How to Screen Vacation Rental Guests to Protect Your Property

Sunshine, sand, pool, naps and grilling out. We are in the midst of the busy summer vacation season in the U.S. and guests are checking in and out at a record pace. Unfortunately, at some point, you will be reminded that not all house guests are created equal. While most are there to have good, clean fun, some guests turn out to be . . .  well, less than charming. Actual destructive guests are few and far between with an estimated that one in every 41,000 renters reportedly damage homes. Far more common problems are guests who disturb neighbors by making too much noise, blocking driveways, and leaving a gigantic mess behind when they check out. There are a few things you can do to help protect yourself from these types of short-term renters. In addition to the obvious detailed rental agreement outlining noise, party and smoking rules, here are some recommendations to screen your vacation rental guests.

Get paid upfront

Someone who has put money on the line already will be less apt to destroy your property, especially if they are on the hook legally with a security deposit.

Document the condition of the home before renters arrive, including the state of the furniture

Take pictures and file them away in a dated folder. And if you’re using a management software like Bookfull, you can upload them to the unit profile and keep everything all in one place for easy access. That way, there is no argument about what was or was not dirty or broken when the renters arrived.

Reach out and talk to your guest before they stay in your rental

One way to screen your vacation rental guests is to contact them when they make the booking. It’s this simple human interaction that can make a huge difference in qualifying a renter. Chat with them on the phone (email or text is fine too), ask them why are they interested in this house, where are they coming from, why did they choose this location as their vacation destination? Also, ask if they’ve stayed in a short-term rental before, do they plan to bring pets, kids, extra guests. This shouldn’t be presented as the Spanish Inquisition with a tone of demand and authority, but one of genuine “getting to know you” feeling behind your words. Your gut will go a long way in telling you if these folks are desirable renters.

Check out their social media

You can’t learn everything about a person via their Instagram, Facebook or Twitter accounts, but you can learn a lot about their goals, work, family, friends and leisure activities in a quick glance. If they post regularly doing keg stands, maybe they aren’t the right guests for your rental property.

Above all else, take deep breathes

You can’t stop a bad renter from ever happening, but you can control how you react to it, and how you allow the experience to affect your treatment of other, quality guests. One bad apple should not spoil the whole bunch. Remember, there are solutions out there to help you screen your vacation rental guests, plan ahead and stay organized, even if the unexpected takes a chunk out of your busy day.

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