If you look back ten years, who would have thought short term rentals would gain so much popularity? Yes, it was common to find these options in popular touristic areas, beachside, or sold as a time-share through an agency. But now, literally anyone can be a host and any residence can be turned into an STR.
Opening yourself and your property up to people who you don’t know can be tricky. You can provide rules and set the tone for someone’s stay through your communications, however, what happens when you have guests who simply do not follow the rules?
- No pets allowed? You’ll have guests who will ask anyway. Or, worse, sneak their pets in.
- No parties? Yep, you’ll get noise complaints or find damage that could only have happened due to a large number of people.
- No smoking on the premises? You might find cigarette butts in the planters outside.
There are people who will do exactly what they are told, and there are others who will think you won’t know or notice that they broke the rules. But as you know, customer service and communication are vital in addressing any problematic situation.
Address Rules and Outcomes Ahead of Time
Being a host of any short term rental is a risk--a risk you have to be comfortable with. Like any rental scenario, there is an array of outcomes that can happen depending on who you rent to, but because most of the time STRs are open to anyone willing to pay, you must protect yourself in writing. Yes, a contract!
Setting expectations prior to reservation is vital. This is a way for you to let your guest know what is expected, what is permissible, and what rules you have to maintain the upkeep and integrity of your space. This may include not allowing smoking on the premises, only allowing pets under a certain size, what time noise restrictions go into place, and so on.
Making the guest aware of your expectations and consequences associated with not following the rules will not only establish a foundation, but it will also provide support and documentation should you need to use it. Of course, not all rental marketplaces allow all restrictions or guarantees so check with the marketplace you’re using.
Stay Calm and Be Open
If you come across a scenario in which a customer did not properly abide by your rules, it is appropriate and recommended that you bring it to their attention. Now, dealing with conflict can be tricky. Some of the best outcomes occur when the initial approach is handled with calmness and openness. It is important to understand what happened, especially from the customer’s perspective to get a clear perspective in order to avoid any misunderstandings.
Address them in writing, preferably on the marketplace where they originally made the reservation. Clearly outline the rules, what was violated, any documentation you might have, and how you would like them to proceed. And ask for feedback from the guest so you can hear their side of things.
Once you have gathered all of the needed information from your customer, it is appropriate to remind them about your rules and try to find a way to address the issue amicably. This is where communication is crucial. At times you can find a solution that works for both parties.
There are Rules for a Reason: Taking Action
Sometimes situations aren’t as perfect as you may hope and you have guests that are also difficult to work with. In this case, you must lean on your agreement made prior to booking. The rules and payment should function as an agreement or a contract that states fees or outcomes that are reserved for situations like these. It is important you have as much information and agreements documented so that legally, you can move forward appropriately.
At the end of the day, how you communicate expectations at the beginning of your relationship with guests is going to set the tone for their stay and beyond. But when things don’t go as planned, communicate fully and often for the best result possible. Try to find a way to resolve any issues quickly and be on the lookout for any reviews coming through the scheduling marketplace so you can respond quickly (and professionally).