Planning ahead with an owner's lockout closet

    create an owner's closet at your vacation rentalWhen converting your second home into a vacation rental, it's important to find a balance between personal convenience and guest comfort. While you don't want your guests to feel like they're invading someone else's private space, it's important that you have access to personal things when you visit, too.

    The best way to keep personal items at your vacation rental without sharing them with everyone who visits is to create an owner's closet. You can keep anything that you don’t want your renters to see or use behind closed doors. All you have to do is swap out the regular doorknob for one lockable by key.

    Which closet should you choose?
    The best option is an extra linen closet in the hallway, garage, or basement. Be wary of choosing a utility closet — local safety codes have specific guidelines about this. Also, try not to use the closet in the master bedroom because your guests will expect to have full access to everything in the master. If you must use a bedroom closet, be sure to provide a wardrobe or armoire for your guests to use in lieu of the actual closet.

    Also, try to avoid choosing a closet in a bedroom frequently occupied by kids. The curiosity factor of a locked door is likely to add additional stress to the door jamb as kids try to peak and pry their way in. If you don't have a closet that will work, consider buying a lockable storage cabinet.

    Who should have a key?
    You should create at least three copies of the closet key: one for yourself, one for your housekeeper, and one to be hidden in your vacation home in case of emergencies (e.g. renters show up and your home isn't clean, power outage, etc.).

    What should you keep in your owner's lockout closet?
    • Personal toiletries
    • Personal bedding
    • Laundry detergent
    • Cleaning supplies
    • Extra supplies that your housekeeper needs on hand (e.g. shower curtains, dishes, glasses, pillows, etc.)
    • Non-perishable food items
    • Clothes you want to keep at your vacation rental
    • Personal hair dryers, curling irons, electric razors
    • Any other personal items you don’t want to transport back and forth to your primary home
    More ideas
    • Consider adding a dorm-size refrigerator to leave food items with longer shelf lives such as mayonnaise and butter.
    • Some owners suggest that you make welcome baskets in advance and store them in your owner’s lockout closet. This way they’re convenient for your housekeeper to set out, and you know that they’re complete and on-site.
    • Photograph the inside of your owner’s closet and post the photo on the door. You would be amazed at how effectively this appeases the curiosity of kiddos who are just dying to know “what’s behind that door?”
    • The goal in creating a closet of your own is to make your home a convenient retreat for your family. With a little extra front-end planning, you will save your family countless pieces of luggage and extra trips to the store in the years to come.

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