Many people from all over the world enjoy their Orlando vacations so much they buy a home here to rent out to holiday travellers when they’re away. Short-term rentals are a popular way for you to generate some additional income, and provide a return on your investment.
Renting your home doesn’t come without risk. There is always the possibility that a guest may damage and/or steal your belongings. Guests may also disturb the other neighbors by making too much noise, blocking driveways, etc.
The best insurance policy against this type of loss is to properly screen your rental guests.
Guest Screening by Vacation Websites
Many vacation rental websites like Airbnb, HomeAway or VRBO do some screening before they allow users to access their rental listings. The type of screening done varies from company to company. Essentially, these websites will attempt to verify that each user is a real person with a valid physical address. But the companies don’t run background checks on their users. So it’s up to you to be proactive and do your own screening.
Guest Screening by Property Owners
Talking to potential guests on the phone is the best way to evaluate potential tenants. During your call, you should get answers to the following questions:
- What is the purpose of your trip?
- Have you stayed in a short-term rental before? If so, can you provide references?
- How many adults and children will be staying in the rental?
- Do you smoke?
- Do you plan to bring any pets to the property?
There are some questions that you are NOT allowed to ask a potential renter, because they may violate federal, state and local anti-discrimination housing laws. The Federal Fair Housing Act specifically prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and presence of children.
You also can’t ask a guest if they have ever been arrested. But you can ask if they have ever been convicted of a crime.
During your phone conversation, make sure you stress that this property is your second home, and you expect your guests to be considerate of your neighbors. This will help encourage them to take good care of your property during their stay. Be sure to explain any other rules, such as whether you have a no smoking policy, and leave a copy of the rules in plain sight in your home for future reference.
Online Guest Screening
You can also attempt to get more information about prospective guests by searching online. There are websites that allow you to do a “reverse phone number” or “reverse address” search to see if the information they provided matches what’s available online. You can also try searching their Facebook or LinkedIn profiles.
Security Deposit and Rental Agreement
Once you’ve fully vetted your guest, make sure you have them sign a written rental agreement, and provide a security deposit to cover any damages.