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8 Things You’ll Need to Turn Your House into a Vacation Rental Home

Ready to make some vacation cash by transforming your place into a money-making getaway? Not so fast. Turning your house into a rental is easier said than done, and some of the dough you rake in should go toward guest-proofing your vacation rental home. Here’s what to buy before your home goes on the rental market.

Turning Your House into a Rental: What to Buy

A Combination Dead Bolt


[st_content_ad]The first step in turning your house into a rental is forking over your keys, which can be hard to do if you work or want to travel while the property is in use. The solution is a combination door lock, which allows you to simply let the renters know an access code. This password will have to be temporary or changed between guests, but it’s safer and easier than making key copies and relaying them to strangers. Invest in a durable combination dead bolt—preferably one that allows you to set multiple combinations and even temporary codes, like Kwikset’s 10-digit version.

Price and Where to Buy: Kwikset Contemporary Electronic Keypad from $60 on Amazon

Nest Home Monitoring


To help you stay in the loop on your property when renters are there (and when they aren’t), Nest thermostats, smoke detectors, and security cameras are accessible via smartphone for some on-demand peace of mind. Whether you want to see who’s at the door or be notified if something goes wrong, Nest has home-monitoring gadgets you can tailor to your needs. Install security cameras outside, upgrade your smoke alarms, or opt for a remote thermostat. Who knows if your guests will leave the air conditioner blasting when they leave? You will.

Price and Where to Buy: Nest cameras, thermostats, and smoke alarms from $99 on Amazon

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Wi-Fi Locks

If you’re worried about your combination-lock codes getting out, consider a Wi-Fi lock you can control remotely and/or open in person with your own key. This can be an extra safeguard in case the combination lock is compromised, or simply a way to lock up if your guests forget to. Some pricier locks offer the best of Wi-Fi and combination locks in one, like Schlage’s Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt that can be locked via code, smartphone, or Amazon Alexa.

Price and Where to Buy: Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt from $180 on Amazon

Basic Toiletries

Don’t be that host who snubs the small items. Inexpensive bottles of shampoo and conditioner in the showers go a long way for anyone who doesn’t bring their own, and other bathroom items like soaps and mouthwash are a nice touch. Buy in bulk, or stock up on travel sizes on and leave a basket of goodies in the bathroom.

Price and Where to Buy: Travel-sized toiletries from under $1 each on Pack Simply’s website

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App-Enabled Garage Door Opener

Ever leave the house and forget to close the garage? Your guests might do the same. The Chamberlain MyQ-Garage Door Opener uses your home Wi-Fi to notify you if your garage is left open so you can close it remotely via smartphone app.

Price and Where to Buy: Chamberlain MyQ-Garage Door Opener from $99 on Amazon

A Safe


You should declutter every inch of your property, down to the closets, if you’re turning your house into a rental—but some small items might need to stay in your vacation rental home and be locked away. Install a safe box or two that can hide any items you don’t want your guests to have access to, like tools, spare keys, and valuables. Mounted wall versions like Paragon’s Electronic Wall Safe could be hidden behind wall features and save you lots of grief. For an easier fix, attach another combination dead bolt to a closet to reserve it for off-limits storage.

Price and Where to Buy: Paragon 7750 Electronic Wall Safe from $67 on Amazon

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While vacation rental home sites like Airbnb and HomeAway will usually cover damages, you should also have your own rental insurance in case something goes awry that the service won’t cover. Airbnb now covers hosts for up to $1 million if guests damage the property or get hurt, but certain incidents like personal injury or terrorism aren’t covered. Talk to your insurance company about turning your home into a rental, and ask what additional coverage you might need.

Plenty of Sheets and Towels

Don’t skimp on the necessities: Keep an abundance of sheets and towels on hand in your vacation rental home in case you need extras for new guests. Having plenty of linens means you can get away with doing laundry a little less often. Plus, a lack of sheets and towels is sure to get your listing some negative reviews.

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Editor’s Note: Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product. If you have any questions or comments concerning our reviews, or would like to suggest a product for review, please email us at

By Shannon McMahon

Editor Shannon McMahon is always planning her next trip and often writing in her travel journal. Follow her on Twitter @shanmcmahon_ and on Instagram @shanmcmahon.

Shannon joined SmarterTravel in 2015. A former news reporter, she's lived in the south of Spain, spotted elephants in Sri Lanka, gone spelunking in the Caribbean, hiked Jordan's Petra Basin, interviewed Sao Paulo's Michelin-Star chefs, and explored China via bullet train. Travel trends, news oddities, and her visits to up-and-coming destinations are some of her favorite things to write about.

Her stories have also appeared online on USA Today, The Sun, Huffington Post, Business Insider,,, and more. Her educational background is in journalism, art history, gender studies, Spanish, and film. She's been quoted as an expert travel source by CNBC,, MarketWatch, The Washington Post, USA Today, and more.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "Plenty of extra thick hair elastics. They tame my frizzy curls and come in handy in a surprising number of packing and hotel dilemmas."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "Climbing (yes, climbing, it's steep!) the Great Wall of China before it's gone."

Travel Motto: "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness." - Mark Twain

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Window, of course."

Email Shannon at

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