Should You Rent Out Your RV For Extra Money?
There are both pros and cons to renting out your RV or travel trailer. New online technology has made it possible for any private parties to connect with each other. The technology exists today to easily connect RV renters with willing RV owners, much like Airbnb connects renters with homeowners who are willing to rent out their homes.
Gone are the days when rental companies controlled all the RV rental income. Now two private parties: one who owns an RV and another who is looking for a rental, can connect with each other, negotiate dates, terms, price, etc. and transact their business without corporate oversight.
For the owner, it can be a great way to make extra money rather than keeping the RV in storage all winter. For the RVer, it can be the ideal and affordable way to travel without dealing with an RV rental company.
RV rental companies
There are a few private RV rental companies on the market including RVShare and RVezy. If you are looking to rent out your RV, these services make it easy to upload photos, set your price and specific terms. Renters with RVezy can travel in comfort knowing they offer 24/7 roadside assistance as well as full insurance coverage.
Overview from the renter’s perspective
A renter can find virtually any type of RV for rent, from tiny teardrop trailers to 40-foot toy hauler fifth wheels, brand new Class A motorhomes, and even vintage travel trailers. The prices range from under a hundred dollars a night to nearly $600 per night and additional fees apply, like excess mileage, excess generator usage, and insurance costs. Also, each rental will require a damage deposit from the renter.
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That is an overview of what renters can expect to find when using one of these services, but what are the pros and cons of renting your RV from the owner’s perspective?
The pros of renting out your RV
The obvious advantage of renting out your RV is the opportunity to generate some extra cash from an asset that might otherwise be costing you storage fees or mortgage payments every month.
Additionally, if you only use your RV part-time and the rest of the time it’s parked on your property or it’s in storage, that idle time is not necessarily good for your RV. The batteries run down. The interior can become damp and musty, and you’re probably paying for insurance all year, even in the months when you don’t use it.
Could you rent it often enough in the off-season to forgo winterization?
If you aren’t going to use it in the winter months and it’s not in the rental pool, then you’ll probably need to winterize your rig and figure out how to protect it in inclement weather. But if your RV is being rented throughout the winter, it doesn’t need to be winterized, or tarped, or stored in a covered lot, and the extra income you receive from the rental will pay for the insurance.
Your rig will still be available to you when you’re ready to go camping but it won’t just be sitting there sucking up your hard-earned cash all those months when you don’t need it. It’s like having a vacation rental or an Airbnb rental property. You own it and you can use when you need it, but the property generates enough extra revenue that it’s not draining your reserves.
The cons of renting out your RV
There are several things that need to be considered before you put your RV in a rental pool. With the exception of the simplest of teardrop or vintage trailers, the systems and operation of the typical RV can be quite complex. There are slides, and jacks, and inverters, and generators.
Some rigs have battery packs and solar panels, or detachable propane tanks or even portable generators, and there is a right way and a wrong way to utilize all of this equipment, not to mention the proper use of the gray and black water holding tanks.
We’ve owned a Class A RV since 1999, we bought a new one in 2019, went through the new owner orientation to learn about every system in our new rig, but eleven months later we are still discovering things about our new RV that were not covered in the orientation, or we had forgotten.
How much more bewildering would it be to someone who has never owned or operated an RV, until they climbed in your rig and drove away for the first time? That thought makes me shudder. Will they remember to close the black tank shut-off valve before taking the hose off? Will they remember to put the jacks down and get your rig level before putting out the slides, or will they remember to bring the slides in before pulling up the jacks?
The biggest downside of putting your RV in the rental pool is letting someone who knows nothing about RVing, has never towed or driven a big rig, and has no ownership interest in it, take your valuable asset to who knows where.
If the RV is drivable like a Class A, B, B+ or C RV, this concern is magnified, because of the added width and height of some of these RVs, but travel trailers and 5th wheels also require driving finesse and a lot of care when being backed into a campsite or even maneuvering around gas pumps. Many fifth wheels are even taller than the tallest Class A motorhome, and forgetting about that extra height just one time can result in extensive damage to a rented RV.
RV rental insurance
Of course, the RV rental organizations require the purchase of RV insurance to cover both the RV owner’s asset, as well as the renter, and there is an additional damage deposit required at the time of the rental, but there may be damage you never see and that is the issue that concerns me the most.
Body damage is obvious, but the improper use of the slide controls can damage or cause a premature breakdown of the slide motors. Draining lead/acid batteries below 50%, driving long distance over washboard gravel roads, and pulling the slides in without vacuuming up the grit and pebbles that can scratch the floor, are all things that can damage your rig, but are not readily apparent when the RV is returned.
Should you rent out your RV?
Everyone is different. People have different tolerances for risk and adding your RV to a rental pool might be the perfect way to recoup some of your investment. I’ve read many reviews and for the most part, people seem to be happy with this arrangement.
Some people don’t want to own an RV but they are willing to spend a few thousand dollars for a memory-making road-trip, and some people have an RV that they are not using all the time and they are happy to share their equipment with the rental population. Now the apps and technology make it possible for these people to connect.