Homestay and home-sharing concepts aren’t all that new. But they have changed. The dramatic rise of VRBO and Airbnb (among other services) have redefined them. At the moment in Greater Vancouver there are about five-thousand active Airbnb rentals and over 8,000 in Toronto.
The benefits are clear for travelers. They get flexible and budget friendly accommodations while receiving a more personalized experience of a locale. However, the biggest benefit may be realized by owners of these homestay and home-sharing properties. Many Canadians are using the likes of Airbnb to pay-off their mortgages.
But putting your home up on the short-term vacation rental market does not come without risk. No matter how stringent the vetting process is at your online home-sharing service, you will have strangers staying at your property. While each online community claims to cultivate trust and transparency between renters and hosts with a variety of measures, including ID-verification and community reviews, they do not offer comprehensive background or credit checks. There are protection plans in place in the event that members/renters damage your property, but these plans come with a long list of terms & conditions that leave you confused about what is and isn’t protected. For example, cash and securities, pets, personal liability, and shared or common areas are all exempt. That list goes on and on.
“The Host Guarantee should not be considered a replacement or stand-in for homeowners or renters insurance.” (Airbnb Terms & Conditions excerpt)
Without further adieu, Park Insurance has provided a list of key things that you can do to keep your vacation rental safe.
3 Tips to Protecting Your Homestay and Home-sharing Vacation Rental Property from Common Liability Concerns
1. Take Preventative Measures Regarding Water and Fire Damage
Two common concerns plague vacation rental home owners, fire and water.
Water damage is a major consideration. This infographic details some startling statistics. A recent year saw water damage account for 51% of property claims in Canada. Here in Vancouver BC (a hotbed for home-sharing) 60% of people live in condos where one burst pipe can damage multiple dwellings. Do you want to accept this risk while your home is occupied by a homestay traveler? Before putting your home up for offer on a home-sharing service, follow the 11-steps outlined in the above infographic to protect it from water damage.
Fire is also an impending threat. You can’t expect short-terms renters to take the same day-to-day precautions when stepping in and out of your property to explore the city. Take preventive measures before they arrive. Cover all electrical outlets but two (for their personal devices). Make sure that the counter surrounding the kitchen stove is clear of flammables. Move all combustibles away from baseboard heaters, and store all candles away for safekeeping until you return. Lastly, print this list of precautions and post it on the fridge to serve as a reminder for renters too.
2. Take Preventative Measures Against the Home-share Break-in
While you exercise trust by inviting homestay renters into your home, you can’t expect the same from local burglars. In fact, the online home-sharing service concept has created a new wave of break-in opportunity.
Savvy online criminals comb through home-sharing websites to identify addresses near them. They then match your host profile with your personal social media profiles to see what you’re up to. If there is any indication that you’re away, they know that your home is probably being inhabited by a short-term renter. They know that these travelers won’t be as careful when it comes to protecting your home as you are. They also know that the same individuals will be away from the property more often than not, out and about experiencing the locale. They are also aware that neighbours will be less suspicious of strangers, given that you as a homeowner have put your home up for offer on a homestay service. Simply put, burglars love the growth of the home-sharing community. To them, it’s one big hotel resort without a check-in lobby or on-site security.
Do all that you can to protect your home while you have given it up for short-term accommodations. Follow these social media safety tips to keep your home safe while you are away and this guide to crime-proofing your home, inside and out.
3. Receive an Independent Insurance Broker Assessment Before Putting Your Home Online
While you should educate yourself on short-term rental insurance in Canada, you need an expert opinion. Homestay / home-sharing vacation rental liabilities and terms & conditions can be complicated. Don’t attempt to decipher them on your own. Secure the services of an independent insurance broker that specializes in all types of homeowner’s insurance. The experienced insurance advisors at Park Insurance are here to help. Contact us today.