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One of the most nerve-wracking things about using your home as a short term rental is the thought of strangers using – and possibly breaking – your stuff. Even if you lock away your most precious items, there’s still a chance that Airbnb guest damages could occur to just about anything else in your home. While you can’t physically be there to protect your property, you can be proactive about protecting yourself from potential financial losses. Here’s how.
First, keep a Detailed Inventory – Write a detailed list of all the items in your home. I’m talking everything – from lamps and bathroom accessories to bed linens and lounge chairs. Also, make note of the condition of your property, including your walls, floors, carpets, entryways and outdoor areas. Take pictures for documentation and update them regularly – preferably before and after each stay. Yes, this will take some time to do, but it’ll help you tremendously in the event of a dispute.
Second, accept the fact that accidents happen.
No matter how careful you are, or even how careful your Airbnb guests are, there’s always a chance that something could go wrong. Some people are simply clumsy. Other situations, such as renting to a guest with children, increase your risk of a possible mishap.
There’s also the issue of regular wear and tear to consider. A home that’s being used as a short term rental will experience this at a faster rate than one that isn’t open to a bunch of strangers throughout the year.
Some examples of wear and tear include:
- Minor scuff marks on the walls or floor
- Older items, such as furniture or appliances, breaking or malfunctioning
- Makeup or dirty stains on towels
- Lime scale residue on shower walls
- Tears, pulls, holes or stains on aging curtains or carpets — I like to provide Folex Carpet Spot Remover to my guests, and mention it in my welcome book. It works great to get stains out of carpet, and it also lets my guests know that I understand accidents happen, and want to help them in the event an accident does happen.
These things are just part of managing a short term rental and really aren’t anything you should blame or hold your guests accountable for.
When Airbnb Guest Damages Happen
What about more serious damage?
There are, of course, occasions when damage to your Airbnb is much more black and white. For instance, if a guest spills a bottle of nail polish on your new cream-colored carpet or drops something heavy and causes a dent in your floorboards. Or, let’s say a guest accidentally backs his or her car over your newly planted flower beds. And, of course, there’s always the incidents when a guest breaks or steals something within your home. These are all pretty cut and dry cases, but again, things happen. I also keep a Bissel SpotBot Handsfree Spot and Stain Cleaner available for my guests. It works great to address isolated spills and messes.
How to Handle Airbnb Guest Damages
In a perfect world, all guests would be honest and contact you right away when they break something during their stay, but having been a short term rental host for some time, I can unfortunately attest that this isn’t always the case. In fact, it’s the exception in my experience. So, what should you do if you come home to discover something’s been damaged?
First, always communicate with your guests via the platform you used to rent your home, whether that be Airbnb, TripAdvisor, Home Away or VRBO. This ensures a documented record of the situation. Start by reaching out to your guest and politely asking what happened. Hopefully, they’ll come clean and agree to pay for whatever damages they’re responsible for. If the situation cannot be resolved this amicably, you may need to file an official complaint with your short term rental platform.
In a future post, I’ll delve into more detail on specific steps you can take to protect your investment and prevent loss or damage. In the meantime, I strongly recommend purchasing supplemental insurance to cover any damages that either exceed the security deposit or are not settled in your favor following a dispute. This way you’ll know that, regardless of the outcome, you’ll still be covered.
There are certain risks to running any type of side business, and short term rental properties are no exception. Being prepared in advance and knowing how to respond in the event that something goes wrong will help make the entire process much easier for everyone.
Here are 3 ways you can keep your Airbnb clean and profitable.