If you’re managing a vacation rental property, ensuring safety is one of the most important things you can do. In addition to encouraging consumer confidence, checking the boxes on a few important home and safety must-haves will insulate you from liability and make your rentals more desirable. Here are some important vacation rental safety tips and must-haves.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
According to a study by Johns Hopkins University that looked at 12,000 vacation rental listings, only 80 percent had smoke detectors and 56 percent had CO detectors. Don’t let your rental be one of the many without these safety essentials. There should be smoke detectors in every bedroom and at least a single detector on each floor. These detectors should be mounted on the ceiling or high up on a wall, and there should be at least a single carbon monoxide detector on each floor of the home.
Pro Tip: Test all of your smoke and CO detectors at least once a year and change the batteries. There is nothing worse than that chirping in the middle of the night and no batteries in the house. Sometimes changing the battery isn’t enough, so make sure to test that the sensors are working properly and replace any that are not functioning.
In most areas, short-term rentals are required to have a business license. If this is the case, you are required to have a working fire extinguisher and it needs to be located in an obvious place like near the kitchen, where the risk of fire is higher. Be sure to list the fire extinguisher’s whereabouts in your welcome packet, and offer a printed, laminated guide on how to use it. Also, you will need to check the fire extinguisher on a regular basis and replace it when it passes its expiration date.
Your property should offer a first-aid kit that’s well-stocked and maintained. What you add to your kit will depend slightly on where your home is located. As a general rule, though, it should contain the following:
- Triangular bandages (sling)
- Ace Bandages
- Safety pins
- Disposable sterile gloves
- Scissors and/or tweezers
- Sterile gauze
- Cleansing wipes or alcohol wipes
- Sticky tape
- Benadryl or Antihistamine
After you’ve had guests stay at your place, restock the first-aid kit and be sure it’s ready for your next renters.
Pro Tip: To make sure that you are always keeping your first aid kit full, add checking and restocking the first aid kit to your housekeeping checklist. This way each time the house is cleaned the kit gets restocked and is always ready for guests.
Current Emergency Safety Card
An emergency safety card is essential for vacation property safety. It should tell guests where to go and who to call if there’s an emergency. It should appear in your rental’s digital welcome packet, but you should also print, laminate and display a copy of the card at the actual property itself. Be sure your guests are aware it exists and know how to find it. You can put it with the house rules where it will be handy for guests in case of an emergency.
Local Safety Regulations
While these vacation rental safety tips are great, ensure your property complies with safety regulations by doing an online search to find out whether there are regulations that apply to your property. Some rental properties, for example, must include a floor plan that notates escape routes and fire exits. When it comes to guest safety, you can never be too cautious.
Electrical and Wiring
According to ESFi, there are over 50,000 electrical fires every year and it is the third leading cause of house fires. Outdated electrical and receptacles are the biggest culprits. If you own a newer home, this may not be an issue but some older homes may not be up to code with its electrical. Installing GFI outlets in the kitchen and bathrooms will help safeguard against a fire hazard and in many areas is a rule when doing an inspection. Maybe consider having a licensed electrician inspect your home to make sure you are up to code.
Secure Pools and Hot Tubs
Pools and hot tubs are an amenity guests enjoying having in a vacation rental. But they can cause some safety concerns. A few things to keep in mind if you have a pool or hot tub are:
- Explain to guests how to use your pool or hot tub
- Clearly state your pool/hot tub’s rules within your house rules as well as posted near the pool/hot tub
- Have a cover that seals securely
- Have a working gate and/or fence
Outdoor Kitchen and Fireplaces
If your vacation rental has outdoor living spaces with an outdoor kitchen, fire pits or fireplaces you may want to consider giving guests safety information. Put instructions on how to use grills and gas fireplaces (indoor and outdoor) and where the on/off switches are in your welcome packet and/or house rules. You may even want to print it off and have it in your home.
Pro Tip: Keep any propane tanks secure and a fire extinguisher near your outdoor kitchen, fire pits, and fireplaces.
It seems obvious, but install deadbolt locks on all exterior doors. Keyless locks make it really easy to give guests a unique code that can change for each guest so they feel secure. Also, by giving different vendors and guests different codes you can keep track of who is coming and going.
Pro Tip: Let your guests know that you take safety seriously by adding blurb in your listing that addresses their questions about home security like keyless deadbolts, fire extinguishers, and outdoor motion sensors.
Keep in mind that your guests are not familiar with your community like you are. They will want to be reassured that they will feel safe in your property. Not only does good, well-lit outdoor lighting make your property look amazing but it will let your guests see where things are and what’s happening outside. Adding motion sensors to outdoor lighting is useful so guests aren’t fumbling around trying to enter a correct code on a keypad they can’t see as well as if something or someone walks up in the middle of the night.
Vacation Rental Safety Tips for Making Your Short-Term Rental Safer
Your short-term rental is a beautiful property you’ve worked hard to create and maintain. If you’re going to be renting it out, though, you need to make sure it’s as safe as possible for the people who come to it. By following these safety essentials, you can create a safe, compliant property for people to enjoy during their stays. This, in turn, could relieve you from a good amount of liability and makes it easier to avoid common safety issues at your property.
Doesn’t everyone love a good checklist? We do, so we’ve taken all these tips and put them into a handy checklist for you to cover all the bases.