rocky 09/18/2019

How to Keep Your Neighbors Happy with Responsible Hosting

How to Keep Your Neighbors Happy with Responsible Hosting

Picture this: a disgruntled couple stands on their littered lawn after a 50-person party raged through their neighbor’s house the night before. Minutes later, the media flurries with stories about Airbnb destroying communities and neighborhoods across the country.

Let’s face it—to the outside world, the short-term rental industry has a bad rap. With every check-in, troublesome guests can pose considerable risks to properties and residential areas. Otherwise, peaceful communities may be terrorized by parties, alcohol consumption, noise violations, or worse—all as a result of vacation rentals.

As professional short-term rental operators, we know these horror stories don’t accurately reflect what goes on in the industry. But it’s on us to prove that. By hosting responsibly, we can change the stigma and build relationships with our neighbors.

What is responsible hosting?

Every industry has an unwritten code or series of rules that businesses are expected to adhere to in order to maintain the safety and protection of others. In the short-term rental space, that code is responsible hosting.

It’s what separates the good property managers from the bad, the success stories from the 6 o’clock slots in the evening news. Responsible hosting is all about being proactive in your operations as opposed to reactive. It means doing everything in your power to safeguard your properties, business and, more importantly, your community.

What does it mean to be a responsible operator?

Being a responsible operator is more than just staying on your neighbor’s good side; it’s being considerate of the environment and society as a whole. It’s essential to take the necessary steps to prevent noise violations and other disturbances from taking place at your property. If you do it right, you’ll have your neighbors and your community rooting for you. Here’s our how-to guide for responsible hosting:

1. Understand the rules and regulations

Every city has its own bylaws regulating the short-term rental industry. Before renting out your space, make sure to review these. A simple Google search will tell you whether or not short-term rentals are permitted in your city and under what conditions. If your city allows for short-term rentals, register your property and collect and pay the necessary hospitality taxes.

The next step is to check with the building in which you want to operate. Does it allow for rentals that are less than 30 days? Do they accept short-term rental guests?

Never operate where short-term rentals are forbidden. Not only will you experience friction with your building managers and neighbors, but you’ll also create an unwelcoming environment for your guests. If a guest is forced to lie about their reservation, they’re not going to leave you a 5-star review.

2. Set expectations for the guest

Before check-in time, make sure you and the guest are on the same page. In your listing, be fully upfront and disclose all relevant details about your property and the surrounding area. Make sure every guest knows what they signed up for. If your condo is in a residential area, among hundreds of long-term tenants, then say so! This makes for a great opportunity to outline what behavior is acceptable and what you don’t allow.

By being honest in your listing and communications, you’ll attract better guests—ones that make your neighbors feel safe and comfortable. Before the reservation is confirmed, be explicit about your house rules. Let everyone know you don’t allow for parties or extra guests. That way, there’s no room for misunderstandings. If the guest disagrees with your rules, let them cancel free of charge. Don’t try to salvage the reservation, you’ll regret it in the long run.

3. Have a proper guest screening process

In this industry, proper guest screening is essential to successful hosting. Without it, your business, properties, and owners are vulnerable to property damage, fraud, parties, and criminal activity. And beyond the devastating expenses, bad guests can destroy your company’s reputation in the community, making you enemy #1 in the eyes of your neighbors. Unfortunately, even one negative experience can be hard to come back from.

Whenever a new guest books one of your properties, have them reiterate their personal and travel details. Find out where they came from and what their plans are in the area. To verify their details, research them online. Type their name and phone number into Google—you’d be surprised at what you can find. If something in their story sounds suspicious, follow up with them. Know who you’re hosting!

To give you confidence in your guests, verify IDs, and validate payment before sending any check-in instructions. Then, as an extra layer of protection, collect security deposits, and sign rental agreements.

Guest screening is no easy feat. There are hundreds of things to consider and even the most diligent of property managers can make mistakes.

That’s why there are intelligent guest-screening systems like Autohost to do it for you.

4. Monitor your properties

Guest screening doesn’t stop when you send your check-in instructions. As much as we’d like to, we can’t always trust our interactions with guests. By using noise sensors, property managers can monitor the stay from check-in to check-out. If volume levels exceed a certain threshold, reach out to the guest to deescalate the situation before it gets out of control.

Pay extra attention to high-occupancy properties during high-demand dates. These are the suites targeted for parties. If a guest breaks your rules, don’t hesitate to kick them out—it’s your business at stake. Even in worst-case scenarios, a noise-monitoring device like NoiseAware can save you from excessive messes, damaged furniture, and high expenses. By being proactive and addressing volume increases as they come, you can avoid noise complaints from the neighbors.

5. Create 5-star experiences

Attract the good guests right off the bat by promising 5-star guest experiences. Focus on unique spaces, thoughtful touches, and incredible hospitality. By setting your standards high, you're more likely to book respectful guests.

Once the guest has checked in, deliver on your promises! Don’t hesitate to send them a message to see how they're doing. They’ll appreciate your dedication to quality customer service. Plus, it gives you the chance to answer any questions and address any issues before they escalate.

Create the type of stay that leaves your guests wanting to book again—or better yet, recommend your company to their friends and family. After all, good guests make good referrals. When all is said and done, your neighbors will thank you.

This guide was written by the team at The intelligent guest-screening software flags risky guests, runs Airbnb background checks and collects security deposits to create a seamless guest experience.

If you want to learn more, check out Autohost's Ultimate Guide to Guest Screening.

Protect Your Property Newsletter

Sign up to receive developing news and alerts on protecting rental properties.