THE biggest worry for hosts these days is parties. The thought of a guest having a big party with hundreds of people dancing all over your tables and hanging from your chandeliers, (or IKEA light fixtures for the majority of us!), that results in your home being completely trashed has probably crossed the minds of all 6 million Airbnb hosts. And it’s probably one of the biggest reasons some people won't even entertain the idea of opening up their home for these new money making opportunities. The likelihood is that nothing lousy will happen, most guests love and look after your home just like you do, but there are things you can do to further deter any troublemakers...
Advertising your property with a minimum stay of two or three days can act as a very effective initial deterrent for those just looking to host a ‘pop up party’. In most cases, those that intend to party the night away will book one night for maximum fun and then be out early the next morning to avoid getting caught. As insurers, we’ve had to exclude parties that happen during one night only bookings because it became such a regular occurrence, the risk was just too high. As well as potentially preventing partygoers, multi-night bookings have a lot of maintenance benefits such as lower and less frequent cleaning costs, less wear and tear and fewer suitcases going up your stairs and banging on your walls.
Rather than putting your property listing on every possible booking site, do a bit of research and make sure you’re only advertising to your ideal guests. Because of the sheer number of booking sites on the web these days, it’s impossible to know exactly who your listing is being seen by if you just unleash it to the whole world. Taking the time to look into where is best to, and more importantly, where is best not to advertise will help ensure your listing is only seen by the right type of guest.
One that we recommend if you only want your home to be seen by high-quality guests is AltoVita, a booking site that is aimed at business travellers and families. Because they only take on high-quality homes from professional management companies in the 16 European cities they operate in, guests are more likely to be responsible, frequent travellers that book extended stays. They provide guests with the ability to book the highest-quality housing, as well as giving them access to a full range of services that are designed to enhance their stay. If your home is listed with AltoVita, you can turn it into a top class short let while minimising the chances of attracting the wrong crowd. Check them out here.
Take a deposit and make it known that if you spot any signs of damage to your pad, you’ll be taking it out of the deposit. Hopefully, the thought of costs coming out of their own pocket will stop guests from holding any wild parties that could cause a lot of expensive damage. That being said, we know that the process of taking and holding a deposit has been a bit of a grey area and very admin-heavy for super short lets, so you can check out our brand new product, DEPOSITCOVER, right here for a virtual deposit solution that costs less than a cuppa!
Setting some clear house rules that have been agreed by the guests will help enforce what is and is not acceptable when staying in your property. You can send reminders in a pre-arrival text and highlight them in your property handbook to ensure your guest has no chance of missing them, and if they still choose to ignore them, then they will be penalised. Common house rules include no pets, no smoking and no events but of course, you can set your own.
While it is true that the majority of issues surrounding parties come from one-night bookings, it’s also wise to check if your multi-night booking coincides with anything that's going on in your area, such as a music festival or a sporting event. There is a higher risk of your place being subject to party-related damages during events like this as your guest could be carrying on their fun when they get back every night. During events like these, it is recommended that you put your price per night up to deter anyone just looking for somewhere mega cheap to crash for a few nights.
It’s always good to check your guests before confirming any booking with them. You can check their feedback from previous hosts they’ve stayed with and you can give them a call to go over things in more detail. Ask them to confirm how many people will be staying at the property during their stay, if they plan to have guests over and if so, for what reason. There's probably no harm in them having a few people over to watch a movie, but anything more than that might need more clarification. If you think your potential guest isn’t being truthful about their intentions, you are of course able to decline the booking.
The last thing you want is your short-term rentals causing problems between you and your neighbours, and an unruly party that disturbs them or even damages their property might cause more than a few of them! The best thing you can do is get your neighbours on side beforehand, prep them with information about who is staying, how many people are expected to be there and let them know that there is a rule that clearly states parties are not allowed. Give them a contact number and let them know that they can get in touch if anything does go wrong. Should the worst happen, at least they know you haven't purposely booked a massive party without giving them any noise warnings, and if they notify you, maybe you can get back to the property and put a stop to any prohibited behaviour.
If you are using a property management service, check whether they use our good friends at Shepper’s on-demand inspections service. Their tech lets you book checks on your property, using their network of local trusted Shepherds; they will go to your place, check on anything you like at the property such as cleanliness, damage or inventory and you’ll receive an instant digital report that's time-stamped, with photos and videos once they're done. You can even give them your house rules and if they see that they’ve been broken, they'll let you know straight away. This is a really great way to ensure that your property can still be checked on if you don’t trust or already have a rocky relationship with your neighbours! Check Shepper out right here!
For those of you that are short letting your home on a regular basis, surveillance tech so you can keep track of what happens when and because of who is probably a smart investment. You can use cameras to look back at the causes of any damages and use noise detectors to alert you if there’s so much noise that something bad must be happening. Some noise detectors are even programmed to identify exact sounds, like fire alarms. All of this tech can be automated and managed from a mobile application, so no matter where you are you’ll still feel like you have some control over your place. If you do decide to go down this route, it is important that you check the surveillance laws surrounding your location and always let your guests know where any camera or detectors are - obviously bedrooms and bathrooms are a massive no-no, but outside the front door would keep you informed of how many people are entering your property. If they know this type of tech is in place it will likely act as a pretty solid deterrent from any negative behaviour, but also you don't want them to feel like you’re spying on them or don’t trust them. Honesty is the best policy and most people will completely understand the need to monitor certain areas of a property.
Don’t forget that short term letting technically counts as a commercial activity, meaning that any damage caused by your guests won’t be covered under your normal house insurance policy. Companies like Airbnb strongly recommend that hosts take out their own comprehensive insurance to ensure they’re covered because after all, it doesn't matter how much you guest proof your pad, accidents do happen and things can go wrong in a really big and expensive way. As I previously highlighted, we don’t cover parties that take place during one night stays anymore because the risk was so high, and it’s down to our customers to follow these recommended deterrent steps to prevent things like that happening. But of course, for anything that happens during a 2 or more night stay, we will provide cover. Don’t leave it to chance, imagine coming home to an aloe vera party gone wild that resulted in a stiletto being put through your hob… yep, that's an actual claim we’ve had, these things do happen! Now imagine how much worse it would be if you didn’t have insurance to fall back on to pay it. Just because multi-night bookings are less common for parties, it doesn't mean it’ll never happen. You can contact us today to discuss insurance for Airbnb and other short-lets, to make sure you’re covered for the ‘just in cases’.