What is the best thing about owning a vacation rental? The renters whose visits generate considerable income. What’s the worst thing? Those same renters. How can they be both? While renters may generate revenue for vacation property owners, their tendency to break the rules and cause damage frustrates property owners and reduces profits.
Owning a vacation rental is a mixed bag. Generally speaking, it turns out to be a profitable investment over the long term. But there are plenty of hassles along the way. There also certain costs that come with owning a rental, many of which would never be incurred if vacationers treated rental properties as well as they treat their own homes.
Unfortunately, that’s not reality. If you want to know just how bad it can be for property owners, check out a lengthy and detailed post found on the Vivint website. The post goes through all the problems vacation property owners face in detail, even going so far as to offer statistics gleaned from renter surveys.
Renters Frequently Break the Rules
There is so much information in the Vivint post that it is tough to know where to start. Talking about renters breaking the rules is as good a place as any. Bear in mind that people who own vacation properties tend to establish rules they hope will protect their properties and minimize the risk of liability claims.
As an example: some rentals are limited to adults only. Owners do not want any minor children present in the home. Why? Because they don’t want to be held liable in the event a child is injured or killed on-site. Prohibiting children reduces their risk.
Rule Breaking Is Common
How often is this particular rule broken? According to the survey data in the Vivint post, some 28% of renters admitted to bringing children into the home despite their rental agreements prohibiting it.
Here are a few more rules that are commonly broken:
No smoking inside the home
Turn off the AC before leaving for the day
Take out the trash on the appropriate day
Clean the dishes after use
Respect check-in and check-out times
Respect local noise ordinances
No parties or other large gatherings.
Some rules are broken more frequently based on vacation property location. For example, vacation homes along the Outer Banks of the Carolinas are more likely to see rules violations regarding parties and large gatherings compared to neighborhood rentals in the Orlando, FL area.
Renters Damage Vacation Properties
Breaking the rules can increase a property owner’s liability risk. It can add to the expense of property maintenance, especially when property managers need to come in to take out the garbage, wash the dishes, etc. All of this is bad enough. But what frustrates vacation home owners the most is property damage.
As a whole, both short- and long-term renters are known to not treat rental properties as well as actual homeowners do. However, the problem is exacerbated when you are talking vacation rentals. Why? Because vacationers are more likely to be in party mode. They are more likely to engage in behaviors and activities capable of damaging the properties they rent.
Sitting on the Pool Table
This writer has first-hand experience here. A few years back, my wife and I joined extended family members at a beach house at the Outer Banks. This was our first year doing so. The rest of the family had rented the same house several years in a row.
On one particular morning, I decided to go down to the rec room and play a little pool. To my surprise, I found the pool table wet and covered (in spots) with a light dusting of sand. An investigation revealed that my niece and two of her friends decided to sit on the pool table and play cards after a visit to the beach.
I also discovered this was not a one-off episode. It was something she and her friends had been doing routinely for the last few years. No wonder the pool table was in such bad shape! I wasn’t surprised to discover most of the cues were broken and several of the balls went missing.
What Gets Damaged
Returning to the survey data, 53% of the respondents admitted to doing hundreds of dollars in damage to furniture. Renters admitted damaging windows, lighting, and appliances. But there is also damage to:
walls – 44%
floors – 44%
exterior components – 40%
home décor – 40%.
The survey data revealed that Gen Z vacationers were most likely to damage vacation properties – and face the highest repair bills, too. Gen X vacationers were the least likely; millennials and baby boomers were both in between.
Taking Preventative Measures
Rule breaking and property damage are so pervasive in the vacation rental sector that property owners have begun to take preventative measures. The effectiveness of those measures varies by case. There isn’t one single thing property owners can do to keep renters in check.
Almost all vacation property owners have properties inspected before and after guest visits. If anything is damaged, repair charges are assessed. If the damage is serious enough, some property owners will actually call the police.
Another common preventative method is installing wireless security cameras. Approximately 78% of vacation property owners have exterior cameras to monitor guest activity. Approximately 71% have installed interior cameras and 54% have installed video doorbells.
Installing video cameras is subject to state law. All the states allow external cameras without issue. Interior cameras are another matter. Some states prohibit them entirely while others only allow them in common areas, like dining rooms and great rooms. They are not allowed in bedrooms or bathrooms.
Renters are a lot like spouses. You cannot live with them or without them. Renters are simultaneously the best and worst aspects of owning a vacation property. You cannot generate revenue without them. At the same time, they sometimes create more hassle than they are worth. What is a vacation property owner to do?