As a first-time vacation rental host, there are many things you need to consider to ensure your vacation home is a successful and profitable investment. You’ve found the perfect property, furnished it, and advertised it, and now you wait for the inquiries to come rolling in. But while you wait, make sure you’re taking all the necessary steps to keep your rental safe and secure both when it is empty and when it is occupied.
Make your vacation rental look lived in, even when it’s not
Giving your rental the appearance there are guests in it is a great way to keep it safe and secure. If you live close by, you can do some of these things yourself, as part of your usual maintenance on the home. If you live more than a short drive away, ask a trusted neighbor to help, or hire a professional contractor to take care of yard and maintenance issues.
1. Keep the yard picked up
Regularly mow the grass, water the flowers, and if you live in a region where it snows, shovel the snow on the driveway and sidewalks to keep it looking presentable during the winter. This also means don’t let the mailbox get too full, and remember to pick up all of the takeout and car service flyers that advertisers leave on your front porch.
2. Turn on the lights
Set the lights in your home on a timer, and have a few of them switch on in the evening time. Motion sensor lights are also an easy and inexpensive way to keep your house out of the darkness and gives troublemakers fewer places to hide.
3. Find an extra pair of eyes
Having an outdoor camera is always a good idea, but befriending a neighbor who you trust can also be a helpful security measure. Ask them to let you know if they see anything suspicious, and make sure they have your contact information so they can reach you in case of emergencies.
4. Invest in a good lock – and use it
Many vacation rentals use smart locks and other automated check-in systems because it makes it easy for guests to access the property without having to check-in at an office or meet the homeowners for a key. Whether you use a smart lock or a regular key, make sure all windows and doors are locked every time you leave the property. Don’t leave a spare key under the mat, under a fake rock or in a potted plant. Instead, invest in a lock box or give an extra key to a trusted neighbor.
5. Install an alarm system
A home security system is another practical tool to help you, and your guests, sleep peacefully at night. This extra precaution gives them a sense of security while they are in a new place, and for many families, that security is priceless.
Be safe when you’re advertising
6. Don’t say it’s empty
A “For Rent” or “Vacancy” sign outside of your rental can give the wrong message to the wrong people. Instead, advertise that your home is available for rent via trusted online sources like your own vacation rental website, listing sites or online travel agencies
7. Be careful with photos
When you’re creating your vacation rental website, of course you’ll want to include all the fabulous professional photographs you’ve commissioned for your property, but be careful you don’t give too much away. Try not to include too many photos of the front of the property, or your house number, just in case the wrong people are looking.
Potential guests don’t need to know the address of your home to see how great it is and be excited to make a reservation.
8. Don’t give out too much information
When you’re responding to inquiries, especially at the beginning, talk to them and get to know them before you accept their booking request. Never give out directions to your property until a booking has been completed and payment has been collected.
Keeping guests safe during their stay
When your rental starts booking up, you’ll get many questions about how guests can ensure their safety while staying in your home. Giving your guests the tools they need to feel safe will allow them to enjoy your home without second-guessing if their family and valuables are safe and secure.
9. Help guests protect themselves
Whether you meet and greet each guest or leave them a detailed guest manual, you’ll want to teach them how to use the alarm system or door code if there is one. Be sure to remind guests of the importance of locking all doors and closing all windows when they leave the home.
10. Provide a safe for guests to use
Install a safe in your home with a key code so they can protect their valuables like passports and cash while they are out and about enjoying their vacation.
11. Provide contact information in case of an emergency
If, for any reason, your guests feel unsafe or uncomfortable, give them the best number to reach you in emergencies. A magnet on the fridge with local police and fire department phone numbers may also come in handy if the guests have a problem.
Travelers stay in vacation rentals for relaxing, home-away-from home experiences. Taking the above precautions will help make sure everything runs smoothly and securely, giving you less to worry about – no matter how far you are from your property.