Every first-time vacation rental property owner / manager will find themselves asking what their responsibilities are before listing. Are there any legal requirements? What should I provide my guests with? What is expected of me? We’ll stop there before we start getting existential.

The point is this: you have some obligations as a property manager. Firstly, you need to ensure your property is safe to stay in. Secondly, you need to provide your guests with everything they need to have a comfortable stay.

This checklist will help you meet these requirements and exceed expectations.

Vacation Rental Property Preparation Checklist

I. Safety & Local Ordinances

Before we address any of these items, it should be noted that fire safety and property ordinances are locally governed. The checklists below are general requirements that you’d expect to find anywhere in the US, but these conditions may vary elsewhere. In countries where the requirements are more relaxed, a little more safety would never go unappreciated.

It is recommended that you contact your local governments for complete code requirements. To obtain your property’s specific requirements, safety & ordinance codes are kept by your local fire department and county/city clerk’s office (respectively).

Fire Safety

  • Smoke Detectors
    1 per floor / 1 per bedroom, kitchen, hallway between bedrooms
  • Carbon Monoxide Detectors
    1 per floor
  • Fire Extinguisher
    placement and specs must meet local code
  • Illuminated Property Address
  • Locking Metal Ash Cans for Fireplace / BBQ

Property Inspection

  • Hand Railings
    Required for 4+ steps
  • Outlets w/ Switchplates
    This is not required everywhere, check before you do the work
  • Single-Key Deadbolt
    Double-key deadbolts are not acceptable
  • Bedroom Screens
    Some ordinances even specify acceptable mesh sizes 😐
  • Child Safety
    No gaps in railings over 4″
  • Properly Housed Electrical Wiring
    Nothing can be exposed. Extension cords for appliances are also specified in some ordinances.
  • Chimney Cleared
    No branches growing into or above.


  • Maximum: 16
    This may vary by location, but the most common ordinance calls for a maximum of 16 allowed occupants in a single vacation rental home.

II. Rental Necessities

Guest Information

  • Contact Numbers
    Emergency numbers (poison control, 911, ambulance, etc), as well as non-emergency lines for the fire department and local authorities can also be provided. Property management contacts should also be included – that most likely means your number. It’s also a nice gesture to include a number for a local doctor.
  • Local Supplies & Attractions
    Directions and/or a map to local grocery stores, pharmacies, and any other necessities. You may also wish to include a couple local restaurants or takeout menus.
  • House Instructions
    Provide information regarding door-locking procedures, codes, extra keys, etc. If there are any operation procedures that may not be immediately obvious, they may be appreciated as well.

Basic Amenities & Supplies

  • Linens & Towels
    For shorter bookings, it is still recommended that extra linens and towels are provided. For longer bookings, ensure that an exchange for fresh linens & towels is be made at regular intervals.
  • First-Aid Kit
  • Garbage Bags
  • Kitchen Cleaning Items
    Dish towels, dish soap, paper towels, cleaning solutions, broom, dustpan, mop, bucket, etc.
  • Kitchen Utensils
    Basic utensils: plates, bowls, spoons, forks, knives, etc. Cooking utensils: pots, pans, spatula, cutting board, strainer, etc. Small appliances: toaster, microwave, blender, coffee machine, etc.
  • Toiletries
    Hand soap, shampoo / conditioner, mouthwash/toothpaste/extra toiletries (are appreciated). Replenish-able items are a must here – your guests do not want used bars of soap.
  • Bathroom Cleaning Supplies
    Plunger, brush, bleach-based cleaner. Most people feel more comfortable handling their own…business.

Scheduled Services

  • Garbage Pickup
  • Landscaping
  • Cleaning / Laundry
  • Cable, WiFi

For more information, check out the Beginner’s Guide to Vacation Rental Management. If you’re ready to move on to your property’s listing, you’ll want to read through these Airbnb Tips and Airbnb SEO guides. Additional vacation rental management checklists can be found on the HomeAway Community site.