While the overwhelming amount of experiences with holiday rentals are positive, one of the biggest concerns for homeowners looking to rent out their homes on platforms like Airbnb and Stayz is whether or not the place will be trashed while they’re not around.
Tools for guest screening
Around 17 million people worldwide now use Airbnb and the company has a 24/7 Trust and Safety team of more than 100 people located around the world, as well as a number of tools to help users screen guests before letting them into their home.
According to Airbnb, quoted in HuffPost, “problems are incredibly rare, but when they happen, we work hard to try and help make things right".
While that may be true, when guests do go rogue, things can get very ugly.
In June 2015, a NSW woman who rented out her home via AirBnb got a nasty surprise when she discovered the person who had rented it from her was using it as a brothel.
The host’s suspicions were raised when neighbours alerted her that there had been a steady stream of men coming and going from the property.
Despite the fact that the host had bypassed the Airbnb platform and had done a cash transcaction with the renter after the initial contact, Airbnb offered to assist in the matter.
The moral of this story, if you rent out your property without any safeguards, such as a contract, or through a reputable rental platform, you leave yourself wide open.
The bad and the really bad
A Reddit thread asking users to share their not-so-nice experiences as hosts through websites such as AirBnb and Stayz also yielded some cringe-worthy stories.
“I had a very wealthy woman who came from China in order to give birth at my house so that the child would be a US citizen,” wrote another user. “She didn't register the baby as a guest and when I returned I found diapers hidden in various places all over the house. DIRTY DIAPERS.”
Stories of out of control parties and expensive damage to property (not to mention upsetting the neighbours) have also surfaced, especially after the peak holiday season.
How to protect yourself as a host
While there are always going to be horror stories floating around, it’s important to remember that these are firmly in the minority – and that by taking some sensible precautions it’s possible to mitigate most of the risk.
The Airbnb site stresses that guests and hosts exercise common sense, such as communicating with each other before the actual stay.
Here’s more of what Airbnb recommends:
- Message on Airbnb before accepting a reservation.
- Set reservation requirements for your listings.
- Fill out your house rules and house manual.
- Add a security deposit to your listing.
- Add an insurance plan outside Airbnb.
- Read Airbnb’s Responsible Hosting page.
- Make an emergency response plan.
Proper insurance for the sharing economy
Specialist host insurance such as ShareCover can provide an increased level of cover for situations that can leave hosts exposed to significant loss or damage to their home.
It’s worth it where there is always the small risk of something going wrong with a holiday rental – and when it does… it makes for quite the tale.
Disclaimer: ShareCover is issued by Insurance Australia Limited ABN 11 000 016 722 AFS Licence No 227681 trading as ShareCover Enterprises. When making decisions about a ShareCover product, always read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS). To help you make an informed choice on insurance visit the Australian Government website: www.moneysmart.gov.au.