As an expert Sarasota vacation rental manager, we'd be remiss if we didn't cover a topic that most vacation rental property owners dread the most: How can investors successfully—and professionally—deal with damage done to their rental property?
It's a well-known fact of vacation rental ownership that seasonal rentals endure more wear and tear than their annual counterparts. Most residential properties (we're talking long-term rentals, here) can expect to spend about $1 per square foot of property for annual maintenance costs, including emergencies rolled in. However, for most extended rental properties, you should only have one property turn every lease cycle.
When you consider that successful Sarasota vacation rentals have a steady stream of guests in and out of the property, it's only natural to assume that these wear and tear costs will go up. Plus, you have the added expense of dedicated property turns (like hospital-grade cleaning services in the wake of COVID-19).
However, in today's article, we don't want to focus on the normal wear and tear that every rental property incurs: we want to devote some time to handling 'the big stuff' if a 'tornado' books your Sarasota vacation rental! Most property owners know how to address the usual scuffs, scrapes, and signs of life that indicate a well-traveled rental property. It's the big-ticket items that usually cause confusion, concern, and frustration.
Without further ado, let's dive into this topic from the expert perspective of a Sarasota vacation rental manager!
Note: This article is not a substitute for legal counsel. Reach out to a skilled Sarasota attorney or your experts here at Gulf Coast Property Management if you need immediate guidance!
You Should Be Working With a Professional
We're almost certain you've heard this one before, but bear with us: you really should be working with a Sarasota vacation rental management expert. It's important to have this kind of ace in the hole if you find your property is on the wrong end of a careless guest.
Most vacation rental property owners understandably don't live 'on-site.' This means that you don't always have the kind of time to go 'policing' your rentals in-person between and during every guest's stay. However, at Gulf Coast Property Management, that's exactly what we do for you as your vacation rental manager. After every vacationer's visit, we provide a detailed inspection report to our owners, highlighting the exact condition of their property as part of our routine quality control inspections.
Additionally, we provide thorough, detailed, and high-quality cleaning services to ensure your rental property is in the exact condition depicted by listing photos that get guests booking again and again. This has the added effect of setting a baseline for the condition of your property that your guests must adhere to, and gives us something to compare to the post-stay inspection.
On top of all that, we require a mandatory Accidental Rental Damage Insurance (ARDI) fee for each reservation. This ARDI fee covers your property from damages or accidents (subject to exclusions and limitations) that occur during each rental period for up to $1,500. Any damage or uncovered accident under our policy is detailed as the responsibility of the guest. This protects our property owners and ensures that they have peace of mind with each booking from the start.
If you choose not to enjoy these kinds of protections and prefer to manage your rentals on your own, that's still an option—but here are the steps you should be taking without a Sarasota vacation rental management company.
Screen Your Potential Guests
While there is some debate about whether or not you should screen your guests to boost your booking speed and appeal, the entire point of screening is to protect your Sarasota rental property from damage. If you have minimum age requirements for your guests as a standard, then screening your guests to ensure they meet that age requirement will be essential.
Consider the Issue Objectively
How serious is the damage? Does it look like your guests dropped a hurricane on your home, or did a small accident happen to one wall? Regardless of the damage that occurred, stay professional and objective throughout. If it's a relatively cheap and easy fix beyond normal wear and tear, some Sarasota vacation rental owners are willing to let the issue slide for otherwise excellent guests.
Document Every Detail
If you haven't been in the habit of conducting routine property inspections, now is the perfect time to start! Walk your vacation rental before and after each guest, documenting your property visually, and checking for any aspects of your Sarasota vacation rental that may require repairs. This way, if you have to contest significant damages later, you have proof of your property's initial condition.
Finding the Right Sarasota Vacation Rental Manager
If you decide you're ready to work with a vacation management partner, you need to find the right one! Thankfully, our experience has you covered.
We recommend you start your search with our free Guide to Finding the Best Gulf Coast Vacation Rental Management Company. We've included key traits to look for in a partner, and a checklist to help you vet your potential picks. Plus, if you have any additional questions, you can reach out to the experts here at Gulf Coast.