For Ontario cottage owners, the waterfront vacation, whether it’s for a weekend or a week, is usually a simple matter of getting in the car, acquiring some groceries along the way, and arriving to your home away from home. Everything as you left it – all of your expectations met.

For those who are not fortunate enough to own a lakefront cottage but wishing to rent, the opportunities are many. There are lots of listing sites and agencies promoting vacation rentals in Ontario’s Cottage Country and selecting the perfect cottage from among the many options can be trying.

Regardless of where you find your ‘perfect’ cottage rental, there are some things you should be cognizant of before you make that commitment. Here are 10 things you should know before you take the plunge.

Legitimate Listing – Are you dealing with a legitimate company or the actual property owner? There are known scams where cottage photos from another listing site have been used to create a fraudulent rental listing. Arriving to a cottage only to find out the owners have never listed the cottage for rent is a bad way to start your holiday.

Occupancy –  Make sure you understand how many guests are allowed at your rental cottage and that your requirements can be fully met. Many cottages, like those with septic systems, were never designed to accommodate 10 or more persons, every day and every night for 10 – 12 weeks in the summer. That’s a lot of use. As a result, many cottage owners will be conservative when setting maximum occupancy numbers to avoid problems that could occur with overuse.

Pets – If you have a pet that you’ll be taking on vacation, make sure the cottage allows pets. Some cottage owners that allow pets may have restrictions on the number of pets they’ll allow at the cottage at one time. Do you have a family member with severe pet allergies? Don’t assume that a cottage that does not allow pets will be safe for those with allergies. There are many cottage owners that have pets themselves but do not allow renters to bring their pets. This is often the result of a bad experience with a former renter or it’s due to concern about damages.

Location – Check out the general location of the cottage on a map. There are a lot of Clear, Sandy, Eagle and Loon Lakes in Ontario. You wouldn’t want to find out you booked a cottage on Eagle Lake near Dryden or South River when you thought it was the Eagle Lake in Haliburton.

Photos – Do the photos provide you with a complete view of the property, inside and out? Is there a room missing or are there angles and views that are obviously missed that you would like to see? It is always better to have a large selection of photos to view as they all contribute to visualizing yourself on holiday in the cottage and at the waterfront, eliminating the unexpected.

Additional Charges –  Make sure you understand how much you are paying for the rental and what, if any, additional fees there may be. Some cottages have optional or mandatory cleaning charges, sometimes they are included in the rental rate. Some agencies such as ours have a per-booking service charge and offer optional cancellation. All charges along with any applicable taxes should all be spelled out prior to your committing to a rental agreement.

Currency and Payment – In which currency the cottage rates are quoted. Some large sites that deal with a large international audience set rates in USD. When booking a typical vacation, it is usually necessary to have to pay a deposit of 30% to 50% on the holiday at the time of booking with the balance/full payment required 4 – 6 weeks prior to the vacation itself. This is typical when arranging a cottage rental.

What’s Provided and What’s Not Provided – Make sure you’re clear on what is provided at the cottage. This will make packing much easier, allowing you to bring items that may not be there for your use. Just as important, perhaps more so, is knowing what is not available at a cottage. If you need something like WIFI access and it’s not clear, you need to ask. A good listing will not only tell you what is provided but it will also identify what, amongst often requested or expected features, are not available.

Cottage Preparedness – Is the cottage checked/prepared prior to your arrival and is it checked at the end of your stay? You should be arriving to a cottage that has been prepared for your arrival, not one that has just been vacated by a previous renter. Sometime guests do not leave a cottage in ‘arrival’ condition. And likewise, your rental cottage should be checked after your stay and prior to the next to verify that you’ve left it as expected.

Contact Information – Will you be provided the contact information for the owner or their local contact person in the event you need assistance while at the cottage? If you’re using an agency, they may be your first call but calling the owner direct is usually a quicker way to have an issue resolved. You never know when a water pump may act up or a vital appliance needs attention.

At we strive to provide extensive, accurate and up-to-date  information about our cottages and provide a seamless transaction from the website experience, through the booking process to the holiday experience itself.