For a lot of vacation rental owners, back to school signals a slower pace of business — a lull as people get back to their normal schedules.

This dip is a great opportunity to focus your attention on your rental in a way you can’t when you’re focused on smoothly transitioning from one guest to the next.

“There are distinct seasons in the rental business.” Lynn Berardo, owner of Modern Lake Tahoe in California, told MyVR earlier this year. “[I realized that] I needed to concentrate my efforts according to this cycle, and budget time and money to do certain tasks in shoulder seasons.”

What kind of tasks should be on your To Do list? Here are our recommendations.

Deep clean your home

On an ongoing basis, you or your housekeeper should be on the lookout for anything visible, like damage, stains, or burned-out lightbulbs. Now that you’re not jumping from one rental into the next, get below the surface. For example:

  • Steam clean rugs and carpets,
  • Wipe cabinets and make sure there’s nothing lingering on shelf corners,
  • Wash all your windows and vacuum the blinds,
  • Give the fridge a thorough disinfecting.

For a full list of suggestions, check out this Fall Cleaning Checklist from Real Simple. The goal is to give your rental property a clean and fresh slate as we move into cooler — and often much muddier — time of year.

"Private Airbnb Studio in San Francisco near Ocean Beach" by Kevin Krejci on flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Check for wear and tear

As with regular cleaning, you should have an ongoing maintenance schedule where anything with visible damage is removed or replaced. Now you can take a closer look for anything that may have been missed.

First, check your furniture and supplies for anything that needs to be repaired or replaced:

Are there any tears or worn spots in towels or sheets?

  • Do your quilts, blankets or comforters look dingy?
  • Do any rugs look visibly worn?
  • Are your pillows still fluffy?
  • Are there any dead or unhealthy plants that need to be removed from your yard or garden?

Also, check for things that are fine now, but will require time — and a budget — over the coming year.

  • Is there anything that may need replacement over the next year (i.e. small appliances or furniture)?
  • Is there any part of your yard or home that will need particular attention in the spring (i.e. lawn and garden work, swimming pool repairs or floor refinishing)?

Your priorities will depend largely on how you market your property; well-loved accessories in a shabby chic cottage are practically expected, but a luxury rental implies top-of-the-line and like-new furnishings.

There is also no set formula for replacing things in your home. Pillows should be replaced regularly for hygienic reasons, but the lifespan of your couch or decor is harder to pinpoint. Here are five ideas to keep your rental looking fresh.

Do preventative maintenance, prepare for the coming season

Beyond regular wear and tear, there are also maintenance items that can be easy to overlook despite regular walk-throughs.

HomeAway has a helpful Seasonal Maintenance Checklist for you to refer to, but also think about things that might be particular to your area (i.e. storm shutters or snow equipment). It may be a bit early for some of these supplies, but it’s better to have them nearby than to be caught off guard if you don’t have a chance to swap them in later.

Whatever you do when the pace of business slows, keep thinking ahead so that your vacation rental continues to put its best face forward.

What are your priorities during the shoulder season? Do you have any projects in the works?