Updated: August 10, 2022
One question we often get is "what happens if someone trashes my place?" While I'm happy to say this a very rare occurrence, we want to make sure you're properly protected in the event that something like this does happen. Having said that, I wanted to take a moment to cover our policies and the following topics:
There is a lot to unpack, so let's get into it!
The best way to protect against recovering loss due to damage is to prevent damage from happening in the first place. That is why we put a strong focus on renting to the right kind of renters! The only way to ensure that we don't get bad renters is to not have renters at all, so it's not a perfect science, but the following are strategies that we employ to help ensure the incident rate is as close to zero as possible.
Once again, it's not possible to get it right 100% of the time (maybe the primary renter is responsible but they brought the wrong friend with them) so that's why we have protection in place in the event that something undesirable does happen. But first, let's understand the different types of damage, because it's not all the same.
When you're renting your home, there are inevitably going to be some wear/tear and costs that come from running your home as a business: hot water heaters fail, septic tanks need to be drained, and items break. Sometimes it's the renter's fault, sometimes it's not, and sometimes the lines are really blurry. Let's use some examples...
(1) Not the Renter's Fault:
(2) Is the Renter's Fault:
(3) Might be the Renter's Fault:
Before we get into how we recover for damages, I want to explain "the game".
"The Game" and the $100 Rule
Unfortunately, it's not as simple as...
guest breaks coffee pot --> guest pays for coffee pot
Why not? Because what's more valuable than a $30 coffee pot is a 5-star review. There are over 5,000 rental properties to choose from in the Poconos, and the higher you show up in the search results, the more eye balls are on your property and the more money you are able to make. Receiving a 5-star reviews is the best way to ensure your home is ranking as high up as possible which carries a very high indirect monetary weight! Maybe they broke the coffee pot, maybe they didn't, maybe they don't know if they did or maybe it was one of the other guests, but what we do know is the last impression they will have about the stay is us reaching out to charge them even more money for something they perhaps accidentally did (keep in mind, they just paid hundreds if not $1,000+ for their stay!).
For this reason, we like to adopt the $100 Rule. If anything is less than $100 we like to treat it as forgivable. Cost of doing business. Mistakes happen, all other signs indicate that they had a great time, so let's make sure we're preserving the positive review!
Now, there are other instances that certainly merit recovering costs. Let's break those down:
(1) Not the Renter's Fault - Simply put, if it was something that is clearly and obviously not the renter's fault, we're certainly not shaking them down to recover the damages. Can you imagine if you're renting a home, the fridge stops working, and then the host asks you for $800 to replace it? You'd be furious! Some costs will be assumed by the homeowner as the cost of doing business.
(2) Is the Renter's Fault - In this case we know without a doubt that this was the guest's fault and in these instances we do hold the guests accountable. We approach these circumstances as follows...
(3) Might be the Renter's Fault - This is where it gets tricky. Let's use the example of a chair breaking. Did the guests do something they shouldn't have that resulted in the chair breaking or was the chair perhaps getting old, wear and tear, or even maybe something the previous guests did and the next guest simply sat in it and it broke? It's hard to say. Maybe it was something they did, maybe it wasn't, so how do we approach this?
You may have heard the saying "it's not what you know, it's what you can prove" and that certainly rings true here. If we take the approach of "shaking down" a renter for something they may have done wrong it will likely play out as such...
So there are some blindspots, and damages won't always be able to be recovered when:
Then there is also your Homeowner's Policy. As a homeowner renting out your second home (or investment policy), you may be required to have coverage that extends to your guests as you rent your home. Many homeowner policies, including Traveler's and State Farm, offer a short-term rental rider that extends your homeowners coverage to the guests in your home (see below)*. However, with most-all homeowner policies, there is a deductible that needs to be met before the coverage kicks in (typically $1,000).
*Please consult with your insurance agent for details on your particular policy!
In other words, your Homeowner's Policy is important to have but is really only going to kick in and apply when:
That is a lot of digest. There is some coverage in certain areas and little to none in others. Here is a little chart summarizing where you do and don't have coverage.
Before we get into the details, I want to explain the concept of "barriers to entry". We want to make booking easy! The easier it is, the more bookings you will receive and the more money is coming your way. If we make renters jump through hoops, there will be some level of "fallout" and our understanding is that fallout is going to be greater than any security deposit or formal rental agreement will help to absolve. However, we can implement Security Deposits and Rental Agreements upon request, but it is against our recommendation to do so.
Security Deposits - As seen in the previous section, there is a lot of coverage, and a lot of strategies at our disposal to ensure renters are on their best behavior, incidents are rare, and if they do occur we can recover funds directly or through various coverages. For this reason, we do not recommend providing security deposits. We believe strongly that charging the guests a 2nd time will result in a few down-stream consequences...
However, we can implement these upon request.
Rental Agreements - this is another barrier-to-entry that we like to eliminate, as many guests might become sheepish about booking when they might not fully understand what they're signing for (especially after already agreeing to Airbnb/VRBO's T&C's). What we prefer to do is include any specific rules in the booking confirmation message (goes out right after booking) so they are informed and abreast of the relevant home and community rules. Some examples may include...
Once again, we can provide a Rental Agreement upon request.
To start, I want to address theft. While we cannot guarantee anything, I do feel inclined to mention that it is incredibly rare. First off, there really aren't "valuables" at the home. Sure, there are couches and TV's but they're quite cumbersome and someone isn't inclined to drive 2 hours on the off-chance that the home is unoccupied, the neighbors aren't around, there aren't cameras at the property to maybe be able to steal a couch.
Having said that, we should still lock up your home! And there are a few different ways to do that...
(1) Lockbox with a key inside (like this ) (2) Keypad with a code to access (like this )
If you decide to do a Keypad, you can either do so by having a static combination that does not change with each guests or, if you prefer, you can generate a new code for each guest. If you prefer to generate a new code for each guests, we will require your assistance to program the code (we are not able to generate the codes ourselves) but we will share with you the stay details and the last 4 digits of the primary renter's cell phone number so you can program the code for their stay.
In both cases, we do require a backup key. This way, if the lock fails or the key is lost we still have a way to access the home without needing to call a locksmith.
Regarding cameras, you are authorized to have exterior-facing cameras at your home to monitor the premises. If you have a hot tub, we do not recommend having it facing the hot tub. We will not be able to monitor the cameras on your behalf, but as homeowners ourselves we do recommend Blink ( here ) as an affordable camera, easy to set up, has long battery life and good motion detection technology.