Whether you are new to the vacation rental industry or have been renting your home for years, you’re sure to have heard some Airbnb horror stories and terrible experiences from other hosts.
If you want to avoid these kinds of nightmares, the first thing you need to do is write up a good contract in which both parties have to agree to certain responsibilities. After this is done, the next step is protecting your vacation rental from those who might want to take advantage of it.
We’ve put together these four essential pieces of advice which will help rental property owners keep their homes (and guests) safe and sound.
1. Make your property look lived in
An empty vacation rental or second home can sometimes be a prime target for thieves and opportunists – so you always want to give the impression that somebody is home.
If you live local to your property, this is something you can easily do yourself. Otherwise, you can hire a professional to take care of your rental, especially if it’s looking a bit worn and clearly vacant.
So, how do you make it look like your property has guests?
You can start with the obvious: by taking regular care of the garden and other outdoor spaces. Keep any outside areas looking neat and manicured at all times, and never let them get to the point of looking unkempt or abandoned.
Another great idea is to switch lights on and off – as this will create more of an illusion of life at your home. But don’t worry, you won’t need to visit the house every day to do this! You can buy timers quite inexpensively, which you can easily install and set up to turn on and off again for a few hours each evening. Additionally, you could install outdoor motion sensor lights which will let you (or neighbors) know if anybody is lurking after hours.
It’s important to avoid putting up posters on your property’s exterior which announce it’s “For Rent” or “Vacant”, as this can also warrant unnecessary attention. The best and safest way to promote your vacation rental is with your own website, and via listings on reputable online travel agencies.
2. Install the latest security systems
Security is one area where you shouldn’t scrimp for your rental – both for your own and your guests’ peace of mind.
We’re not saying you need to have 50 CCTV cameras in and around your home! But at the very least, your property needs to have a good lock and alarm system in place. This will help your guests to relax knowing they’re safe, and will also save you from any intruders during vacancies.
Also, make sure that guests close windows and lock doors whenever they leave your place, and avoid leaving keys out in visible places such as under the doormat or in a plantpot. A simple and practical solution for vacation rental owners is a key lockbox, or even a smart lock.
As well as this, it’s not a bad idea to have an extra pair of eyes keeping watch every now and then. You could ask a trustworthy neighbor to send you a message should they see anything suspicious at your home or in its surroundings.
3. Be careful when promoting your property and accepting bookings
When you are creating listings that are going to help promote your vacation rental, avoid giving out too much location information. Get to know your guests before accepting their reservation by asking them some questions about who they are and the purpose of their visit. You should neither give out your exact property address until the booking is confirmed and payment has gone through nor upload any photos which show the precise property location.
What’s more, it’s essential you take reservations and accept payments through a secure system to avoid being hacked or receiving false details. Our advice is that you accept online payments via credit cards through your own website, which is supported by a good vacation rental software that prioritizes the safety and security of both monetary and sensitive data transfers.
4. Ensure your guests feel safe
Help your guests to make your vacation rental a safe place by giving them the tools they need in case of emergency.
For starters, you can provide them with a safety manual, in which you encourage them to follow some of the practices previously covered in this article. It is also helpful to use this space to explain where emergency equipment (such as fire extinguishers and a first aid kit) can be found.
You can even install a safe at your home so that guests can securely store any valuables such as money, jewelry, passports and electronic devices while they are asleep or out of the house.
Finally, ensure guests have an emergency contact number so they can get in touch with you if needed, as well as a list of other key local emergency numbers (such as police, fire department, ambulances, etc.).
About the Author
Lodgify is an all-in-one vacation rental software which empowers owners and managers to easily create their own website, accept online bookings and credit card payments, and manage all reservations from one place.