Managing Your Vacation Rental

Avoiding pitfalls in managing a vacation rental home

Written by Elizabeth Weedon
4.5/5 - (4 votes)

As in any online-based business, vacation rental homeowners are subject to risk. But by taking a few simple measures, it’s fairly easy to minimize your risk and build a more successful business at the same time.

What are the risks?

Guests who:

  • May have a history of issues with past rentals or even the law
  • Are different in make-up than what they told you: larger in number, younger
  • Invite additional overnight or daytime guests
  • Party excessively and are loud and disruptive
  • Bring extra cars or pets when they are explicitly not allowed
  • Cause excessive damage or mess beyond normal wear and tear
  • Are overly demanding and contentious

Phishing scams – Certainly not exclusive to the STR industry, phishing scams involve a scammer accessing your personal or financial information so that they can masquerade as you online. Read more about what phishing scams are and how you can avoid them.

Having your listing “scraped” – Although it may not cause you harm directly, scammers can “scrape” your listing and advertise it on another platform with their contact information, pretending to be the owner. Find out more about how to set up alerts to notify you if this happens in our Don’t Get Scammed post.

Other scams: Scammers’ #1 priority is to get money from either you or vacationers. So, be particularly careful about refunding any payments you’ve received, making sure their payment to you has cleared beforehand and knowing who the refund is going to.

Finding responsible guests

Many homeowners worry about opening their home to strangers. Whether they’ve owned it for years or bought it recently, they love their home and have put a considerable amount of time, effort, and resources into making it worthy to discerning guests.

So, the biggest concern is usually about whether strangers who inquire about your home are trustworthy and responsible. Will they treat your home with care and leave it in good condition?

The best way to avoid problem guests is to screen them properly before you commit to renting to them. View our series of posts about screening:

Screening I: Screening for a better fit  – including tips on how to draw out information from your prospective guests and how to recognize red flags.

Screening II: It’s okay to say no  – don’t be afraid to turn down a prospective guest. Learn how you can do this diplomatically.

Screening III: Do the research  – including tips about doing some easy online research about a prospective guest.

An added benefit to screening well

Screening and researching your guests do more than protect you and your home. This will also create the foundation of a closer relationship with them and enable you to provide a better experience in your home.

In many ways, the screening process works both ways, allowing your guests to ask their questions and get to know you better, too. Creating a personal bond of trust more likely leads to great guest reviews and repeat guests.

How to avoid other risks

In addition to concerns about who will be in your home and how they will leave it, it’s also important to be aware of scams that could not only impact you but unsuspecting vacationers, too.

Read our post, Don’t Get Scammed, for a great list of tips to avoid some of the pitfalls of renting your home.

Be pro-active

Thankfully, we do not often hear from our homeowners about problems they’ve had with guests and very few with scams. But when we do, the homeowner often exclaims, “I knew these guests were going to be difficult!” or “I didn’t know what to do to avoid this from happening,“ or, “I wish I had taken the time to avoid this situation!” So, be pro-active and learn about what you can do to avoid problems before they arise. And use some of these screening techniques to create a better and closer relationship with your guests.

About the author

Elizabeth Weedon

Elizabeth Weedon - Although I’ve worked for since 2008, I’ve been a loyal homeowner on the site since early 1998, just a few months after the website was launched by the Talmadges. I grew up summering on the Vineyard and managed my family's rental home there since the mid-1980’s. I’m passionately devoted to the Vineyard – and to WeNeedaVacation, which I credit with enabling me to hold onto the special property that has been in our family for nearly a century. An enthusiastic member of the WNAV Homeowner Support Team, I endeavor to keep my finger on the pulse of the Cape and Islands vacation rental industry so that I can provide homeowners advice about how to ensure their booking success with us. With owner Joan Talmadge, I am also responsible for editing and writing much of the text on our website, our monthly newsletters, and Homeowner Blog posts.