How to Prevent Cottage Rental Disasters by Playing the Insurance Card

This guest post is by Phil Schofield of Schofields Insurance

pool_rules At some point, holiday cottage rental owners will come up against problem vacationers. Unfortunately, it’s an occupational hazard – not every booking is good for business. Avoiding certain ‘difficult guests’ can result in fewer headaches and a higher quality experience for the guests you do want.

After all, your time isn’t free and you never get it back, so it’s better to use your resources on the guests you do want, rather than those who are more hassle than they are worth.

So how do you tell certain guests “Thanks But No Thanks” and that they are just not a good fit for your rental?

In certain situations, insurance can be used to help deter certain bookings/events that could potentially result in damage or extra work at your vacation rental. However, insurance isn’t a catch-all and some of these ‘excuses’ may not be technically true for all insurers – so check with yours.

The extended family/party animals

Most owners have experienced (or had suspicions) that the maximum occupancy rule at their rental has been abused. Extra family staying over and converting the living room into a bedroom – sound familiar? Usually, this is because the traveler doesn’t want to pay extra to stay in a larger property that would be more suitable for the number of guests.

There are also those who (rather than paying for a suitable venue) think that your rental would be the perfect place to hold a ‘friends and family bbq’ or a ‘post-wedding gathering’. Basically, a party.

These can easily lead to extra work and lost revenue due to:

  • Unnecessary damage and extra wear and tear
  • Disrupting subsequent guests and extra housekeeping costs
  • Upset neighbors due to the noise

Insurance ‘excuse’:
For both requests, and on discovery of ‘extra guests’ or ‘gatherings,’ you can explain that your insurance only covers you for the maximum number of people your property sleeps, as per your booking terms. You could also explain that your insurer has concerns about damage by non-resident guests and the consequent liability risks.

Abusing pool rules

Swimming pools are a major attraction for those looking for a cottage rental. However, they can be both hazardous and expensive to repair if misused. A torn lining and broken glass in the pool due to drinking, noise complaints due to the pool being used at night and overuse by invited friends who are staying at a local rental without a pool – all cause problems.

Insurance ‘excuse’:
This is likely to happen during a guest's stay. Again, you could explain that your insurer has concerns about liability risks and non-resident guests, doesn’t allow drinking by the pool and using the pool at night – therefore forbidding all three.

Smoking

The after effects of smoke can linger for days. If a guest has booked your rental specifically because it is non-smoking and a previous guest as broken your non-smoking rule you may have to refund and do a thorough clean.

Insurance ‘excuse’: In your booking terms, highlight smoking at the property is prohibited by your insurer. Maybe also include a financial penalty for extra cleaning due to smoking in your booking contract.

Pet lovers

Marketing your property as pet-friendly can get extra bookings. However, there are those owners who don’t accept pets and there is a market for guests (with allergies)who are looking for such rentals. “Accidents” on rugs/ bedding; claw/gnawing marks on furniture, and an unpleasant whiff can all be expensive to resolve.

Insurance ‘excuse’: Some insurers don’t cover damage by pets, so you could use this to deter those travelers looking to bring theirs. Be warned, there are those who smuggle their animals in anyway.

Guests wanting to use your belongings

No doubt you have an array of things at your cottage that you use when you stay – mountain bikes, canoes or a boat which guests may ask to use whilst staying. However, if the guest has an accident as a result of your negligence (due to poorly maintained equipment) then you could be liable. In most situations, it’s better to recommend a local supplier who rents such items.

Insurance ‘excuse’: Inform guests that you are unable to let them use items due to liability issues. Check the terms of your own insurance to see if you are covered.

To summarise

Problem guests are a fact of life for holiday rental owners. But in many situations, you can minimize the risk of disaster. Insurance can be used to help deter certain bookings/events that could result in damage or extra work at your vacation rental. It isn’t a catch-all, you should check with your insurer their position on these excuses.

Phil Schofield is a holiday rental owner and advisor at Schofields Insurance http://www.schofields.ltd.uk in the UK. You can also follow him on twitter @schofields where he shares rental and insurance advice.

Maria

Those are very good tips for protecting your vacation rental investment! Also you probably want to have reliable vacation rental cleaning service on speed dial. The faster you get the place cleaned after a guest, the easier it is to avoid stains, pests, and down time for your property.

Mark Strait

Hi Phil;

Great read. Thanks. Some very informative comments. I am in the process of renting my Stoney Lake cottage, 1st time rentor.
Do you have any suggestions as to comapnies that are reputable rental agencies that will rent the property and look after all areas from start to finish for me?
Much apprecaite hearing back from you.

Regards

Mark

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