Ultimate Guide to Short Term Rental Managemnet: Part 1
October 13, 2020
Hosting on AirBnB and building out a Short Term Rental business is the perfect way for many people to drive income and build a business. It’s relatively low work, the risks are generally pretty small, and it can scale incredibly well – from one unit to five, to ten, and beyond!
But hosting can also be really competitive. In popular markets, there are often hundreds, if not thousands of people who are hosting Short Term Rentals. Standing out and being a step above is a guaranteed way to have more bookings than they do, to have really high occupancy rates, and to be ranked well enough to drive as much revenue as possible.
If you want to have a great, profitable, and rewarding experience hosting on AirBnB or other Short Term Rental platforms, there’s a lot of planning and execution that goes into making it happen. Your property needs to be set up the right way, your infrastructure needs to be running smoothly, and all the management process we’ve outlined here should be in place as much as possible.
We wrote this guide to help hosts manage their properties better, and many of the things in here are applicable to all hosts – whether it’s your first time hosting or whether you’ve been at it for years.
Chapter I - Before you List
Preparing your rental before you list is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that guests remain consistently satisfied and that that whatever problems arise with the rental and the infrastructure can be dealt with efficiently, quickly, and affordably.
Listing a rental on AirBnB isn’t as easy as taking a couple of pictures on your phone and throwing them up on the site along with a quick blurb. It’s a process and a checklist of things you need to make sure are addressed and prepared. The last thing you want to have happen is to be caught blindsided by some preventative maintenance issue or have guests complain because of problems with things like heating and cooling, plumbing, etc.
What’s the best place to start, you might ask? What are the biggest things I need to look out for? We’ve put together a list of things you need to check out and address before you list. At the end of it, we’ve included a checklist so you can always stay on track and make sure your rental is in perfect shape!
It’s an encompassing topic, for sure, but there are a number of things you need to make sure are structurally sound and working. Whether your rental is an apartment or a house, most of these things will be very similar.
It’s safe to assume that your rental is… well… safe. But there’s a lot more that you need to be aware of besides just being structurally sound.
• Windows: Make sure all windows can open and close easily, and that all mechanisms for opening and closing windows are working. In the U.S. where almost all windows open vertically, make sure that they can do so easily, and make sure that they can close easily. Also make sure that all window locks are operating. In Europe and elsewhere where the majority of windows open towards the outside, make sure that they can open easily, and that they can fully close. Also make sure that the mechanisms for raising and lowering the shutters are working well. If something is sticking or is catching, there’s a chance that a guest could over-stress the mechanism and break something, causing expensive damages.
• Doors: Make sure all doors close fully and that all locks and keys are operational. Make sure that locks can close easily and replace them with newer ones if it’s difficult to get a door locked. Make sure bathroom doors don’t stick!
Painting a rental nicely and ensuring the paint is in good condition is one of the most effective> ways of sprucing up a space and giving it a clean, welcoming, and light feel. Refreshing the paint in your rental, both inside and outside, is affordable, and something which you should definitely do if the current paint job isn’t in great condition.
Color choice is also really important. Light cream walls with white painted trim is usually a good option. Purely white walls tend to get dirty much more quickly than cream colored ones and require more maintenance.
We’ve found that the following color combination tends to work really well:
There’s no way to underestimate how important the quality of your floors is. The difference between a cheap looking and tired looking floor and a refreshed, quality one can make or break a space.
First of all, if your rental has carpeting, take a look underneath it. In many older homes and apartments, carpeting was used (stupidly) to cover hardwood and oak floors. 10 times out of 10, it’s better to use the original hardwood floor instead of the carpeting. It looks nicer, it’s much easier to maintain, and it gives a much more upscale feeling to any space.
If you have no choice but to use carpeting, use durable products that are of a neutral color. Sometimes you can go with something a little darker than what your walls are, but in general you want to go for durable, low-pile options. This will make maintenance a lot easier.
When using carpeting, you need to keep in mind that this is a rental, not a home. Your guests will probably be a lot less diligent than you are in taking their shoes off at the door, and you’re going to get a lot more dirt, grime, etc. coming into the unit. Go for durability and looks, not with the top of the line options you’d use in your own home.
