Security Cameras and Airbnb Rentals

With all of the security options out there, it’s tempting to want to protect your investment by recording everything that goes on when you are hosting Airbnb guests. You might think that because you own the space you’re renting, you are allowed to record what goes on when you aren’t there. This is not the case.

If you are going to use security cameras on the property that you are renting on Airbnb, you MUST disclose their locations to your guests. You should be sure to include this information prominently in your listing. Failure to inform your guests of recording devices may result in reservation cancelation and host fees charged to you. This is a non-negotiable rule set by Airbnb for all of their hosts. This includes any camera or device that captures video, audio, or still images.

Even if you disclose the location, you are not allowed to have recording devices in any private areas like bedrooms and bathrooms within your rental.

One other note, your guests are also not allowed to record you or other guests staying in your rental without consent. So, the policy goes both ways.

As a good rule of thumb, make sure you consult the Airbnb hosting policies before putting any sort of recording device on your property. You don’t want to unknowingly put your hosting status or ability to use the service in jeopardy.

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Collecting Rent Through Chaos

Dealing with the financials and collecting rents is one of the most important aspects of a property manager’s duties. The larger the operation and the more properties there are, you can anticipate, based on scale alone, that your delinquencies will increase. As you navigate this part of the process, how you respond and the methods used can mean the difference between a successful payday, three-day notice or eviction. If that wasn’t enough, how about introducing a global pandemic to the fold?

This is the current reality and state of affairs and every property manager is having to adjust to the situation. There is no training, past experience, nor guidelines to follow. To make it more puzzling, each state is wrestling with different policies and protocols and it can seem as though the U.S. government is changing time frames on social distancing and industries deemed “essential” by the week.

Most notable is the economic impact the rising unemployment has had across the world. With the inability for Americans to go to work and earn income, it was only a matter of time before the rental industry was affected. Well, that time is upon us, and understanding the laws, your obligations to both owners and tenants and setting a reasonable and consistent standard is what you will need to weather the storm. Let’s have a go.

Have compassion, but be fair.

This may be an unorthodox first item on the list. With owners and bills to pay, management fees to collect and maintenance issues to address, the last thing you may think of is compassion. However, the truth is that people are scared. To add more stress, many have lost their jobs, or worse, may have had family or friends impacted by the pandemic. The more you listen and show compassion, the better your chances of working out the situation will be.

With that stated, having compassion doesn’t mean being taken advantage of. Unfortunately, there will be those who also use this situation as an excuse to not pay. One way to prevent that is to require a doctor’s note or documentation from their employers stating how they have been affected or if they in fact have been terminated. Doing this helps everyone stay honest and also provides feedback for your owners.

Know your laws.

In property management, this goes without saying. However, with the current mandated eviction moratorium, you must be clear on what your capacities are. Make sure to check your local and national government resources daily and abide by what is deemed appropriate.

Set up payment plans.

Although the pandemic is currently preventing most evictions from proceeding, it is not consenting that past-due rents do not have to eventually be paid back. Once states and their communities start to re-open, it would behoove any property manager to already have a payment plan in place for tenants. Talk with your owners and tenants alike and see what the best compromise is for both parties.

Make all announcements in writing.

Currently, one of the big issues is all the changing policies, mixed information and messages we are getting from the media, family and friends. If false information is cited to your tenants or owners, this can be a disaster and have serious legal repercussions down the road. To be safe, never assume or speak in hearsay. If you feel any kind of major announcement for your tenants or owners is necessary, make sure you have them done in writing and provide the source. Having this approach can reduce your liabilities and protect you from providing incorrect information.

Consider virtual showings.

This is an instance where technology can be extremely useful and provide the ability to showcase a property without the fears a live tour may bring in the current times. There are several platforms that are offering great options for virtual tours and it may be something to consider. Of course, economics comes into play and you should determine if your returns would be worth the investment. If you’re a smaller operation, then doing a simple phone tour may be the best option. Be sure to keep it short and sweet, as most people are just looking for a basic overall description, not a detailed grand showcase.

These are some fundamentals that will hopefully help you navigate during these fickle times. Your biggest takeaway should be to set up consistent protocols based on state and country mandates, keep everything in writing, set up payment plans and, most importantly, be kind. As we all move through this, hopefully we can use the opportunity to show compassion and, at the same time, facilitate proper management duties for both tenants and owners alike. In the end, this is the best way to prevail through the chaos and your tenants and owners will thank you for it.

Bedbugs: An Airbnb Host’s Worst Nightmare

It’s every Airbnb host’s worst nightmare – one of your guests calls to tell you that you have bedbugs. Most hosts PANIC when they hear this. You imagine your reputation going down the tubes, you worry that your cleaning service didn’t do what you paid for, you picture expensive mitigation. The best thing to do in this situation is to remain calm.

Bedbugs travel on people’s clothes, linens, and luggage, so there is always a risk when you rent your space out to people that they will bring bedbugs into your rental. It doesn’t mean that your space is dirty and it isn’t a problem that can’t be solved. HAVING BEDBUGS DOES NOT MEAN YOU’RE A BAD HOST.  

The key to getting the situation under control and maintaining a positive reputation is to handle the situation methodically, quickly, and professionally. Here’s what you need to know.

Help Your Guests

Start by contacting Airbnb. They have a team to support hosts, and they can help you to issue a refund to your guests and also quickly help find them somewhere else to stay. This is a stressful time for your guests and you want to do everything you can to make the experience as positive as possible. This is the right thing to do, but also helps to make sure you don’t get bad reviews that will impact your ability to rent once the bedbugs have been eliminated.

Once your guests have been refunded and they are comfortably staying in another rental, you can start addressing the issue at your property.

Make Your Listing Unavailable on Airbnb

Get on Airbnb ASAP and make your listing unavailable. Before anyone else can rent your space, you need to make sure that it’s completely free of bedbugs. Based on how soon you can get an extermination company out to your rental, you will have to decide if you need to cancel any of your existing reservations.

Do Bedbug Mitigation in Your Rental

In order to start making money again as quickly possible, you need to get a professional company out to do mitigation as soon as you can. They will guide you through the process, but you will likely have to wash ALL linens and towels, you may have to empty all cabinets and closets, and there may be a period of time when people are unable to go into the space. The bottom line is that you want to make sure that your rental is completely free of bedbugs before you host another guest.

It may be beneficial to have another treatment done 30 days after the first one to make sure that there were no eggs that hatched after the first treatment (most bedbug treatments don’t kill eggs). Again, your exterminator will be an expert, so talk to them about the best way to handle it.

Preventing Future Infestations

There isn’t a lot that you can do to stop future guests from bringing bedbugs into your rental. But you can do everything possible to avoid an exposure being an infestation.

  • Avoid fabric headboards
  • Wash ALL sheets, pillows, and comforters in hot water between every guest
  • Use bed protectors that are rated to protect against bedbugs
  • Mop your floors once per week with Pine Sol

We hope that this never happens to you, but if it does you’ll be ready!