Being a vacation rental owner has its challenges, especially when you value the property you’re renting. At times the fear of leaving your home in a complete stranger’s hands is what prevents many from becoming owners and being able to enjoy the additional income that comes with having a second home.
On very rare occasions, things don’t go exactly to plan and ultimately you don’t want to regret owning a vacation rental, just like the owners of these Airbnb horror stories did. When dealing with difficult guests you should always stay positive, but there are a few things you can do to be fully prepared.
Identify the different types of guests
To start with, it’s always a good idea to identify the different types of visitors who stay in vacation rentals and research who tends to stay in your area. Anticipating the guests’ behavior is not the easiest thing in the world, however, there is often a behavior pattern with each type of traveler that stays in your home:
1. Retired travelers
Senior travelers looking to escape the winter weather or undertake a hobby holiday most likely will not cause any problems in terms of damage or noise. They want a peaceful and tranquil vacation and are the perfect criteria for quiet guests.
2. Guests who travel for work
Businessmen and women are also not burdensome, as they spend most of their time outside the property working and often travel alone. When in the property, they want a relaxing evening after a hard day’s work.
3. Families or guests with pets
Whereas guests who travel with families or pets could potentially cause some damage. It’s very unlikely that they’ll have a party in your property, nevertheless, they can still break little things. For example, if kids touch or play with something they shouldn’t, or if pets aren’t fully trained to do their business outside or bite furniture. If your vacation rental allows pets, there are many ways you can make it pet-friendly.
The easiest solution would be to ask for a higher deposit and return it once you have verified the guests haven’t destroyed or broken anything.
A new group has emerged lately: millennials. Young people are opting to stay in vacation rentals and want more freedom to relax, explore, and even cook meals. They don’t necessarily have to be seen as a threat unless they form part of the next type of guest: groups of friends.
5. Large groups
What are groups of friends looking for? Spacious homes, parties, to invite more friends, swimming pool, cheap price, drinking games, and even a property with no neighbors nearby to avoid complaints about excessive noise. Young people who travel in groups want to have fun, so they are more likely to organize parties that can get noisy and out of control.
Although couples tend to be quiet, they could also result in being troublesome. Some hosts have had problems with very noisy couples in the past (both because they love and hate each other.)
So, which guests should you avoid?
You can’t generalize each type of guests, as it’s impossible to know the true intentions of each visitor in your vacation rental. But at times, it’s more obvious. For example, if someone wants to have a party, don’t let them stay. You can’t avoid all the groups that could cause trouble, because then you wouldn’t be able to have as many reservations.
Put yourself in the shoes of a guest looking for a vacation rental, and avoid mentioning all those things they would seek that could cause trouble. If your house is spacious, describe it in a way that is appealing to families; instead of saying that your backyard is ideal for organizing large barbecues, say that it is perfect for children to play safely, or instead of talking about your sofa bed and extra beds, just say that the home is perfect for a family with children who want to enjoy the warmth of a home.
If you’ve done everything possible to avoid troublesome visitors, and you still receive guests who cause problems, here are some safety procedures you can implement prior to their arrival:
1. Create a rental agreement
A rental agreement will protect both you and the guest, in case of discrepancy or dispute, and will also give you extra confidence when renting your second home to strangers. You can include maximum occupancy limitations, check-in and check-out terms and cancellation policies. If guests violate anything, you can state in the contract that you have the right to cancel the reservation immediately or they have to cover damage costs with their deposit.
2. Security deposit
One of the biggest fears and concerns of vacation rental owners is that guests will trash their place. Charging a security damage deposit is the best option to feel reassured. By collecting a refundable payment upfront in this way, owners have a pot they can dip into and deduct funds from, should any damage be caused at the property.
3. House rules
House rules are a way to implement your expectations and have guests know how they should treat your home. Include rules such as “no noise after 11:00 pm”, “keep the property tidy” or “no smoking.” But don’t overdo it, as they may be overwhelmed and leave a negative review.
4. Make an inventory of your possessions
It’s highly recommended to make a list of all the items and amenities your guests will have access to, and to avoid having expensive things in your vacation rental property. Before guests leave, go through your property and check everything is still there.
5. Have secure payments
Always charge the full rate before guests leave your property. Accepting credit cards is the most secure and reliable payment method. To accept payments in a secure way and of any currency, use Lodgify’s software to instantly receive online bookings and payments for your vacation rental from the very first day.
6. Check guests reviews beforehand
If you are listing on Airbnb, check reviews previous owners have written about guests who want to stay in your property. This way you will be able to avoid travelers who have caused problems in the past.
7. Take out insurance
Taking out insurance is perhaps the best way to sleep peacefully, knowing that even if your tenants are a nightmare, you are covered. Many platforms such as Airbnb and HomeAway already have several insurance options. If your vacation rental is not listed on these sites, there are many other options available. As the vacation rental industry is growing rapidly, innovative startups are disrupting the traditional insurance market. Your current home insurance could also offer the option of insuring your vacation rental, so it never hurts to ask.
Giving people you don’t know the leeway to stay at your property is always a risk. Remember that minor problems such as noise or small accidents can always arise. You can never know what’s going to happen with each guest, you just need to be prepared.