By Catherine Powell
|Image courtesy Pixabay|
If you own an RV, you realize that while it’s a great way to enjoy the great outdoors, your camper spends most of its time parked in the driveway. Since the cost of financing, maintaining, and storing an RV adds up, perhaps you have been toying with the idea of renting it out to help recover some of what you spend on it. There's an entire industry that has sprung up to help RV owners rent out their drivable and towable campers. If you’ve been thinking about renting out your RV, there are a few things you need to know before you sign up.
Who you gonna call? – Before you start renting out your pride and joy, you need to decide on which online portal is going to help you facilitate the transaction. Currently, the two most popular RV rental portals are RVshare and Outdoorsy. Both of these companies specialize in helping RV owners navigate the rental process. Their websites attract huge numbers of people who are interested in renting RVs. They have a tried-and-true process that allows RV owners to create listings that help them show their campers to the public. More importantly, they help owners screen potential renters, secure payment, collect security deposits, and protect both owner and renter. If you’ve ever rented your home through Airbnb, then you understand the peace of mind that an experienced peer-to-peer rental portal can bring to the equation. You also realize that companies that facilitate the rental process also expect to be compensated for their time and trouble. While both companies offer similar services, the devil is in the details. It’s up to you to decide which portal best meets your needs. This means comparing everything from their fees and services to their online reviews. If you want a leg up on the process, here's a link to an online article by familytravelfever.com that can help streamline the process.
Is your RV ready to enter the rental market? – Before you rush to rent your RV, you need to make sure it's up to snuff mechanically. If your camper has been sitting in the driveway for a year or more, chances are it isn’t in tip-top mechanical condition. If you want the public to rent your vehicle, you’ll need to make sure it is roadworthy. If it should break down during a rental, you can rest assured that the renter is going to give you a poor rating. This in turn can have a negative effect on your ability to book future rentals. If you intend on renting your RV out on a regular basis, you should look into the cost of monthly or quarterly maintenance. If nothing else, you should get your RV checked out by a capable mechanic before you rent it out.
Is your insurance coverage up to snuff? – While both RVshare and Outdoorsy offer extended insurance coverage to owners, you owe it to yourself to contact your insurance agent to make sure your existing policy covers any gaps that could leave you holding the bag should your camper be damaged or destroyed. Suffice it to say that it's doubtful your existing coverage will cover you if you rent your camper out. Commercial rental coverage may cost a bit more than a standard RV policy, but it could make a huge difference should anything untoward happen to your camper that causes property damage or bodily injury to a third party. Remember that most RV renters have much less experience maneuvering a motorhome or travel trailer than an owner does.
What do you need to do to prep your RV for a rental? – Other than making sure your camper is mechanically sound, there are a few other things you need to do to prepare your RV for the rental market. Since eye appeal is buy appeal, the first thing you need to do is clean your camper inside and out. That means scrubbing it out, removing all personal belongings, and cleaning the bedding, blankets, and towels, plus vacuuming the carpets and upholstery. Nobody wants to rent a dirty RV. You’ll also want to make sure the tires and gas tank are full before you turn the keys over to a renter.
What else do you need to do before turning your RV to a renter? – Other than taking a renter for a quick tour of your camper, you should find out how much experience they have driving an RV. A short driving lesson from you could mean the difference between having your camper returned in pristine condition and having it come back damaged. If your RV is towable, verify that their vehicle and hitch are capable of safely towing your camper before renting it out. Ask the renters how many people are going to be staying aboard your RV and ask where they plan on going and staying. (This should include any pets the renters are planning on taking with them.) Knowing the number of miles a renter plans to put on your RV and whether they plan on staying at full-service campsites will give you an idea of the potential wear and tear your RV is likely to experience. Tell any renters what they need to do before they return the RV to you. Last but not least, discuss who is and is not permitted to drive your vehicle and what to do should they have an accident.
What is your cancellation policy? – Something you also want to discuss with renters in advance is what your cancellation policies are and what it will mean if a renter bows out of a deal or decides to come back early. You’ll also need to talk to potential renters about any security deposits and whether they’re refundable or nonrefundable. No renter wants to find out that they're going to be out a chunk of change because they didn’t understand the terms of the rental agreement before they drove your camper away. Make sure you explain what condition you expect a renter to return your RV and what could happen if they don’t follow the terms of the rental agreement to the letter.
Is the customer always right? – Not necessarily. Just remember, while you may own the RV, if you want to earn an income by renting it out, you need to make sure that you not only protect your rights but keep renters satisfied so they’ll give you a glowing review. If a renter has a beef with you in any way, it’s vital to address any grievance before it winds up making its way online. Nothing reduces future rental income faster than one-star ratings. Too many complaints could even cause your listing to be dropped by the RV portal.
Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida. To find out more about saving money on all your insurance needs, check out her website at http://aplusallfloridainsuranceinc.com/