It’s no surprise that Airbnb is popular among guests in their teens and early twenties who are looking for a place to stay on vacation, as the service is more affordable and trendier than a hotel. For rentals in popular destinations, such as Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York, hosts can expect much wilder Airbnb renters when Spring Break rolls around.
There’s no shortage of horror stories online detailing exactly how bad a vacation rental through Airbnb can go for the host. A host had her apartment essentially destroyed and her belongings stolen, and her story is one of the tamer ones. Renting your home out on Airbnb during Spring Break can result in younger guests bringing in drugs, alcohol, and if you’re really unlucky, prostitution. Yes, that has happened. Besides damage to your home, you could also end up dealing with legal issues and fines if your guests violate any laws. That’s why it’s important that you take the right steps to protect yourself and your home.
Taking Additional Measures Before Renting Your Home
Whether you have any issues with Spring Breakers depends entirely on the location of your property. If the vacation rental is in South Dakota, you probably won’t have many Airbnb renters coming to town for Spring Break. But if the rental is in one of those hotspots, then you need to plan how you’re going to avoid bad renters.
Fortunately, you decide who rents your home, so you can screen everyone and only rent to those you feel comfortable with. One option is including extra provisions in the rental contract to avoid having your home packed full of teenagers. You could require that every guest is over 25 years old, or that they are all from the same family.
You may want to consider adding a security deposit when it’s Spring Break. If you already require a security deposit, you could raise it for further protection. This isn’t foolproof, as bad renters can do far more damage than any reasonable security deposit for a short-term rental could cover. At least you have some protection in case of issues, though, and this helps weed out those renters who just want the cheapest place possible to party.
The most important aspect of protecting your home is checking out potential guests before agreeing to rent to them. When a guest requests to rent your home, read anything he wrote on his page and check for reviews any previous hosts have left him. How a guest treated previous rentals is the best indicator of how he will treat yours. If you have any concerns about a guest, don’t rent to him. The money you’d make from a rental is never worth the risk of extensive damage to your home.
You can protect your home more by purchasing additional insurance for it. This could prove expensive, since you’ll need to tell the insurance company that you rent the home on Airbnb, but it gives you peace of mind. While Airbnb has an insurance guarantee, it has gotten mixed reviews, so extra protection could be wise.
Tips for Guests
There are dangers for guests on Airbnb, as well. Fraudulent hosts are one of the most prominent issues for guests. To avoid getting scammed or ending up at a place that looks nothing like the picture, a guest should communicate with the host before renting the home and asking any questions he has. He can also ask about the address, and if the host is willing to provide it, look up the Google Street View to get an idea of what the location is like.
Another way to avoid a place that looks nothing like the pictures is looking for a watermark of an “A” on rental pictures. Airbnb only stamps that watermark on pictures if one of its own photographers has gone to the rental, taken the photos, and verified it. This means that what you see really is what you get.
It’s just as important for guests to read reviews as it is for hosts. A host obviously isn’t going to be completely unbiased about his property, as he’s trying to get people to rent it. Previous reviews are from unbiased guests, so you can use them to get a better idea of what a place is like.
For safety, guests should only pay for a rental through the Airbnb site or app. Sending money to the host directly through a check, direct deposit, or another type of transaction, is a bad idea. The host could be running a scam. Even if it’s a legitimate listing, Airbnb only mediates problems and provides its insurance on transactions that went through its site.
People want to have fun on Spring Break, which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s an issue when partying gets too crazy. Hosts can stay safe by finding the right guests and setting up clear house rules. If possible, it’s good to have a property manager on-site or nearby to prevent violations of those rules.