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Renting out your cottage can help defray costs of ownership. Here's how

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Many cottage owners are choosing properties from which they can draw a secondary income. But in order to rent, you need to decide how you want to market your cottage or cabin. There are two main choices: do it yourself or hire an agency.

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Do it yourself: By far, the most popular way to advertise yourself is to list your cottage on a website. There are large national sites - such as CottageCountry.com and cottagelink.com - as well as hundreds of local and provincial alternatives. Prices can range from $55 to $200 per year for website listings.

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Mark Bordo of CottageCountry.com, which charges $199 for a full year’s listing, says the average cottage on his site rents for $1,500 a week, so owners get a huge return on their investment. The site offers tips on how to market your cottage, and allows renters to pay through the website with a credit card.

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The biggest worry for vacation property owners, Mr. Bordo says, is “knowing who is staying at their home.” The site helps owners alleviate those concerns by allowing a 48-hour window to approve or decline would-be renters, so owners can check the information they are given. Cottage owners can also set up their own website, to provide more pictures and details and describe what’s going on in the area.

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There are free alternatives as well - putting up posters in supermarkets, using work intranets and letting friends and neighbours know that you have a cottage for rent. There’s also kijiji.ca, a free listings site, but you need to do the screening and routinely update your listing.

Globe and Mail

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Hire a rental agency: Heather Bayer, a blogger for cottage owners at cotttageblogger.com and owner of Ontario-based CottageLink Rental Management, says there are two types of agencies - rental and full-service. Rental agencies like hers usually charge a booking fee of about $50 to $95, and then about 20 per cent of your rental income. In return, they give “peace of mind,” she says by listing and marketing your cottage.

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Rental agencies screen renters, handle inquiries, book the cottage, take care of rental agreements and arrange financial transactions. You just need to provide the cottage and keep it clean and maintained. If you want the agency to do everything, there are a few full-service agencies around, but expect to pay up to 40 per cent of rental income for that service.

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