1. Maintaining shoddy records (or keeping no records at all)
Short-term rental revenue is taxed unless you host visitors for 14 or fewer days per year. Other expenditures associated with the rental, such as advertising fees, cleaning charges, and some prorated house expenses, may be deductible. However, to claim those deductions, you must maintain meticulous records that show the days the house is leased out, the amount of rent you get, and all of your other costs.
2. Ignoring privacy and valuables protection
Even if you carefully vet visitors and need a damage deposit, it’s unfair to demand that they handle each fragile item in your house as if it were their own. Additionally, you cannot assume that all of your visitors would resist the need to go through any personal documents you have left lying about. Leave your grandmother’s quilt at your sister’s place for everyone’s comfort. Purchase affordable replacements for your fine china. Place your tax returns and other confidential documents out from the visitors’ reach.
3. Forgetting to screen visitors
I’ve been a host of short-term rentals for a long time, and I know that most individuals are trustworthy and accountable. They carry out their promises and are who they claim to be. However, you know there are exceptions if you’re a realist like me. The likelihood of having issues decreases the more information you have on the guests you invite into your house.
Screening visitors is crucial. Pose a lot of inquiries. Search for individuals online. Request identification papers from visitors, such as driver’s licenses or passports. Talk to prospective visitors before they make a reservation if at all feasible; if not, schedule a phone call immediately after. There is no alternative to the back-and-forth of a courteous, cordial phone or Skype discussion when it comes to getting to know someone and developing trust that they are the ideal visitors to your house. You may learn far more about someone by speaking with them in person.
4. Ignorance of the laws, rules, and ordinances governing short-term rentals
Am I authorized to rent out my home? Should be one of the first inquiries a prospective host should make. You could be shocked to learn that the response is “No” or “only in XXX situations.” Due to the strict regulations on subletting, many homeowners associations and cooperatives have in place (as do most landlords). Before registering with Airbnb or any website that lists short-term rentals, it is important to review the guidelines.
You could also verify with the government departments in your area. As short-term rentals have grown in popularity, some municipal and even state governments have passed legislation to regulate them or, in some instances, outright prohibit them. These laws are often followed by stiff penalties for those who break them. Find out whether you need permission or license for your rental and, if so, how to apply to maintain it legally.
5. Assuming your homeowner’s insurance covers short-term rentals
Assuming that your homeowners’ insurance would protect you in the event of a fire or a visitor slipping on the stairs may be a very expensive error. Numerous regulations expressly forbid short-term rentals. It’s a good idea to verify with your insurance provider to be certain, even if your policy doesn’t state that anything is excluded. You could need to locate a business that will cover you while you rent out your house to others, or you might need to get specialized holiday rental insurance.
6. Leaving visitors unattended
Things happen while you’re gone, like the washer breaking down or a large tree branch falling after a storm into the driveway. If you encounter such issues while on safari in Africa or at a lonely hilltop home in Portugal with patchy mobile coverage and no internet connection, major repercussions might result. When you’re not around, even little inconveniences like forgetting the internet or the home keys may be quite irritating for visitors.
Make sure visitors have a contact number to use if anything goes wrong. If not, they’ll probably try to fix it themselves or contact the first repairman that pops up on Yelp, which might result in you being stuck with a hefty price.
7. Ignoring to inform neighbors
Nowadays, people are anxious, even cautious. When they see strangers in the building or on the street, they often feel uneasy or even suspicious. By informing your neighbors that guests will stay at your house, you may preserve your ties with them. Provide your neighbors with your phone number and urge them to call you if there are any issues. Giving your visitors’ names and contact information to your neighbors is a smart idea in case of an emergency.
8. Failing to provide explicit directions
New hosts are often unhappy and shocked when visitors don’t put the trash out on garbage day or use an abrasive cleanser on a delicate surface. Guests get frustrated when they cannot buzz people into the facility or change the air conditioning.
Give your visitors a “user guide” that details how to handle key situations. Include detailed instructions on how to use the TV, handle the trash, change the heat or air conditioning, locate the circuit breakers, and reset the modem if the Internet goes down. Mention significant “quirks,” such as a toilet prone to overflowing or a faucet where the cold and hot water settings are reversed. You’ll get fewer messages and phone calls from guests asking you how something works, and your visitors will enjoy a more pleasant stay.
9. Failing to remedy potentially hazardous items
The third tread of the back staircase has probably been loose for years, so you are probably aware that you need to take extra care when your foot is on it. But none of your visitors are aware of it; if someone is wounded, everyone will be upset.
Look around your house inside and out for any safety hazards that need to be resolved before your visitors come. Battery changes for smoke alarms, carpet tacks, and window frame repairs. You will be happy you did for yourself, your visitors, and your insurance provider.
10. Ignoring to contact visitors after their arrival
A brief text or email asking if they have any queries a day or two after their arrival would be very appreciated by your visitors. It won’t take you long, and it will demonstrate to visitors that you care about how they enjoy their stay.
11. Ignoring the need for a leasing agreement in writing
To ensure that visitors are aware of the conditions and regulations of the rental, a formal agreement should be written up and made available for signature. Instead of using “legalese,” write the agreement in simple English. When using a pre-written rental form, customize it rather than just filling in the spaces.
Details like the rental dates, rent and deposit amounts, payment methods and due dates, cleaning costs, cancellation rules, and the maximum number of guests should all be clearly stated in your agreement. Include your home rules, such as no loud music, no smoking, and no parking in neighbors’ spots!