Last Updated on March 14, 2023 by Jessica Lauren Vine
It is a great time to have a side hustle by renting out your RV. Having a secondary source of income that comes from a hobby turned profitable, from a business idea, or from putting a resource you already own to work is pretty cool.
Lots of people have discovered that they can make extra money by renting out items they own, creating income from something that might otherwise sit unused for long periods of time. For RV or Travel Trailer owners, renting out your RV can be a great way to generate a secondary income stream or just reduce the cost of an expensive toy.
Some great resources have sprung up on the web to help RV owners manage the rental of their rigs. Just like Airbnb or VRBO make it easy for people to rent out their homes, sites like RVShare and Outdoorsy give RV owners the tools they need to run a fun and profitable rental business.
Of course, there are pros and cons to renting out any personal property. Some of these might be obvious while others may not, but with a little education, preparation, and planning, the cons can be managed so that the risks are far outweighed by the rewards.
The Cons of Renting Out Your RV
The biggest concern with loaning or renting any personal item to another person is that they will not take care of it as if it was their own. Or they will, which might just be worse. However, by putting a big deposit requirement in place and making the rules clear, owners can give their renters some incentive to return the vehicle in good condition.
Here are some of the other cons or concerns potential rental owners may face.
Wear and Tear
A big downside to renting out an RV or trailer that might otherwise sit unused is the extra wear and tear that happens even if renters care for the vehicle and no damage occurs. The extra use creates additional wear on moving parts, more frequent replacement for general maintenance items like windshield wipers, and faster wear on parts like tires and brakes.
There are ways to control some of that expense, such as creating daily mileage limits for rental trips, but the effects of the extra should be considered before choosing to rent out a rig.
Damage and Accidents
There is always the chance that something gets broken in an RV, either through wear, misuse, or just general failure. However, accidents also happen – big and small.
Some bigger accidents can happen due to a renter’s poor driving skills or inexperience, while others can happen through no fault of the renter at all. Small accidents, such as a broken window or dent, may not be enough to take the RV out of the rental pool for long, while bigger problems can mean that vehicle is out of the rental pool for the rest of the season.
Rental sites like Outdoorsy provide insurance to owners to protect them from unexpected repair costs. Even bigger charges from collisions are usually covered, and owners can require that renters pay for even more coverage when they reserve the RV.
There are other companies that will provide coverage for rented RVs, even in the event of a total loss. However, it is important to remember that the one thing insurance won’t cover is the loss of revenue while the rig is being repaired.
Cleaning, Maintenance, and Preparation
If the RV will be in use more often, it will need to be cleaned and maintained more often as well. Each rig needs a good scrubbing between every rental just like a hotel room, and there are regular maintenance requirements too.
Oil and other fluids need to be properly checked and topped off when necessary, waste tanks need to be dumped out, and water tanks must be topped off between each rental.
Some of this overhead can be reduced by hiring a service to handle the cleaning tasks and by requiring the RV to be returned with full or empty tanks as expected. It helps to include a service fee that is charged when those requirements are not met.
Preparation time and tasks can also be reduced by requiring renters to bring their own sheets and towels. Many renters prefer to do that anyway.
Hand-offs at Departure and Return
Every rig is different, both by design and by personality. Like many vehicles, there may be a certain process that ensures the vehicle will start easily each time or there might be a certain way to operate a feature that helps protect it from being damaged.
It’s important to be personally hand off the RV to each renter in order to provide instructions and guidance. This helps newer renters, but it also ensures more experienced renters understand the rig’s less obvious features, options, and personality quirks.
Meeting each renter at both pick-up and drop-off doesn’t have to take long, but it can be disruptive if you have a full-time job. However, this can help to reduce or eliminate requests for help when something is unclear or has been forgotten.
Some of this time can be reduced by putting together a binder with photos and instructions covering the rig’s features and equipment. This is also a good way to make sure basic dos and don’ts are easy to find.
No matter what help is available to the renters, it is still necessary for the owner to go through the pick-up and drop-off procedure on each end of the rental. For someone with a full-time job, scheduling those events can be difficult.
Most RV or travel trailer owners leave personal items onboard to make trip departures as simple as climbing on board and hitting the road. By leaving the rig equipped with clothing, supplies, electronic devices, and all of the other accessories that make the rig feel like home, it’s easy to take off for a long weekend away without the need to pack and unpack.
Although it may be possible to put a lock on some of the closets and drawers to protect what’s in them, there is still the possibility of theft or damage by renters or guests.
For RV owners who rent out their rigs, it is usually easier to leave the RV stocked only with accessories intended for use by renters and leave the personal items home. That can mean it takes longer to hit the road, and the RV doesn’t feel quite like home.
However, like all of the other cons listed above, these trade-offs can be worthwhile.
The Cons of Renting Out Your RV
The biggest and most obvious benefit to renting out an RV is the extra income, although the increased exposure to other RV enthusiasts can also lead to new friendships and unexpected adventures. Renters can become friends, creating new bridges between people and places that might never have been found otherwise.
The amount of income generated by renting an RV is in the owner’s hands and depends partly on how much they would like to use the rig themselves and partly on how much they would like to make it available for rent.
When rented less, an RV can bring in enough money to pay for its own storage and maintenance costs, offsetting that overhead for the owner.
When rented more, especially in warmer areas with longer seasons, an RV can generate enough income to pay for the owner’s own trips, cover the costs of improvements and upgrades, and even pull in profit that can be used to purchase a second rig to rent out as well.
Like any resource or personal property, it can be hard to turn something over to strangers for their own personal use. Especially when the property in question is something as big and expensive as an RV or trailer.
However, when that resource can generate a substantial amount of return on the relatively small amount of time and effort invested, then it is definitely worth considering.
Renting Out Your RV – Conclusion
Now you know more about renting out your RV. Some of you probably want to run for the hills and never think about renting out your RV, while others of you are ready to jump in and start making some cash. Honestly, it all depends on your risk tolerance and how much you tend to worry about things.
Renting out your RV can be a great way to make some extra cash, but that doesn’t help too much if you just worry about things all of the time.
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