As Head of the Slice Claims Team, I speak with thousands of homeshare hosts every year and one thing is clear: no-one lets strangers into their home for the fun of it. Hosts are in this business to make a profit. Yet, over and over again in the quest for profit, I see hosts let their guard down. I present to you our "Top Ten" countdown to homeshare hosting bliss.
Countdown To A Perfect Rental:
#10 - Just Say No!
I get calls all the time from hosts who say, "I usually don't rent to groups or allow pets, but I'm thinking of allowing it for just this one rental.” As you can guess, that one rental inevitably goes badly. Damage is more likely with more guests and I can't tell you how many pet-stained rugs we've heard about (pets can get nervous in unfamiliar surroundings.) Stick to your comfort zone. Remember, it's your home. If a prospective rental makes you think twice there's probably a good reason why!
#9 - House Rules Are A Must!
Not only should your home listing reference your House Rules, but they should be posted in plain site in your home. Remember to include any items that are definite "No's" for your property such as: pets, parties, unapproved guests, or use of certain rooms or equipment. It'll help a guest to know what they can and can't do and provide clarity around situations they may be unsure of.
#8 - Know Your Guests!
"The Rental Platform doesn't tell me the guest's full name." We hear this all the time. It’s our understanding that on some platforms when you accept a rental request you don’t see the guest's last name. But, when you receive the confirmation of the booking, you do get their last name, along with a confirmation code and the guest's booked dates. It’s important to get the full guest name and contact information, no matter what, so don’t be shy about asking. Some of our experienced hosts will even ask guests for their Facebook or Linkedin link and simply explain, "I want to know who I am renting my home to.” Who can argue with that?
#7 - No Unapproved Guests!
I could tell you about the parents who booked a rental under their name, when the rental was really for their 17 year old son and his 20 friends for a Spring Break party trip. Or, I could tell you about the "nice young man" who rented a home when the rental was really for 7 hard drinking and smoking construction workers working on a nearby project. The point is, know your guests (see #8) and make sure they understand that all guests must be approved prior to arrival and unapproved guests are not permitted as stated in your House Rules (see #9).
#6 - Pools, Bicycles And Trampolines!
The most frequent calls we receive at Slice Claims are from customers who want to know, "Am I covered if a guest gets hurt?" First, the Slice Homeshare Insurance Policy provides $2 million in liability coverage to protect hosts in case they are sued or a claim is made against them for bodily injury or property damage. At Slice, we always take a moment to further educate our hosts. Liability coverage responds when you are liable. Let's review two examples. If your porch step is loose and a guest trips on it and gets hurt, it's clear you could be liable (because you didn’t properly maintain the step.) Coverage would almost certainly apply in that case. In contrast, if a guest decides to jump from a 2nd story window to see if they can land in the pool, you almost certainly would not be held liable for their actions or injuries. As a host, the best things you can do to prevent injury (and possible litigation) are maintain your property, follow common sense safety protocols, and again, offer clear House Rules (see #9).
# 5 - Fire!
One of the draws of renting a home rather than staying at a hotel is that your guests get a kitchen (yours.) That means romantic couples dinners or happy family breakfasts should be the norm, right? Unfortunately, we've handled claims for cracked glass cooktops, damaged countertops, broken tiles and clogged drains. It's your kitchen. Making sure it's properly set up and safe for guests can go a long way in preventing mishaps. Provide instructions when necessary and emergency contact telephone numbers just in case.
#4 - Insurance Is Not Maintenance Coverage!
We get many calls from folks just starting out as hosts who are surprised by the clean-up required after a rental. They ask if insurance will pay for cleaning or maintenance. Insurance is there to protect your property from actual physical damage and accidents, not cleaning. Your home is most definitely going to require cleaning and it will experience wear and tear—that's just part of the business model for renting out any property and you should figure the added expense into your operational costs. Insurance can help with accidents but shouldn't be relied upon as maintenance coverage.
#3 - Take Security Deposits!
While often viewed as another chore for hosts to deal with, requiring security deposits is a good thing. Just like your Homeowners or Auto insurance policy, most homeshare insurance policies have a deductible. Deductibles ensure that the insurance carrier can provide financial coverage for larger damage claims, letting the owner assume responsibility for smaller damages. Take for example a small damage caused by your guest, like a broken wine glass. This isn't something that insurance would pay for because it's likely below your deductible. So, if you don’t want to cough up 20 bucks to replace your wine glass, collect a security deposit at booking and deduct the cost at check out.
#2 - Don't Depend on Rental Platform Coverage!
"Aren't I covered by the rental platform's insurance?" It's a question we field every day from customers. Here are some things you should be aware of as a homeshare host. You are not a named insured on the platform's insurance. That means you do not have the same legal rights as a named insured. That leaves it up to the discretion of the platform whether they want to pay a claim or not. They also place requirements on hosts; like you have to first attempt to collect damages directly from guests before filing a claim, and you have to report damages prior to your next rental. And sometimes, that’s just not possible. That leads us to our number one most important action for smart homeshare hosts...
#1 - Properly Insure Your Homeshare Rental!
At Slice, we want all homeshare hosts to think about their insurance, and evaluate it in the right way. We know every rental situation is different, and Slice may not be the right solution for you, but we still want you to understand the risks and advantages of coverage, and what is and isn’t typically covered, so you can make informed decisions. For example, certain properties are better suited for an annual landlord type insurance policy or even a commercial hotel/innkeepers type policy.
As a host, you must recognize a standard Homeowners insurance policy does not anticipate repeated short term rentals and will not cover claims related to this type of business. The Slice Homeshare Insurance Policy is specifically designed for homeshare rentals. We offer very broad coverage for both the property and liability risks that hosts face. And, it's all easily purchased per nights booked, with a few clicks on our smartphone app or webpage. Check out our Homeshare Policy summary if you haven't already https://slice.is/homeshare-policy-summary/.