The holidays are almost here! People are looking to get away from the city to unwind at holiday rentals. As a vacation property owner, this means you have to take advantage of this time while it lasts. To make sure you properly run your holiday rental, we’ve compiled a few common mistakes in holiday rental management and what you can do to mitigate them.
#1 Considering your needs instead of your tenants
Holiday rental owners have a habit of decorating their property in a way that suits their needs instead of their tenants. This is particularly true for owners who also use their rentals for their own holidays. While there’s nothing wrong with considering your needs, you should put your potential tenant’s needs on priority. In other words, what you want isn’t as important.
For example, rather than placing a bunk bed in the guest bedroom for your grandkids, place a king-sized bed because that’ll be more useful for a wide pool of potential tenants. Decorate to the tastes of the masses, too – this means staying away from overly trendy interiors and keeping your holiday rental as simple and “people-pleasing” as possible. Keep in mind that your tenants will be using the rental more than you, so it might as well be tailor-made for them.
#2 Not taking professional photos
How do you want your tenants to feel when they stay at your holiday rental? Do you want them to feel renewed when the sun’s warmth kisses their cheeks, or reminisce about their childhood when they watch the snowflakes dance down from the sky? Whatever “novel-worthy” feeling you want your guests to experience, you’ve got to give them a taste of it using great photography.
But what do most holiday rental owners do? They take pictures of their property with their smartphones and call it a day. Unfortunately, this doesn’t highlight its features, and in turn, fails to convince people that your rental is the best place to be. Even if you know your rental is picture-perfect, you’ll want to prove to your future tenants that it is.
A property management company has expertise in property staging and connections to some of the top real estate photographers. While it will cost more to hire a professional, the return on investment (ROI) in terms of the number of bookings will make it invaluable to your operations.
#3 Not collecting a damage deposit
We’re not saying that all tenants will trash your property, but if bad luck strikes, some of them will. They’ll make a mess in the kitchen, spill an entire bottle of wine on your new carpets, or even break the bed for reasons we’d rather not say.
Be sure to collect a security deposit to protect yourself and your property in case of accidents caused by tenants. Maintain detailed records of all work orders, receipts, etc. so you can deduct the exact amount, and make sure to return the extra money to your tenant.
You can’t ask your tenants to pay out of pocket, and definitely not if they didn’t agree to it in the first place. You must inform your tenants about the deposit because you can’t decide to collect it at a moment’s notice. If you fail to tell them about the fee and force them to pay, brace yourself – you’ll probably have to face them in court.
Pro Tip: Consult a property management company if there are specific laws in your state that require you to store the security deposit in a separate account. They can also connect you with contractors who can offer their services at reasonably lower rates. That way, your tenants won’t be too upset about the deduction.
#4 Failing to set rules and regulations
Without rules, your tenants won’t bother to care for your rental. How will they know what they’re supposed to do when you didn’t discuss the rules with them at all? For example, if you don’t make it clear that they need to throw out the trash, you can’t expect them to do it freely.
Furthermore, if you fail to establish what they can and can’t do, they will also be free from any liability. For instance, in case they damage the fridge, you can’t force them to cover the repair costs if that repercussion isn’t clearly defined in the contract. As a general rule, anything that isn’t written in the lease agreement can’t be legally binding.
A South Florida property management firm can help you prepare a set of rules and regulations for your holiday home. They’ll make sure they’re not too strict (no one wants to be a party-pooper, particularly in short-term rentals) yet not too lenient.
#5 Failing to set the correct rent
Setting the right rental rate can be tricky because it’s a balancing act. If it’s too pricey, people will opt for cheaper places and will likely choose your competitors’ properties. However, if it’s too low, people will assume there’s something wrong with your property and that there’s a catch. What’s more, you have to consider the time of the year – if it’s the low season, you’ll want to lower your rate to encourage long-term guests to choose you. But if it’s the peak season, you have to be able to make the most out of it while being budget-friendly.
With the help of a property management agent, you can make sure your property is priced right, whatever time of the year. They’ll constantly compare your property to similar properties to make sure you aren’t over-charging or under-charging your guests.
#6 Forgetting to request reviews
Many holiday rental owners are worried that reviews will ruin their reputation. However, the advantages of reviews outweigh their disadvantages. Reviews have to power to shape a person’s opinion of your property. If they read a positive review, they’ll consider that as “proof” that your property is an excellent choice. Reviews also show people that your rental is real and that you aren’t out to scam them. Plus, it’s a well-known fact that customer testimonials can influence a person’s purchasing decisions.
Don’t be afraid to ask your tenants for reviews, even if they can’t give you a five-star rating. People want truthful testimonies from your past tenants.
Manage Your Holiday Rental With Luxury Property Care
Is your property ready to give your guests a warm welcome? If not, don’t worry – the experts at Luxury Property Care are here to help you get on your guests’ “Nice List”. We provide full-service property management for short-term rentals in South Florida. From decorating your home for the holidays to making sure your guests have everything they’d ever need, we’re here to do it all so you don’t have to.