There’s a lot to do at a cottage in the spring – putting in the dock is probably the biggest task, but there’s a myriad of other tasks to attend to before the first renter arrives at the door.

Aside from the obvious ones of a thorough spring cleaning, raking leaves, cutting grass, cleaning decks and windows, patio furniture, here are ten that may not be on your ‘to-do list’ yet:

1 Barbecues

Aside from a good cleaning, check that the burners are heating evenly.  Barbecues take a lot of abuse during the summer months and burners frequently are the first element to need replacing.

Gas lines – also tend to crack with age and should be checked every year.

Drip pans – need cleaning or replacing – and should be checked during the season as well

Make sure there are two full tanks – one on the BBQ and one spare.  Many of our owners keep a third one in a locked shed.  That way if they come to check on the cottage and see one is empty – they can leave the third one and take the empty home to refill instead of having to run into town to get it filled.

Check the utensils.  Especially the BBQ brush and replace as needed.


2 Fire Safety

There should be at least one fire extinguisher prominently displayed in the kitchen and/or near the BBQ.

All properties need to have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors/alarms.  It’s the law in Ontario that all residential dwellings have this equipment.


Water Safety

All watercraft must have safety equipment – even paddleboats, canoe’s, kayaks.  You can purchase a safety bucket with the required elements (bailer, rope, whistle etc.) from Canadian Tire or other hardware and boating supply stores.


Cottage Manual

If you haven’t already done so, create a binder to leave at the cottage for guests.  It should have a copy of your most current “Cottage Instructions”, any additional manuals for operation of equipment like satellite TV remotes, hot tubs and perhaps what to do in the event of a power failure, etc., along with some notes and brochures on local attractions, restaurants, marinas, shopping etc.  If you have a manual – good idea to review to make sure all the information is current.


Garbage Removal

Check the township dump hours and instructions to see if they’ve changed and if so, update your Cottage Instructions and post the new notes at the cottage – on the ‘fridge door is the usual place.


Checking the lock box

Make sure the lock box is in working order and that the code is the one you are providing to renters.  It’s also a good idea to hide a spare key somewhere on the property – in case a guest loses the lock box key – or the lock box jams.


Empty Space

One of the most frequent comments we get from renters is about the lack of space for their food & clothing.  Clear out the ‘fridge/freezer completely.  Don’t leave anything.  Clear out a cupboard or two in the kitchen for their food stuff – it’s ok to leave some staples, spices etc., but space is required as well.  Try to have all closets and dressers empty, ditto for bathroom shelves.  Other than cleaning supplies of course.


Emergency Equipment

Hydro power goes out frequently in Cottage Country.  Have a few battery-operated flashlights and lanterns (no kerosene) available.  We don’t recommend candles either – other than the battery-operated ones.

First Aid Box – just a basic one, placed in a prominent place in the kitchen or bathroom – is a great idea.


Post It

It’s a good idea to laminate and post notes in the appropriate places with information everyone in the party needs to know.  For example – we provide owners with laminated “What not to Flush” notes to post in the bathroom and a laminated ‘Welcome Guests” note to post on the ‘fridge with some ‘hot button’ items.  But feel free to make some notes about other need-to-know things – like operating the hot tub, operating the remote/satellite, garbage instructions.


10 Welcoming Note

This isn’t a must-do but leaving a welcoming note for the incoming renters is a nice touch and will help make them feel appreciated.  Some owners also leave a little welcoming gift – a bottle of wine, some treats.  One owner we know always sent over a freshly baked pie from the local bakery.  Yum!