Archives For Policies & Procedures

"Ice storm" on flickr, by Amanda B (CC BY 2.0)From a drought in California to snow in Texas, transportation blocked by ice storms and blackouts—not to mention the introduction of “polar vortex” into everyday vocabulary—it’s been an unpredictable season for traveling.

What do you do when your guests’ vacation is derailed by extreme weather—or worse, they can’t even make the journey to start their trip?

How you respond to any particular situation depends a lot on you and the relationship you have with your guests; there are no clear-cut answers, and it’s unlikely you’ll hit the same unexpected situation twice. But here are some ideas and best practices from other vacation rental owners. Continue Reading…

"Money Girl" on flickr, by Tax Credits (CC BY 2.0)While not every vacation rental owner accepts them yet, online reservations are gaining traction in the vacation rental industry. That means processing payments online is important, but choosing a vendor that fits your specific needs takes time and research..

PayPal has been a trailblazer in e-commerce for more than a decade, and for many businesses it’s the easy choice: a proven and familiar name in a space that’s new and still rapidly evolving.

Despite PayPal’s position as a leader, it’s a platform created to appeal to many different industries – and it may or may not be the right solution for your business. Over the past couple of years, the e-commerce space has been flooded with new options, and some might fit your needs better.

If you’re looking at online payment options, here are questions to ask a potential vendor. Continue Reading…

They’re familiar, easily available, require little-if-any overhead, and are almost as good as cash when it comes to the hands-on satisfaction of having money in your pocket. But if your vacation rental is still dealing with checks, are you leaving yourself exposed?

"Check Writing" on flickr, by David Goehring (CC BY 2.0)Beyond the fact that travelers strongly prefer to use credit cards, many vacation rental owners have run their businesses using checks for years with no problem.

But as the more unfortunate will tell you, it only takes once. Beyond the misrepresentation of using a lost or stolen checkbook, checks are vulnerable to counterfeiting, alteration and forgery. There’s also the risk of a bounced check – a potentially costly situation, even when it’s not maliciously done. Continue Reading…

"Caution Tape" on flickr, by Picture Perfect Pose (CC BY 2.0)Not every vacation rental owner has a tale to share about The Nightmare Guest – but plenty do. While most guests come and go with few if any issues, owners occasionally find themselves facing some level of destruction or disruption.

Bad situations don’t need to be monumental, either. Finding out someone was puffing away in your non-smoking house, or that Fluffy made a mess on the carpet that nobody mentioned, can just as easily raise your expenses and blood pressure.

Even if you’ve never had a problem, building more hands-on customer service into your management process can help stave off problems in future and create a more positive experience for great guests who are excited to visit.

Continue Reading…

"Start Here" by Robert Kilman on flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)You’ve decided that turning your second home into a vacation rental is the right move for you.

Now what?

Getting your first reservation on the calendar is an exciting time, but — as you probably figured out while you were deciding to rent your property — there are things you need to do before you can throw your doors open.

Continue Reading…

"Broken Reflection" from Flickr, by shinealightFor most vacation rental owners, property damage from careless or destructive guests is rare; screening, renter restrictions and damage deposits — as at least some would argue — help reduce the risk for outright bad guests.

But when you’re left facing post-rental repairs or extreme cleaning, should you keep the damage deposit, pursue a bigger claim (when warranted), or take a deep breath and move on?

Document everything

Before you decide what to do next, carefully document the damage with photos that are stamped with both the date and time and make detailed notes so you have a record to refer to later.

You may not be the first person on site, especially if you don’t live near your vacation rental, so have proper protocol in place for your property manager, cleaning crew or anyone else who may be there.

For example: ask them to contact you first, then take photos on your behalf if you’re not in a position to get to the home right away. Continue Reading…

vacation rental disabilities ADA

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), enacted in 1990, federally mandates that public buildings and workplaces must be accessible to persons with disabilities. It applies to hotels, resorts, campgrounds and public parks — but does it apply to vacation rentals?

The short answer is usually “No”, but there are a few exceptions.

Continue Reading…

lake tahoe countiesWhether attracted by the skiing during the winter months, or by hiking and sandy beaches when the weather is warmer, Lake Tahoe is one of the top vacation destinations in the U.S.

That makes it a popular location for vacation home owners, too, and there are more than 4,000 rentals listed – on both sides of the California/Nevada border – through VRBO.com alone.

If you have, or are considering, a vacation rental in the Lake Tahoe area, what do you need to know? Most importantly, that it’s one lake with many different rules! Make sure you’re clear which jurisdiction your home is located in and which rules apply to your particular property.

Continue Reading…

orlando vacation rentalFlorida is one of a handful of places in the U.S. where vacation homes are a standard vacation stay option. As such, the rules and regulations in Orlando and Kissimmee are fairly set, though not always straightforward. If you intend to comply with them, the first hurdle is the biggest: the Orlando and Kissimmee zoning laws. Take note that Orlando is part of Orange county, while neighboring Kissimmee, is actually part of Osceola county. Only certain areas allow short-term rentals (less than 180 days), and even within those areas you may need to get approval.

If you’re in the right zone, here’s a quick rundown of the licenses, taxes and fees required to rent your vacation home in Orlando and Kissimmee. Continue Reading…

Often new vacation rental owners ask me how I balance using my own home as a second property and renting it out as a vacation rental during the times I’m not there. While I want my home to be comfortable and suit my own personal tastes, I have to balance that with the tastes of my guests, as well as the safety of my personal items.

Your guests should feel like it’s their home for the duration of their stay. For most travelers who’ve chosen a vacation rental, this means homey, yet sparse, so they can settle in. Here’s a few tips for de-personalizing your space for others’ use, but still keeping your vacation home friendly for your own needs.

decluttered bedroom

Create a cohesive theme

Give your home a cohesive theme (i.e. ski lodge, tropical), but don’t stylize it completely to your personal taste. A few key pieces you love are welcome, but might need to be put away when you have guests.

Empty drawers

Make sure you empty dresser and cabinet drawers of unnecessary items prior to guests arrival. May travelers like to unpack their personal items into the drawers to help them settle in. Continue Reading…