Neighbor Management

Neighbor Management Tips For Airbnb Hosts

Neighbor Management – The Key To Responsible Hosting

By, Sue Hoyuela

When it comes to renting rooms in your home, as a landlord, homeowner or investor, you have several options. You can rent a shared room, a private room or a whole house. In the past this has been a common practice. Many people rent to long-term tenants as a way of making extra money from unused space or even real estate investors who purchase properties for the sole purpose of renting them out to create a steady stream of rental income.

With the advent of home-sharing websites like Airbnb and VRBO, we are finding that short-term rentals are much more lucrative than long-term rentals and, people can much more easily market their short-term listings to a broader audience. This has created a dynamic and robust home-sharing marketplace, not just locally but globally.

As a result of the growing popularity of short-term rentals, there have been some grumblings from neighbors whose right to the quiet enjoyment of their homes has been disrupted by exuberant travelers.

It is time to lay down a code of conduct for both hosts and guests with respect to the neighborhoods that they are in for the mutual enjoyment of all parties. Here are some helpful tips that hosts can use to smooth the ruffled feathers of their neighbors while at the same time, making their guests’ experience better all around.

Responsible Hosting

Screening Guests

Responsible hosting begins with the screening process. Most problems are caused by disrespectful guests and there are things that they have in common that you can screen for. Big parties cause lots of noise, often late into the night, parking congestion and litter. By screening guests and asking what they plan to do while they are in town, you can avoid this type of disruption by declining the reservation right up front.

The other high-risk group of guests is locals of any kind. When asked, “If you already live in my city, why do you need to stay at my place?” Answers range from, “My landlord evicted me and I’m tired of living in a hotel.” “My wife and I had a fight and I need to find somewhere else to sleep tonight.” “I live with my parents and they won’t let my girlfriend/boyfriend stay with me.” “We’re filming a low budget movie and just need your place for a few hours.” The best recommendation for locals is to politely decline them and direct them to a hotel.

No third-party bookings! Once in a while a well-meaning friend or family member will book an Airbnb for someone else. Problems begin when the expectations are not set correctly. There is a 90% chance the guest will be unhappy with the choice of lodging, especially if they are in the hotel mindset. It is usually a shock when the address of their “hotel” turns out to be someone’s house. These guests usually cancel on the spot. If not, the guest may stay, but they have no reason to obey your house rules and can behave very disrespectfully in your home.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, you as a host will not be able to review the guest if someone else booked the stay for them. In order to maintain the integrity of Airbnb’s review system, always require that the person who books, be the person who stays.

Template for screening guests

If guests have requested to stay and they have not provided enough information, simply copy and paste this standard response into the message thread. The answers to these three questions will tell you everything you need to know in order to approve or decline their stay.

“Hello!  Thank you for your inquiry.

Before I can approve your stay, I need a little more information from you. Please let me know,

  1. Where will you be coming from?
  2. Who will you be traveling with?
  3. What will you be doing while you are in town?

I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Sincerely,

Your name here”

Remember that as the host, you decide who stays in your home and it is always ok to say, “NO!”

Neighbor Management

Noisy Guests

Everyone has the right to the quiet enjoyment of their property. And, let’s face it, vacationing guests can be quite loud and unaware that they are disturbing the peace around them. As a host, it is your job to educate your guests on the proper way to behave when they are in your home and neighborhood. Let them know that quiet hours are between 10 pm and 8 am. You can say this in your listing description, in the House Rules section and in your House Manual. In fact, I would put it in all of those places as well as in the Welcome Letter that is printed out and placed in their room, and remind them verbally during the personal greeting and welcome tour.

Parking Problems

Parking has to be the number one problem that disturbs neighbors the most. The best way to alleviate the stress, is to give up your parking space in your driveway to your guests. If you do not have a parking space, then give the guests clear instructions for where and how to park in your neighborhood. If your neighbors are still bothered, you can work with them to find a solution that works for everybody. You might even offer to pay your neighbors to use one of their parking spaces on a per-use basis. Approaching neighbors with a cool head and the intention of finding a mutually beneficial solution will result in an attitude of teamwork and respect.

Guests Having Trouble Finding The Right House

It can be very confusing for guests who are coming to a new place to figure out how to find the right house, especially if they arrive when it is dark. If guests cannot find the house easily, what they will often do is start going door to door, knocking and asking each neighbor where your house is, even if it is 2:00 in the morning. One of the best things hosts can do is provide a sign that lights up at night with the address of the house on it. And it can be very helpful if there is a landmark that you can tell the guests to look for, something that is unique to your place. If there are no natural landmarks, then you can put some sort of decoration on the front lawn like a pink flamingo or a garden gnome. Use anything that is easily recognizable that you can reference in your check in instructions to help the guests find your place much easier and not cause a nuisance for your neighbors.

Clear Communication With Your Guests

Airbnb gives you a House Manual section in each listing for you to give explicit written instructions to the guests. You can also include instructions in the Driving Directions section under the Location tab. When the guest’s reservation is confirmed, these 2 documents are automatically shared with the guests by Airbnb. Then, to cover all of your bases, include the check in instructions again in the message thread as well. You might say something like,

“Congratulations! Your reservation has been accepted. Here are 3 easy steps for checking in…”

Then go on to give them the details for checking in.

Make your instructions clear and use simple language, something that will be easy to translate in case English is not their first language. Use short sentences and do not make it too long as some guests will get overwhelmed or not bother to read it all.

Sometimes it is good to break up your instructions into several short messages over a period of time in the days leading up to their stay.

Grouchy Neighbors

Every neighborhood has them, grouchy neighbors that are just going to complain no matter what. But I’ve found that as hosts, we become ambassadors for not just our cities but our neighborhoods as well. When we take the attitude that we want to show our guests all the great things about where we live, that includes our immediate neighborhood too. When we treat our neighbors with brotherly love and respect, they tend to come around after a while. So keep it up. Be an ambassador for change for the good in your neighborhood and a Super Host to the guests from around the world that are coming to your area. It will go a long way and your efforts will be rewarded.

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