We don’t appreciate neighbors enough. At their best, they can be a wonderful resource, and a helping hand. They know the building and neighborhood intimately, and can tell you where to go when your remote needs a change of batteries, and what food to order when guests ask for takeout recommendations. They make the community secure, and their smiling face can act as a warm welcome for your guests.
Neighbors, and neighborhoods, are also what distinguishes your holiday rental from a hotel. Living alongside the locals is an integral part of a short term rental experience. But to have good neighbors, you need to be one yourself – even if you’re not physically next-door most of the time. And the stakes are high – bad relationships with neighbors can convert into a major obstacle for your business and a deterrent for your guests.
So, how to be a good neighbor as a short term rental host? It turns out that it comes down to two key factors: communication and making sure your guests treat your home and your neighbors as if they were theirs. Hopefully, most of your customers already behave this way. For the troublesome few, you need to set rules, and have a reliable way to enforce them.
As in any relationship, communication is key when it comes to getting along with your neighbors. Start by introducing yourself and letting them know that you’re running a short-term rental business in the neighborhood. Frame the conversation as a dialogue – ask about their concerns, listen, and offer solutions where possible.
Remember that no-one wants to deal with endless sleepless nights just because there’s an Airbnb next door, and explain how you’re planning to make sure that your neighbors are not inconvenienced by your guests. Offer your contact information and check in regularly.
Lastly, try to use them as allies in your struggle with troublesome guests – encourage them to always contact you with any complaints, no matter how small they might be. And when they do complain, identify the problem, and act. This way, they won’t ever have a reason to report you to the police or neighborhood council without your knowledge.
Setting up house rules has become a standard way to disencourage potentially problematic guests from staying with you. There is no one ‘right’ template to use here – it will largely depend on the local culture, the STR platform, and the type of property. To get an idea of what to look out for, read through other listings in your area, and talk to your neighbors. Perhaps you want to specify quiet hours? Ban events or unregistered guests altogether? How do you feel about smoking and pets? And what happens if a guest loses their key, leaves the A/C blasting for no reason, or damages the property?
Whatever you decide on, make it crystal clear in your house rules. Be specific, so that there is no room for misinterpretations, and outline the consequences of breaking the rules. At the same time, make sure that you can enforce your regulations. Depending on the booking platform, different measures may be available to you. On Airbnb for example you can set up a security deposit, but you’ll have to file a claim everytime you need to use it. Alternatively, or as an additional measure, you can leave detailed negative guest reviews for those who deserve it.
Reviews can also be a great resource for screening your guests. If you see low scores and complaints from previous hosts, it might be a good indication that you should reject their reservation. You can also try contacting the guest before you confirm the booking to see if they inspire your trust. In any case, whenever possible, verify the visitors’ identities (for example, through Airbnb’s ID verification feature) to make sure you know who you’re sharing your home with.
Another way to think about guest screening is to think about who is most likely to cause trouble in your home. If space is scarce and not childproofed, perhaps excluding families with young children is a good idea. If you want to avoid parties, limit the amount of guests that can stay at your place, and introduce a penalty charge for each person over the limit. Additionally, consider setting up a minimum visitor age that will ban most college students and younger guests.
Some hosts also disable the ability to book 24h stays, especially around major holidays, which diminishes the probability of bookings made for party purposes. All those limitations will of course inevitably lead to a decrease in revenue, and can be quite time-consuming, so you will need to figure out how much time and effort you want to commit when it comes to screening your guests.
If you’d rather avoid spending a lot of time on screening guests, setting up a noise monitoring system might be a better option. Smart home sensors, such as Minut for instance, can give you an insight into what’s going on in your home, wherever you are. They measure motion, temperature, humidity, and, perhaps most importantly, sound levels, supplying you both with real-time and historical data (helpful in fighting false noise complaints and filing Airbnb deposit claims.) Unlike cameras, they don’t record or listen, so you don’t have to worry about violating your guests’ privacy.
Depending on how you set them up, they can also notify you when the noise level rises above the threshold for an extended period of time (you can pick an interval between 5 and 15 minutes) – so that you know when your guests are blasting music, but don’t get alerted every time a door slams. This way, you can act on the noise complaint before you even hear it from disgruntled neighbors.
And if you’re worried about having to monitor your phone day and night, Minut offers a subscription service called Minut Pro that automates guest communications by sending the guests an SMS and/or the device flashing and sounding whenever they need to quieten down. It also integrates with some PMS systems – such as Guesty – so that guest contact information is easily accessible.
In other words, monitoring systems can help you enforce your house rules, and decrease the need for diligent pre-screening. If you do install one, make sure to inform your neighbors – it will surely give them a greater peace of mind knowing that you can act quickly whenever something goes wrong. Especially since they can also detect other alarms going off, and alert you whenever that happens; and let you know of any drastic temperature and humidity changes when the guests leave the tap open or the A/C on.
The perks of being a good neighbor
While it might not be initially obvious, in its essence, being a good neighbor means protecting your property and your business. If you work with them, and not against them, neighbors can become an alert pair of eyes and a friendly smile when you’re not around to keep an eye on your home or welcome the guests yourself.
This article is guest written by Minut
Protect your home, your neighbors’ peace and quiet and your guests’ privacy with Minut. Get real-time analytics and notifications on noise, motion, temperature and humidity in your property, from anywhere in the world. Prevent parties, look after your home and build trust with neighbors. All without compromising on privacy.