With the Kentucky Derby being just around the corner, many property owners are looking to capitalize on the inevitable influx of domestic and international tourists to Louisville. In recent years, more and more property owners are temporarily transforming their homes into short term rentals and capitalizing on visitors’ willingness to pay premium prices for accommodations.Wendover Avenue Kitchen

Unfortunately, preparing your home for incoming Kentucky Derby guests isn’t as easy as you may think. In what can be described as Louisville’s biggest weekend of the year, there are many factors to consider before your home is ready for that all-important first guest. By following these simple, effective steps, you can do your part in providing a true Louisville experience and serve your own version of Southern hospitality. And besides, we want to make sure they come back next year, too!

We advise registering your home with Airbnb or Vrbo.

Short Term Rental Checklist


1. The first step on your Short Term Rental Checklist is to understand the law. Many cities within Louisville still do not allow short-term rentals at all. Some cities turn a blind eye at Derby, but other HOAs and COAs maintain strict no-rental policies. Additionally, be sure to check with city and HOA officials to ensure you are operating within the law. Here is a guide we have created to better-understand short-term rental zoning in Louisville.

2. Once you’ve received the OK, it’s time to register with Metro Louisville. Some areas, such as St. Matthews, Indian Hills, Jeffersontown, and others will not be allowed to register because STRs are technically illegal, meaning you may not receive authorization to rent your house for Derby. Also, Airbnb now requires a valid registration number on your listing to be able to activate. Here is an article that provides more information on how to register your property with Louisville Metro.

First Impressions and Presentation

Brew and View

3. Less means more! Be sure to clear out everything but the essential items that your guests will likely need. As a result, each room of the property will feel clean, open and spacious and greatly improve the marketability of the property. Some things are essential. Here is a comprehensive guide of what to include in your Derby short-term rental.

4. Be sure that your guests are walking into a spotless and pristine property by providing a deep clean in all areas. Specifically, be sure to get all areas that a normal cleaning routine may overlook. With so many places to consider and with the amount of time it takes to do a thorough job, it might be worth looking into an external cleaning service.

Safety First

5. With an investigative eye, talk a walk around your property and identify anything that could be hazardous (such as loose wires). Once identified, take the steps to ensure the maximum safety of your guests and remove the hazard. 

6. Protect yourself and your valuables. Prior to the arrival of your first guests, be sure to lock away any personal and valuable items that are of great importance to you. This could include family pictures, jewelry, mail, tax/banking information, and/or firearms.

That same protection extends to your personal liability as well. Be sure to have a discussion with your insurance agent to make sure you are covered in the event of an accident. Interestingly, some homeowners policies exclude any type of short-term rental activity, while others have riders that can be added at no additional cost.  

Short Term Rental Amenities and Must-Haves

Bed in Property

7. After a couple of late nights and a day at the track, your guests are going to be begging for a comfortable, calming place to sleep. Therefore, be sure there is a comfortable bed available with inviting pillows and high-quality bed sheets. A good night’s sleep will likely get a great review!

8. Consider leaving disposable eye-masks and ear plugs for your guests should they wish to use these. If you like in an area with an occasional late night train, early morning garbage truck, or airplane flyover, consider white noise machines for the bedrooms to help mask these noises.

9. With the excitement of the Derby being at the forefront of your guests’ mind, there is a chance they’ve forgotten to pack a few things. Consider leaving basic toiletries for your guests and save them a trip to the store. This thoughtfulness could leave a lasting impression on your guests and be enough to solidify that five-star review!

10. What is second nature to you, isn’t to them! Whether it is instructions on how to connect to the Wi-Fi, how to use the shower or how to operate other major appliances, leave your guests with instructions that they will need to know. You want their stay to be effortless, not difficult!

A Splash of Louisville Love

11. It is likely that your guest is new to the city. Consider leaving Louisville-related brochures and city guides around your property to ensure that you have all the tools to ensure a perfect weekend in the Ville! If you can’t get your hands on any materials, consider leaving your guests notes and recommendations on your own preferences for things to do, restaurants and bars etc. Be sure to tailor these notes to your specific location.

You are the Louisville expert after all!Kentucky Derby Horse Decor

12. Leave your Louisville touch. Be sure to showcase Louisville-specific amenities and items that will make your home even more special. From bourbon glasses to horse paintings, giving your home that Southern touch will help to complete your guests’ Kentucky Derby weekend!

Once you’ve taken these steps to finalizing your home, you are finally ready to host your Kentucky Derby guests. It is hosts like you that help the continued growth of Louisville tourism and our city as a whole. Here’s to another successful Kentucky Derby!

Do you need help managing your short-term rental? Contact us today