Vacation hosting websites like Airbnb or VRBO are becoming more popular lately as people make a bit of extra money from an empty rental apartment, a small studio, or possibly even a spare bedroom. You don't get anything for nothing, though. As a host, you have the responsibility to provide visitors with accommodations that are comfortable, clean and, above all, safe. However, this needn't become a major investment. Adding the safety measures you've taken to your space's profile will assure potential paying guests that you care about their well-being. Check out this list of basic upgrades to make for a safe, successful vacation hosting experience.
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1. Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
Protect your guests against inhaling two potentially deadly substances, smoke and carbon monoxide (CO). Alarms are relatively inexpensive and easy to install. However, don't assume that the detectors which safeguard your living space will be sufficient for a guest room or apartment, even if it is adjacent to your home. Check your local statutes or consult a licensed electrician to find out the location and number of smoke or CO detectors required. Test the devices regularly and make sure they are stocked with fresh batteries.
2. More fire safety protection
As additional fire safety protection, clearly mark an emergency fire safety escape route. Post a list of first response telephone numbers (including any prefixes that must be dialed for visitors who are not familiar with the local phone system), together with a map of your home, indicating the fire exit, in a prominent place within your guest quarters. Mount fire extinguishers accessibly, a maximum of 5 feet above the floor, with at least one per story of your house. It is highly advisable to have a fire extinguisher in your guest house or apartment, particularly if you allow cooking and/or smoking.
3. More emergency info
Here is more essential information to post for the benefit of your guests:
- Your phone number(s)
- Alternate contact info in case you are not immediately available
- Location and phone of the local 24-hour pharmacy
- Number to call for taxi or car service
- Nearest medical emergency treatment center and a list of documents to present
4. Heating and cooling
Remember that out-of-towners may not be accustomed to your local weather conditions and what to you might seem like tolerably warm or cold weather might be unbearable for them. Make sure your guest accommodation is equipped with well-functioning heating and cooling equipment. Beware of space heaters, which can easily be knocked over (the wall-mounted type help prevent this danger). Print up an instruction sheet with directions for operating the HVAC — and a reminder to turn it off before they leave!
5. Details, details
Carefully inspect the unit you'll be offering to guests and look for any other hazards. Attach easily-tippable furniture such as bookcases or clothes racks securely to the wall. Repair any loose steps, slippery flooring, dodgy electrical wiring and the like. If you're willing to rent to parents with young children, take childproofing measures, like installing cupboard and toilet locks and removing poisonous houseplants.
6. Insurance and ordinances
Before you begin merrily adding up your future profits, make sure that both you and your temporary guests will be insured. Check that your homeowner's insurance policy will cover short term, as well as long term, tenants in your house. As of January 2015, Airbnb is offering a Host Protection Insurance program in the U.S. only, with up to $1,000,000 worth of protection in case of accident. Wherever you happen to live, you should also consider investing in an umbrella policy to extend your liability coverage beyond the minimum amount. Your insurance provider will have the information that applies to your individual situation.
It's also a good idea to check your local and state ordinances regarding these sorts of in-home vacation rentals. A number of areas have regulations if not outright bans on this sort of business, and nothing ruins a vacation faster than a steep fine or a visit from the police.
This story was originally written by Laura Firszt for Networx and was republished with permission here.