Hosting your property on VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) can be a lucrative venture, but it’s not without its risks. Scammers and undesirable guests can pose significant challenges to hosts, potentially leading to financial losses and property damage. In this blog post, we will share ten invaluable tips to help hosts protect themselves against VRBO scams and unwelcome visitors.
Vet Your Guests Thoroughly
The key to avoiding bad guests is proper vetting. Go beyond just reading guest reviews and messages. Ask for verifiable identification, and use reliable platforms like Airbnb’s Verified ID program. Don’t hesitate to decline reservations if something feels off.
Secure Your Listing’s Online Presence
Scammers often create fraudulent listings to trick unsuspecting hosts. Regularly search for your property online and report any unauthorized listings or suspicious activity to VRBO. Maintain control over your property’s online presence.
Leverage a Trustworthy Payment System
Avoid under-the-table payments or third-party arrangements. Rely on VRBO’s secure payment system to ensure you receive your dues and minimize the risk of fraudulent transactions.
Implement a Strict Cancellation Policy
Enforce a well-defined cancellation policy that discourages last-minute cancellations and minimizes the likelihood of potential scammers using your property as a fallback option.
Require a Security Deposit
Protect your property from damage by requiring a security deposit from guests. Be transparent about this requirement in your listing, and outline the conditions under which the deposit may be withheld.
Be Cautious of Overly Generous Offers
If a guest offers to pay more than the listed price, proceed with caution. High-pressure tactics and excessive offers can be red flags for potential scams.
Install Security Measures
Invest in security measures like smart locks, security cameras, and alarm systems to deter unauthorized access and document any suspicious activity.
Establish Clear House Rules
Set clear and comprehensive house rules in your listing. Specify expectations regarding occupancy limits, noise, and any other important guidelines to minimize conflicts with guests.
Maintain open and clear communication with your guests throughout their stay. Encourage them to report any issues immediately, allowing you to address them promptly and avoid negative experiences.
Build a Strong Network of Neighbors and Nearby Hosts
Establishing connections with your neighbors and fellow VRBO hosts in the vicinity can be an excellent way to safeguard your property. Neighbors can help keep an eye on your rental, report any unusual activity, and assist in emergency situations. Sharing information with nearby hosts about problematic guests or suspicious behavior can also help protect the entire community of hosts in your area.
Invest in Liability Insurance
While you may have homeowners or renters insurance, it’s wise to consider additional liability coverage tailored to your vacation rental. This specialized insurance can protect you in case of accidents or damages caused by guests. Consult with an insurance agent who understands the unique risks associated with short-term rentals to ensure you have the right coverage in place.
Utilize VRBO’s Secure Messaging System
VRBO provides a secure messaging system for hosts and guests to communicate. Encourage guests to use this system for all correspondence related to their stay. By keeping communication within the platform, you have a record of all interactions, making it easier to resolve any disputes or issues that may arise
Stay Informed About Local Regulations
Municipal regulations regarding short-term rentals can vary widely. Stay informed about the specific laws and regulations in your area. Compliance not only helps you avoid potential legal issues but also contributes to a positive relationship with your neighbors and local authorities. Regularly check for updates and changes to local regulations to ensure you remain in compliance.
Keep detailed records of all interactions with guests, including messages, agreements, and check-in/check-out procedures. This documentation can be invaluable in case of disputes or issues.
Screen Potential Guests Using Social Media
In today’s digital age, social media can be a valuable tool for assessing potential guests. After confirming a reservation, discreetly check their profiles on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. While this may not guarantee a guest’s credibility, it can provide additional insights and help you make a more informed decision.
Consider Identity Verification Services
For an extra layer of security, consider utilizing identity verification services. These third-party services can confirm a guest’s identity through various means, such as document validation and background checks. While they may come at an additional cost, they can offer peace of mind and help ensure that your property remains in trustworthy hands.
As a VRBO host, your property is a valuable asset, and protecting it from scams and bad guests should be a top priority. By implementing these ten tips, you can significantly reduce the risks associated with hosting and ensure a safer, more enjoyable experience for both you and your guests. Remember, vigilance and thoroughness are your best allies in the world of vacation rentals.