That’s our goal, isn’t it? To find tenants who enjoy our vacation rental home, are respectful of it, leave it in good condition, and will want to return? But how is this best accomplished? Step one is simple: Speak to your prospective tenants on the phone. While an initial email correspondence is fine, there’s nothing like a phone chat to establish a rapport and a sense of mutual trust. By “trust,” I mean that you want to trust that your guests will care for your home as if it were theirs. And your guests want to trust that what you tell them about your property is an honest and accurate representation. In short, it should provide assurance to both of you that your home is indeed a good fit for them.
Ask specific and open-ended questions
Keep the conversation natural and ask friendly, yet leading, questions such as, “Have you been to [your town] before? If so, are you familiar with our location?” It’s important for you to know the makeup of their party (number of adults and number of ages of children). Also, what are they looking for in a rental? Do they want an informal beach house with casual furniture? Do they want a luxurious home with all the modern amenities? Do they want a quiet area or one with lots of activities? Does your home and setting seem to have what they are looking for? Assure them that it’s important to you that your home is a good fit for their needs. If they’re not familiar with your area, they may make some assumptions that don’t match reality, so it’s important to tell them as much as you can about your immediate setting, your town, and its surroundings.
Don’t hide the flaws or drawbacks
This is where trouble can start. Be open and honest with potential renters about your home and its setting. Is it on a fairly busy road? Some renters won’t mind, but others definitely will. Do you have a spiral staircase that might be difficult for children or older people? Let them know. Is that “fourth bedroom” really an open loft? Don’t hide these details. In my experience, disclosing any potential issues gives vacationers a greater sense of trust that they won’t encounter any surprises when they arrive, and they are usually very grateful for your honesty. Manage their expectations: there’s nothing worse than having a tenant show up and be disappointed in your home. They could accuse you of misrepresentation, or worse yet, demand their money back. It has happened!
Trust your instincts
Occasionally, I get a phone call from a homeowner who has had an unfortunate experience with a renter and says to me, “I had a bad feeling about them from the very beginning.” If you get the sense that your home is not appropriate for a particular party, do not agree to rent to them. It is not worth the risk. Be prepared to offer firm but diplomatic reasons for not renting to them. If possible, provide them with reasons why they might not want to rent your home.
Read more on respectfully saying “No” to renters who aren’t a good fit.
Do you have any special screening techniques that have worked well for you?