that might impact the rental process. If a guest calls with a maintenance problem, we will not issue work orders in excess of $200 without your prior consent. However, if it is an emergency situation and we cannot reach you, we will do what is necessary to protect your property from damage.
Unlike many vacation rental companies, you will not be asked to pay for guest-related housekeeping costs, arrival and departure inspections, the washing, drying and delivery of linens and the provision of guest amenities, such as paper product supplies, coffee, tea, garbage liners, soap and dishwashing detergent. In homes that allow pets, we also provide a bag of pet goodies at no cost to you.
Q. How will you ensure that my property is properly maintained?
A. Every property is assigned an Inspector to personally oversee housekeeping, maintenance and related services. Your property will be inspected after each departure and before each arrival. A more detailed inspection is scheduled once a month and includes simple maintenance task such as changing filters and bulbs.
Q. Who takes care of my lawn or my pool?
A. We can schedule lawn care services for you or if you already have someone who mows your lawn and weeds your gardens, that is fine as well. We just ask that you only mow the lawn on turn-over days so guests can enjoy a quiet vacation. Our maintenance technicians are pool and spa certified and most owners rely on their expertise. However, if you already have someone who looks after your pool or hot tub on turn-over day, just let us know.
Q. Are there other services I should make sure I have in place?
A. Regular servicing of HVAC, septic and water systems is recommended. And, if your home is going to be rented during the winter, plowing services might be required. We can assist you with setting up these services, if you wish. Guests always travel with their computers, laptops and mobile phones, so having wireless internet services is more essential than ever. Again, we are happy to assist you to ensure you have the services in place that will generate the most bookings.
Q. If there are property upgrades I’d like to do before renting, can you help?
A. Yes, we can help with routine maintenance jobs, such as dock and step repairs, painting, dry walling, deck installation and general plumbing and electrical work. We are not a full-service construction firm, but we have staff who can fix and repair most vacation home items, including water pumps.
Q. Who picks up the garbage?
A. Your regular service provider should continue to pick up your garbage. If you do not have a company that provides this service, we can help you set one up. Based on the number of people your home will accommodate, we advise on the number of totes you will need. We provide information to your guests about garbage day and advise them when to take the totes curbside. If something doesn’t work as planned, we’ll make sure the garbage is removed at no cost to you.
Q. How do you handle keys in a way that keeps my home safe?
A. We use a lock that is designed specifically for the vacation rental industry. Each guest is given a unique code for the duration of their stay. When they leave, the code no longer works. Even housekeepers and maintenance technicians can be given a unique code that expires after their work is completed. The lock keeps a record of the codes that have been used, thereby creating an audit trail. Unlike others who hand out keys to guests, we do not. Using advanced technology and durable electronic locks, we keep your home secure. You will be given a master code to access your property whenever you want, of course. When guests are in-house, however, you will want to contact us before entering the home.
Q. Do you subcontract your housekeeping services or do you hire your own housekeepers?
A. We have our own fully trained and certified housekeepers. We are members of the Vacation Rental Professional Housekeeping (VRHP) association and we guarantee the cleanliness of your vacation home. Our extensive training program allows our housekeepers to approach the cleaning process with strategy, skill and accountability. The interior and exterior of your home will be carefully cleaned between guests and the work of each housekeeper is inspected. Every departing guest is sent a survey that scores us on housekeeping and you, too, are asked for feedback on an ongoing basis. The cleanliness of your home is a priority and we take it very seriously.
Q. Will guest linens be washed in my vacation home?
A. Finger Lakes Premier Properties provides guests with commercially washed linens to ensure health department standards are consistently met. This requires commercial washers and dryers, which we own and operate. We have a full laundry service that operates 24/7 during peak season to ensure all guests receive clean sheets, pillow cases, towels, hand towels, pot holders and kitchen towels. As a result, linens are not washed in your vacation home. You will be asked to provide mattress pads, pillows, blankets and comforters for your beds. Most owners set up a locked storage closet where they keep a set of sheets for their own use, along with items they wish to secure.
Q. What happens if there is an emergency? Who does the guest call?
A. The guest calls us any time of the day or night. We have staff available 24/7, including maintenance technicians. You have the option of joining our low-cost maintenance program that is priced according to the number of bathrooms in your rental home, you can pay an hourly rate for services or if you have your own maintenance technician, we can ensure we call him or her. Regardless of your choice, we handle all guest emergency calls.
Q. How do you deal with noisy guests?
A. We make it very clear upfront that excessive noise, partying or over-occupancy is not allowed. There are noise ordinances in most locations in the Finger Lakes and guests are advised they will be asked to leave, if they violate these ordinances. They are also advised that the neighbors have information about our rental policies and they have been asked to call us, if there are any problems. Many of us grew up here and we value our neighbors and our quiet lakefront neighborhoods. We expect vacationing guests to do the same.
Q. Can a guest charge long distance phone calls?
A. Many homes no longer have land lines due to the widespread use of mobile phones. If an owner wishes to have a land line, they can have the long distance service turned off, a password added, or a block put on the phone. Some owners, particularly those who have homes where wireless or internet access is intermittent, provide a land line for emergency purposes, but, as noted, they block the ability of a guest to place long distance calls.
Q. Do I have to allow pets?
A. No, that is up to you. We find that homes that allow pets are in demand, but whether you allow pets or not is entirely up to you. We have considerable experience with products and furnishings that are best for pet-friendly homes and we’re happy to share this information with you.
Q. What level of communication can I expect from you?
A. You will have easy access to all information that relates to your property at all times. Our experienced Owner Service Specialists are familiar with your home and can discuss specific aspects of your property seven days a week. They are your personal liaison to other departments within Finger Lakes Premier Properties, such as reservations, marketing, accounting and property services, and they will work hard to ensure your specific rental goals are achieved. We also provide you with an online account that allows you to open or block off rental dates, check occupancy levels and receive complete revenue and expense data. Our online site, reserved solely for property owners, provides you with updates, reminders and industry trends. As well, we send you a quarterly newsletter with important information about the industry, helpful rental tips and real estate trends. We also send an annual survey to get feedback on how we are doing. And, if you would like to meet when you are in the area, we would be more than delighted to do so.
Q. How do I enter the rental program?
A. Simply call our office and schedule a complementary evaluation. We will make recommendations, discuss a rental strategy and provide you with an agreement that outlines what is expected from Finger Lakes Premier Properties and you as the owner. We will want to ensure you can make your home available for at least four weeks during our peak rental season (July and August). Once your agreement is approved, we can start the process of marketing your property for rental.