In my experience, one of the biggest concerns for new vacation rental owners is having their home trashed by careless guests. Vacation rental damage, however big or small, is something all owners have to deal with but there are ways to provide extra protection for your property.
My clients who are looking to get into the vacation rental business are usually looking to increase household income and/or gain life balance (by way of working fewer corporate hours), so the concern is understandable. Help alleviate the stress of dealing with vacation rental damage and save both time and money with these four tips.
Top Ways To Minimize Vacation Rental Damage
1. Screen Your Vacation Rental Guests
Screening is the first line of defense in protecting your home. I always try to speak to potential guests before they book; to get a feel for what type of people they are and the nature of their vacation.
If you hate the phone more than I do, or just cannot arrange a time to speak, try to engage in a couple of emails, at a minimum, instead. Pay attention to any red flags or inconsistencies. Trust your instincts and don't be afraid to turn inquiries away.
Keep in mind that screening isn't foolproof and it's important that you have some type of insurance or deposit in place should damages, or the need for deeper cleaning, occur.
2. Take a Deposit For Your Vacation Rental
Upfront deposits, typically a flat fee or a percentage of the total booking amount, are common. They are nice because you have the cash on-hand should something go awry, but can also be a hassle due to extra steps involved; collecting, deducting and returning.
Vacation Rental Deposit Tips
- Guests don't like large sums of cash sitting in limbo for upwards of 6+ months.
- Don't spend the deposit if you are on a tight budget; some clients choose to put it aside in a business savings account, along with tax money.
- Some states may require you to make a claim against a guests deposit within a set duration of time, typically 14 days.
3. Consider Vacation Rental Insurance
For a low, non-refundable, fee CSA Travel protection can provide an insurance policy as an alternative to taking a deposit. For those listing their homes on booking sites or using management software, it's typically one click of a button in your account to add a policy requirement for all of your guests.
Although it's super cheap and easy to implement, all damages may not be covered- like pet damage. Make sure you read the fine print of your insurance provider carefully.
All my properties are dog friendly. To mitigate any risk, I collect a $150 non-refundable pet deposit (which covers additional cleaning as I like my properties spotless) and ask for a credit card number to process through rental management software, Braintree, or any other payment system you prefer, should damages occur.
4. Build a List of Repeat Guests
Building a vault of repeat guests is probably the single most effective way to minimize the potential of damages. Take note of the many ways to create an exceptional experience and start growing your guest base. You will have rapport and will know how they will treat your home.
But even so, mishaps will happen. Always use your discretion when asking for fees. If charging them is causing you more anxiety than just covering the expense yourself, let it go. On the converse, if the damage is costly, talk through the solutions and repair costs openly.
My rule of thumb is that if the damage is fairly inexpensive, and was obviously an accident or non-malicious, I acknowledge the problem to the guest and offer to cover the expense. In my experience guests are usually very impressed with the level of hospitality and often demand to pay for the damage anyway.
This guest post was written by Kris Getzie, Founder & Principal Consultant at Volo. She is a vacation rental expert and author of the recently published Vacation Rentals For Newbies.