I’ve owned and managed holiday rentals for several years now, and one thing that has always concerned me is the prospect of dirty greasy nasty little hooligans renting a property and turning it into a party house. The risks of such an incident are obvious: Property damage, noise complaints, theft, fights and assaults, and possibly even local council issues. Here’s the steps I’ve taken to greatly reduce these risks to almost zero!
Pay attention to how you’re presenting your holiday accommodation in your marketing. I always make an effort to clearly state in the marketing that the property is not a party house, and is not suitable for such events. Some managers worry that making such statements in marketing will make the property unattractive and possibly deter people from booking. Will this deter some people from booking? Yes… but that’s the point! Right away we can begin screening out undesirables before they even consider booking. I’d rather a property sits empty, than is let to people who will damage it.
Minimum Night Stays
I always impose a 4 day minimum on all my holiday properties over weekends. What I’ve found is slack-jawed neanderthals will typically book at the last minute when they and 12 of their simian buddies have scrapped together $20 each to book a place, they’ll book Friday or Saturday night only, want to check in early and check out late, and will destroy the place. Setting minimum night stay over weekends goes a long way to weed these guys out, they don’t want a holiday, they want a place to sleep off their hangover.
Set Clear ‘House Rules’
I give all guests a set of house rules when they book and again when they check in. These explain (among other things) how many occupants the unit is fire-rated for and that if this number is exceeded, all guests will be evicted and the booking forfeited – I explain this isn’t my rule, it’s a body corporate bylaw and it must legally be enforced. I find this goes a long way toward ensuring guests behave, but it also gives us a very clear boundary we can enforce should it be crossed, and gives us strong grounds to throw trouble-makers out. You can potentially argue the music wasn’t actually too loud but it’s a lot harder to argue there isn’t 14 people in your unit when there is.
Know Your Guests
A lot of sites these days give you some background on guests (AirBnB, Stayz, HomeAway, VRBO). I always take some time to check out where guests are coming from, why they are staying, their ages, and any feedback they may have, to identify any red flags. If the guests are traveling from near-by, I always ask myself, WHY are they booking accommodation? That’s often one of the biggest red flags. I frequently let properties to bucks parties, schoolies, football teams, and have found them to be some of the most respectful and tidy guests you could hope for, but you definitely get a ‘feel’ for who is going to be a problem and who isn’t. Trust your gut and don’t be afraid to ask for more information and reiterate your policies if you feel a booking seems ‘off’.
Take a Damage Bond
Every booking I take pays a minimum $500 bond, over schoolies it’s $1000. I explain if I get sound complaints, anti-social behaviour, police incidents, that money is gone, no ifs or buts. In the rare instance where I have retained their bond, I never advise them until after they’ve checked out and left the property. Possession is 9 10ths of the law, and once you have that cash, it’s a lot harder for them to get it back rather than attempting to convince them to hand over payment after the fact.
Give Owner Occupiers Your Mobile
I know, I know… this could potentially cause more trouble than the Hooray Henries but in my experience, sensible neighbours do a great job keeping an eye on guests and ensuring they are behaving themselves. I give all owner occupiers my mobile number, and explain to them very clearly that I don’t want parties or anti-social behaviour occurring in properties any more than they do. I tell them if they see any such activities, shoot me a text message any time of the day or night, and I’ll gladly respond. This not only helps me ‘keep eyes’ on my properties, it also ensures neighbours report incidents to me, rather than local councils and police. I can then make a judgement call on if I want police involved, or not. The last thing you want is council getting involved and zoning issues arising from neighbourhood disputes. I’ve found this approach has worked wonders not only strengthening my relationship with neighbours, but also keeping my listings safe from reprobates.
Bogans are generally idiots, and there’s nothing more dangerous than a drunk idiot. When I do get reports of partying, I personally do a door knock to check out the situation and speak to the primary guest, sometimes a quiet word is all that is required to get the situation sorted, but if there’s any hint of aggression, I don’t take any chances and I don’t stick around to argue about why the guests need to leave… That’s a task for police. There’s no point trying to be a hero, police have the weapons and training to deal with intoxicated, juiced-up louts, your job is to run a holiday complex, not man-handle drunken miscreants. Call the police and let them do their job.
From my family to yours at TheOnsiteManager.com.au, I want to wish you all a safe and wonderful holiday season. May all your guests be 5 star! Happy Holidays!