If you buy it, they will come.

Nothing you’ll ever do will bring your family together like owning a select property on Cape Cod. Family members will drive or even fly hours to spend quality time with you — or without you — at your beautiful Cape home. And if you want or need to generate good income from Cape Cod summer rentals, that can cause some issues.

For example:

Your cousin Ramona can’t tell you which week.

She and her family want to come, but like any family, they can’t be sure of their schedule. Little League might be over by that third week of July – but Sammy’s team might make the playoffs, you know?

Meanwhile, you’ve had rental inquiries from paying guests ready to book that week, but you can’t take the reservation. So those folks move on to a property where they can lock in their Cape vacation. If this scenario plays out long enough, you could be left with open weeks generating no income, when without the family indecision, you would have been fully booked for the summer.

Your niece Amanda left a small beach in her bedroom.

She must have hauled things back to the house every day – dozens of shells (some still occupied and becoming rather aromatic), stones, small driftwood, nests of seaweed, a couple milk jugs, a fishing lure and roughly 75 pounds of sand. Her parents knew you wanted her to have fun, and she did. And because they’re family, they really don’t feel obligated to pick up and clean up too much. That sticky spill in the freezer isn’t too bad, is it? Heck, you’ve got a cleaning service, right?

Whenever we see a week or two on the schedule for a property when family members are in occupancy, our antenna goes up. We alert the cleaning service that they may face a larger than normal challenge on the turnover day. And we have our own people standing by in case there’s a need for reinforcements.

Your sister Shirley can’t tell time.

Check out time at your property is 10 a.m. Let’s say the cleaning service arrives at 11:15 and there are still cars in the driveway.

“Oh,” they’re told, “we’re family, so we thought we’d stay through lunch. Can you come back later?”

As you can imagine, this sort of thing is more than a small problem for the cleaners. They barely have time to clean the multiple properties on their schedule, let alone turn the schedule upside down so they can “come back later.”
Then we get to explain to the arriving guests that the property isn’t going to be ready quite by 3 pm, which their lease stipulates. Very bad for business.

Of course you love your family. Of course you want to accommodate them and have them enjoy your Cape property as much as you do. But if you also rent, you really need to manage their expectations, making it crystal clear that:

You can’t wait forever to find out which week or weeks they’ll be staying there. You have to set a deadline and stick to it. So you can rent the other weeks in a timely fashion.

They have to behave like your paying guests and pick the place up when they depart. Your cleaning service can’t be expected to work miracles when a property is left in bad shape – just because it’s family.

They have to stick to the schedule and depart promptly by 10 am. Family or no family, there is still only a five-hour window for cleaning on a turnover day.

To be sure, managing your Cape Cod rentals around family occupancies, and frankly, some non-paying friends as well, is no piece of cake. If you’ve struggled with the challenge, you’ll probably appreciate what George Burns had to say about family:

“Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family. In another city.”