Updated: Mar 17, 2020
1. Stay informed about local and national movements regarding short-term rentals.
The attitude regarding Short-Term Rental is fluid – and divided. There are those who believe it is negatively affecting the affordable housing market, while others believe it is what makes affording their home possible.
Some areas may have restrictions on the type of home that may be rented for less than 30 days. Others (most) have a cap on the number of guests a home can host. Others may have additional restrictions. Find out before you take any other steps!
The simple answer is – get involved. Go to town hall meetings, join Facebook groups, attend local host gatherings, find out what your community is saying. Stay on top of it and you won’t find yourself in an unfortunate predicament.
2. Treat it like a business.
Do your due diligence prior to posting your space. What are your costs? Even if you are cleaning and maintaining the space yourself, there are costs incurred. Be honest with yourself regarding the time and materials needed for each turnover (linens, cleaning products, welcome baskets, your time, etc.).
Do you need a license? The answer is probably “Yes”! This is the next step after finding out IF you can use your property as a short-term rental.
What are the restrictions in your town, neighborhood, HOA, etc. Find out and follow the rules & policies.
Treat your guests as customers, not as a casual guest in your home. This goes especially for shared spaces. Remember, they are paying customers. Consider yourself a concierge; you are there to serve them. Your goal should be to give them the best of a hotel experience, as well as all the conveniences of a home.
3. Set your policies and keep updating
Research other properties in your market. What are their policies? Minimum stays? Cleaning Fees? Each market is different, so you need to find out what is working for those around you – and why. Every property is different. Your policies should reflect the needs of your unique offering.
Be concise. Don’t confuse your guests with muddled policies. If you need them to stay off the grass on the south side of the driveway, say that. Don’t say “some areas are restricted to traffic”. Do not leave anything to interpretation – include polite, clear instructions in your policies, post a sign on the property if you feel it is needed, and reiterate it in your welcome binder. Remember, English (or whatever your policies are written in) may not be your guest’s native language. Avoid translation and interpretation issues, to keep it clear and simple.
Have someone unfamiliar with the property read the policies that you’ve written, and see what questions they have before posting or distributing.
Continue editing as you discover the areas where you find additional policies should be enforced. If you find guests are using bath towels for the pool or wearing muddy boots through the house – and you have not addressed that in your policies, you need to update them. Quickly.
4. Represent yourself & your space honestly
Is this a bedroom inside your home? A Guest House? A single family home? Apartment? Townhouse? Whatever it is, and whatever your guest will have access to, you need to make it clear. Not ‘of course they should know,’ but Crystal Clear. Think Kindergarten level clarity. Don’t be condescending, but remember chances are, they have not seen the space in person. You need to paint a vivid picture so they are not surprised by anything other than how WONDERFUL the space is when they arrive.
Write your description as if you do not have pictures. Take your pictures as if you do not have a written description.
If you are onsite, make sure they are aware that you’ll be there Let them know how involved you typically are with your guests – and they can let you know their comfort level. Do they want to sit by the pool with you and have a morning cup of coffee? Or would they rather never see you? They are paying for this experience, they get to choose.
5. Video Doorbell or Exterior Cameras
There have been many nightmare stories about raging parties, numerous unpaid guests, and other oddities. The video doorbell, or a motion detecting camera (only on the exterior, typically pointed at entries) can keep you informed on what is happening if you are not onsite.
Always make sure your guests know the devices are there and they are monitored. Be certain that you have rock solid policies, including any surveillance activity and your rules regarding additional guests.
You are not spying – you are protecting your investment. So, make sure that is the case. Don’t be a voyeur.
Be prepared for the unexpected and know how to deal with it. Are you going to confront a guest during a party? Or are you going to wait until the next day? Are you going to call the police? Or are you going to report them to the scheduling platform and hope for the best? Have an idea how you intend to react before you are put on the spot and must decide in an instant.
6. Get Help if You Need It!!
If you are not familiar with the hospitality industry, have not been a highly responsive customer service representative, acted as a housekeeper, or somehow catered to strangers, this endeavor may not be suitable for you. This is not to say you cannot be a Vacation Rental Host. You certainly can. However, you may want to recruit some assistance.
Get a Co-Host. There are a variety of options out there.
Hire a professional cleaning service. Sometimes cleaning under the bed every three days, scrubbing toilets, and fishing questionable items out of a drawer is just too much. Find a professional to cover what you can’t, or don’t want, to do.
Look for an all-inclusive service. This is where we shine. Raini & Associates is happy to help you with any, or all, of the services you find too difficult (or unappealing) to do yourself. In fact, we have packages (as well as a'la carte options) that provide styling, hosting, maintenance, turn-over service, and more. If you are finding it all a bit overwhelming – reach out. We are happy to help at any level you find beneficial.
Good luck on your adventure into short-term hosting!