According to statistics by Statista, the 2019 vacation rental property industry has served 31.9 million users, making it a $14.4 billion dollar industry. Predictions show nothing but these numbers continuing to rise year over year. However, there’s a huge factor threatening the growth and very existence of this marketplace, and it has to do with the undesirable impact these properties have on residential areas when they’re unmanaged and poorly managed. What is it? What can you do to prevent it from impacting your rental income?
Trash, Noise, & Parking From Rentals To Vacationers
Most locations with multiple rental properties for vacation travelers already have ordinances and regulations specific to owning such a property. The last decade has seen many of these ordinances tighten significantly with increased cause for citations, hefty fines, no-warning suspensions, and other penalties due to residents pushing their local officials for stricter rules and more stringent punishments.
Residents in some areas, such as Lake Tahoe, San Diego, and Long Beach City, are even pushing law makers to ban vacationer rental properties entirely. Signs with slogans like “neighborhoods are for neighbors, not vacation renters” liter the yards of many tourist destinations.
So, why all the residential discontent and demand for ordinances? City ordinances are designed to protect the community and residents from entities and actions that pose a disturbance or threat to the character of area. Rental properties geared toward vacationers have three common ‘disturbance’ complaints against them by the surrounding residents - trash, noise, and parking.
Not dealing with all three of the above, threatens your property’s income potential, leaves you open to significant financial loss from ordinance infractions, and threatens the entire industry’s very existence.
Whether you’re trying to solve an existing disturbance problem costing you money, trying to get ahead of your area creating ordinances, or trying to avoid officials from making such ordinances stricter, you can use the following tips to ensure you’re properly managing your property’s trash, noise, and parking to prevent it from negatively impacting residential neighbors.
Tips To Manage Trash, Noise, & Parking At Vacay Rentals
1. Enact A Thorough Screening Process
Screening your guests with key questions before booking enables you to identify guests that have a high probability of being a disturbance. Selective renting has been shown to lessen the likelihood of negative community impact.
For example, simply asking guests what brings them to the area can tell you a lot about how they’ll use and leave your property. A bachelor/bachelorette party is very different than the typical family vacay, for example.
Make online research part of your screening process before approving guest booking requests. Look up their name on various social media sites to get a feel for their character and even learn more about the intent of their upcoming trip.
If the potential vacation renter lives in an area with expedient and online access to public information, you can use the person’s local county clerk’s office to gather free basic background check information.
Given that some areas have ordinances where a single citation can cost you hundreds to thousands of dollars and suspend your renting ability for anywhere from a few months to permanently, even paying for professional background checks on potential renters can be a solid ROI.
2. Communicate Rules Verbally And In Writing
Post a copy of the rules at the property and at any secondary checkin locations. It should include parking locations, occupant limits, noise restrictions, trash instructions, and so forth. A refrigerator magnet on the home’s appliances works well. However, don’t allow on-site postings to be your only communicative effort.
Starting with listing your vacation property for rental, key rules for trash, quiet hours, and parking should be outlined clearly.
These should again be expressed when a potential guest inquires about booking during the screening process, and be sure to state fines and repercussions so that guests know their liability upfront.
Once booked, send an email or text message that goes over all rules, regulations, and responsibilities with the guest. This is also the perfect time to email a written agreement for the guest to sign, which signifies they understand and agree to the rules and repercussions.
3. Use Management And Technology To Gain A Proactive Response Protocol
The best method to prevent ordinance violations at your property is to keep a connection with your property and its guests at all times. That said, not all owners have the ability to monitor and keep tabs 24/7, right? This is where a professional management service becomes an invaluable asset for property owners listed on such sites as Airbnb, Vrbo and Flipkey.
An airbnb property manager does more than just check guests in and out of your property. In fact, with a little help from technology, they can be instrumental in preventing your property from violating local ordinances or creating the need for the creation of such ordinances.
Your property can be equipped with gadgets such as noise monitor that alerts your property manager when the property’s interior decibel level reaches a certain point. The management team can then send a text to the guests that they need to quiet down due to a ‘complaint.’
Occupancy numbers can also be monitored with technology, including a Ring doorbell and routers that alert management as to how many devices are using connections within the home. Suspicious numbers can be further investigated for occupancy violations.
Both occupancy and parking can further be monitored with real-time exterior property cameras. If you’re using these technologies to self-manage, do note that it’s illegal to place recording and camera devices in any rental’s interior.
4. Know Your Neighbors
You’ll have a far greater chance of gaining the neighborhood’s trust and support by addressing issues as promptly and throughly as possible. To do this, those neighbors have to know you and your management team.
Just by talking to your property’s neighbors or having your airbnb property manager routinely check in with them, you can get ahead of many concerns they may have related to your guests and avoid them automatically calling the authorities with complaints.
Plus, when those neighbors have a dependable connection with you, they can become your greatest advocates and influencers. They can stand up for your rights when it comes to the proposal of new ordinances that impact your business. They can vouch that you add, not subtract, from the community. They may even throw you some quality business when they have professional or personal associates coming to the area.
So, ensure those neighbors know you and your property management team by name, have contact information, and are encouraged to call anytime they have an issue.
5. Set Guests Up For Success
Amenities are attraction points for guests. When unwisely placed, however, those amenities can encourage guests to break the noise, trash, and parking rules necessary to keep your neighbors content.
Outdoor surround systems, for example, can be a great selling point. But, if your market is heavily regulated or property is in close proximity to residential homes, then it becomes a potential cause for noise complaints.
On the other hand, not offering amenities can cause equally disastrous problems. Summer vacationers opening windows because your property doesn’t have HVAC or window units for cooling is a perfect example. Vacationers often keep louder and longer hours than the working residential folks, and open windows can carry sound long distances.
Think wisely about your amenities and how they can set your guests up for either failure or success.
6. Make Trash Easy
Vacation rentals typically produce more trash than most households. The pileups and smells can be off-putting to guests and infuriate neighbors and collectors.
Make the trash process as easy as possible by ensuring guests have adequate supplies, such as disposal access, trash cans, and trash bags.
Develop a system and schedule on how the trash gets to roadside containers for pickups - will the guest do this before they leave or will you, property management, or a cleaning service do this?
You may also want to point an exterior camera at trash sites to alert you of collection problems and prevent pileups.
7. Head-off Parking Issues
Make sure that you alert guests during the booking process as to if on-site parking is available and how many vehicles are allowed within that space. This allows them ample time to make their transportation decisions and arrangements.
Knowing the occupancy restrictions ahead of time can also avoid your guest inviting their own guests over to park in areas that will disturb neighbors.
If there are specific areas that are a no-go for parking, be sure to explain this to guests and ensure signage is up in the area. You may also want to have a list of nearby car lots and public parking spaces if your property doesn’t have on-site parking.
Depending on your area, you can often get ahead of limited parking causing problems by encouraging guests to utilize cheaper ride-share services, public transportation sources, and so forth instead of renting a vehicle.
In closing, part of being a savvy business owner and property investor is being a good neighbor to those around you. The above seven tips are all about doing just that through smart property management toward the noise, trash, and parking issues that commonly cause disturbance to your property’s neighbors and community.
If you don't want to have to deal with these 3 common disturbance issues, a vacation rental property manager, like us, can help you! Talk to one of our Airbnb experts today!