No one wants to be a party pooper, unless you’re a vacation rental owner or property manager. In fact, they can find them to be quite a nightmare, leaving their properties damaged and holding the bill for heavy cleaning or even repairs.
Top Tips to Prevent Parties at your Vacation Rental
Vacation rental hosts want their guests to have a great time. And while not all parties at short term vacation rentals are bad, more often than not hosts prefer their guests not to have parties on their property and most parties that take place at vacation rentals are disruptive. Parties held at vacation rentals often:
Violate STR regulations like fire and safety codes, limits on guest numbers, noise ordinances, etc
Disrupt neighbors and the neighborhood with loud music and noise late at night and unruly guests behaving badly
At risk of violence, fire, and other serious issues
Property damage from badly behaving guests
Property managers losing out on future profits due to being unable to list until repairs have been made
Unlawful in some areas due to local laws not allowing them in short term rentals (STRs)
Give vacation rentals a bad name and lead to further regulation and even banning of STRs in the locality
In the past few years, both Airbnb and Vrbo have begun to take action against unauthorized parties taking place in their vacation rentals. Vrbo has a number of policies and programs in place to prevent unauthorized parties on its platform. In contrast, Airbnb has instituted a complete ban on party houses globally. According to Vrbo, fewer than 0.25% of weekend bookings in the US on its platform became the subject of party-related complaints in 2022.
Vrbo’s party-prevention strategies include:
Vrbo performs a basic background check on each guest using their data such as email address, date of birth, and physical address. However the process doesn’t always require a photo ID or proof of address and guests generally receive a unique link to their email which they have to click to confirm their identity. Like in the case of many other OTAs, this process is not very stringent.
Vrbo’s new event prevention technology, launched across the US, uses a risk score system to identify bookings that are at high-risk for unauthorized events. The system takes into account a number of different factors including length of stay, lead time to check-in, number of guests, number of beds available in the listing, amenities, and the weekday of the first booked night. Hosts are notified and given the option to cancel penalty free. Unlike Airbnb, Vrbo does not automatically cancel these bookings or impose age restrictions.
The technology was piloted for 12 months in Phoenix, Arizona before launch and according to Vrbo prevented an estimated 500+ unauthorized event bookings, saving hosts approximately $2.5 million in party-related damages.
Vrbo has a no-tolerance policy for guests who have an unauthorized party in one of their vacation rentals as well as hosts who allow such events, banning them from the platform.
Vrbo does not allow same-day bookings. Moreover, hosts using their Instant Booking feature can disable it for short booking windows.
Vrbo’s partnership with NoiseAware allows enrolled hosts to be alerted via real-time updates whenever there is a nuisance issue.
Local officials and neighbors can contact Vrbo customer service directly using its Stay Neighborly web portal to have any nuisance complaints addressed.
With the Community Integrity Program, Airbnb and Vrbo have come together to work with a trusted third-party intermediary to develop a process to identify properties that have been permanently banned from each platform. The information will be made available to each company to take action. The program is expected to launch in the U.S. in 2023.
You want to make your listing description as attractive to many guests as possible, but you don’t want them to think of it as a space for parties or other events that you do not permit. Avoid phrases like ‘a great space for parties‘.
Do a quick check-up of your guests for red flags before you accept their booking. For example, if your last-minute guest is from the same town as your property, they could be trying to throw a party. However, they could also be looking for a place to stay while their home is being remodeled so it may pay to check with the guest first.
Check your guests’ reviews by your fellow hosts to find out their experience with them before accepting the booking. Read through the reviews to figure out the exact pain points.
One of the best ways to avoid parties is to screen your guests using tools like Autohost, Chekin, Safely, and Superhog.
House rules are a great way to set your guests’ expectations before they book. Because guests accept your rules before they book, they are ideally accepting your terms and conditions. Make your rules clear and easy to understand, stipulating quiet hours, if parties are allowed, and how you define a party, age restrictions, and maximum number of guests.
Vrbo allows hosts to add a damage deposit to the booking, giving guests an incentive to not damage your property for fear of losing the deposit amount.
Asking your guests to sign a short term rental agreement that explicitly forbids parties and holds guests responsible for damage and legal liability not only acts as a deterrent but will be really useful in case your guest does throw an unauthorized party at your home.
Installing a noise monitoring device will alert you whenever the noise level goes above a certain level so you can address the situation prior to it escalating. Vrbo’s partnership with NoiseAware provides Vrbo hosts with a discount on the sensor and monitoring subscription. However, hosts must disclose to guests in advance that they have a device installed.
Not all neighbors will be happy to have a short term rental next to them, but you can work to change that. Establishing a good relationship with your neighbors means they are more likely to call you first instead of the police if they detect a party at your property. Make sure they have your contact information.
Vrbo offers a paid Property Damage Protection program to hosts where they can receive payment in coverage for accidental damage to their property.
If you are managing your vacation rental remotely, make sure you have someone who lives near your property who is willing to be on call in case of an emergency. This can be a friend or a relative or you can pay someone a small amount to do so. This is even a requirement in some localities with the government requiring their contact information be posted visibly on the property.
If you have experienced a bad guest who hosted an unauthorized event on your property, you can report the misconduct to Vrbo. Vrbo will conduct an investigation to determine if their policies have been violated and take action accordingly.