If you’re considering putting in plastic, fake wood flooring, don’t. It looks cheap, but it’s not that much cheaper than real wood. It damages easily, especially with water.
Faucets, Sinks, Showers, and Toilets all need to be working perfectly. Go through the entire unit and check all the faucets. Make sure they are flowing properly. If the flow is impeded, there might be calcium build up in the faucet, or some other accumulated grime.
Most sinks have cabinets underneath, check to see if there’s any leaking happening in the cabinet and if the drainpipe from the sink to the stack is leaking or moist.
Double check all the showers, run them for a few minutes and ensure that there’s good flow coming out of them.
Overflow drains in tubs should be checked to ensure that the tub never overflows as well.
In a nutshell, you’re making sure that everything from which water comes from is flowing freely, and that everywhere where water goes is unobstructed and clean.
This one is important. And it basically comes down to making sure that all the circuit brakers work and that the circuit can handle a normal number of appliances attached to it. This is especially important if you have AC systems which are plugged into the wall. You don’t want a circuit breaker tripping each time your guests turn on more the AC, Microwave, and Stove!
You also need to be sure that all electrical systems and wiring are up to code. This can be a major liability issue if they’re not up to code and can negatively impact your ability to host guests in a major way.
Go through all the outlets and make sure they’re well attached to the wall – in many older buildings and houses outlets can come loose, and this can pose a big electrical hazard.
Every now and then you should also check all the lights in your rental – lightbulbs go out, and it’s better to replace them before guests arrive instead of waiting for them to start complaining!
Heating and Air Conditioning
We cannot overstate how critical it is to have A/C in your rental during summer months, especially if the majority of your guests are from the United States. A lack of A/C in warmer areas and in most areas during the summer can turn a guest stay from a great one to a terrible one.
Yeah, the electricity is expensive, but it has to be done. It’s especially important that bedrooms have air conditioning, as this is where your guests will probably be spending most of their time.
Many houses, especially in the U.S. will have central A/C. If you have a house that doesn’t, it’s often better and more sustainable to install a mini split – each one of these can service at least two rooms. They’re efficient, durable, and quiet.
If a mini split is out of the question, window units are the best option. Ensure that they are well secured, preferably with outdoor bracing. In an apartment you’ll probably only have the ability to use window A/C’s, which makes the decision an easy one.
If the A/C is controlled by a central thermostat, typically only found with central air, buy thermostats which you can program to have a maximum heat and a minimum heat. On warm days, guests may dry and bring the temperature down as low as it can go in the hopes of cooling the place down more quickly. The temperature is controlled by the length of time the AC is running, and not by how low the setting is. They might forget to turn it off, leave it at 60 degrees, and leave you with a hefty electrical bill.
Yard, Garden, and Landscaping
Having a well maintained yard and outdoor areas is important. Mowed grass, manicured shrubs and plants, and a clean patio / yard go a long way towards making your rentals look welcoming, maintained, and pleasant.
If your rental is in an apartment, there really isn’t much you can do (some indoor plants can look nice – get ones that require minimal water such as a Sago palm, etc.).
Don’t go too overboard with your yard and outdoor areas. The more plants there are and the more intricate it is, the more time and money you have to spend maintaining it!
The easiest way to make a guest mad and have them leaving feeling disgusted is for there to be cockroaches on the premise. While this isn’t a problem which is going to affect a large number of hosts, be aware that cockroaches can find their way into your property, and that you should be on the lookout for telltale signs.
If guests mention roaches, do your best to have an exterminator come in promptly!
Wasp and hornets’ nests are also things which should never show up near your property. If you notice a large number of wasps and hornets, find the nest, spray it down with raid, and get them cleaned out as quickly as possible.
Ants are another common pest. Place ant-traps under appliances, cabinets, etc., and place some outside as well.
Mice aren’t as frequent of a problem, but they can definitely make their presence felt. If your property has a problem with mice, place traps in basement areas, outside, under the sink, and under some of the furnishings. Between visits, check the traps and clean the mice out!