How to Prevent Guest Damage in Vacation Rentals? Use this Strategy

In the short-term rental industry, damages caused by guests can be one of the biggest challenges for property managers. Guest damage can cost hundreds, even thousands, to fix – you can even face long-term profit loss.

We spoke to Daniel Tocora, Owner, and Rolando Mota, Owner Success Manager​​ from AZ Getaway, who manage 80+ premium properties in Arizona including 6 properties in Mexico, to gather valuable insights about prevention strategies to minimize the cost of guest damage.

Daniel and Rolando explain how to prepare for guest damage and limit the impact on your properties and business. Keep reading!

The most common types of guest damage

While most guests will treat your properties respectfully, there’s always a risk of accidental or deliberate damage. 

Daniel and Rolando have experienced many incidences of property damage, most resulting from guest carelessness. 

Common problems include:

  • Breaking garbage disposal units by throwing in large items
  • Leaks
  • Smoking inside the home
  • Broken doors and furniture
  • Carpet stains

Garbage disposal and smoking inside the house are the two major problems in our rentals,” Daniel told us.

Maintenance issues are also common, and problems with air conditioning units and swimming pools consume a large portion of the Airbnb guest damages budget.

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Why you need a damage prevention strategy

Unfortunately, there’s no way to avoid all guest damage completely. But, with a damage strategy in place, you can solve issues faster, avoid losing revenue, and protect your business. Take a look at the top 10 guest damages in vacation rentals we’ve covered in 2024.

A damage limitation strategy will help you:

  • Reduce expenses — Avoid unexpected expenses that decrease your profitability.
  • Make budget predictable — Instead of being surprised by sudden costs, you can plan your budget more predictably.
  • Improve relations with neighbours and homeowners — Maintain better relationships with your neighbours and gain the trust of more homeowners.

Damage prevention strategies for property managers

During our conversation with Daniel and Rolando, they recommended that property managers take many different measures to limit the risk of damage and reduce costs. 

Here are some things you can do to protect your business:

Screening your guests against the “bad guest list”

Guest screening is one of the best ways to prevent damage from occurring in the first place. Having a screening process greatly reduces your chances of hosting troublesome guests.

We take damage prevention one step further by running a thorough guest pre-screening. It’s a no-sweat way to find red flags and spot bad guests,” explained Daniel.

Daniel Tocora

Screening may also deter guests from causing damage as they know you have all their information on file. 

Creating a manual guest screening process is complicated, as you would need to collect data for every booking and do your own research, for example, by checking their social media profiles.

But, with a tool like Know Your Guest, you can automate the entire process. It collects personal data from your guests and runs background checks against several authoritative databases, including the sex offenders’ register. 

This will give you the opportunity to decline bookings from guests with a problematic history.

Rolando explains that AZ Getaways started using KYG to reduce the risk of parties. 

We started receiving more and more bookings made by guests from the same state as the listing which is a major party red flag. We saved so much money and energy that we would’ve otherwise spent paying fines and making peace with neighbours.

Furnish your rental with quality materials

Making smart choices about how to furnish and equip your homes will help prevent excessive damage.

For example, Daniel and Rolando explain that opting for durable materials will reduce your costs in the long run. 

They recommended choosing leather or synthetic leather sofas rather than fabric and hard flooring instead of carpet.

Personally, I always go for flooring instead of carpets and fake or genuine leather sofas instead of fabric-covered ones.”

Rolando Mota

Personally, I always go for flooring instead of carpets and fake or genuine leather sofas instead of fabric-covered ones,” explained Rolando.

Invest in high-quality appliances and keep up with maintenance to reduce the chances of having to fix or replace them.

React fast

In the event that something goes wrong, it’s crucial to act fast. 

In short-term rentals, time is extremely important. We look at a broken item and decide whether it’s time to buy a new one or call someone to fix it based on how much time we have. 

For example, if it’s a popular amenity like a jacuzzi and guests plan to use it, we’ll make sure to fix it ASAP.”

By fixing problems quickly, you reduce the chance of having to replace the item and avoid disappointing your guests.

Use technology and security tools

Tech solutions and tools can help you increase property security and reduce damage. 

For example

  • Noise alarms can alert you to potential parties or antisocial behaviour so that you can take action quickly.
  • Smart locks may increase property security, with the added benefit of making the check-in process smoother for your guests and allowing them to check in after office hours.
  • Guest screening tools like Know Your Guest capture guest details and run checks automatically.

You can further protect your business using the accidental damage waiver or damage protection plan from Superhog. 

With the damage waiver, you’ll collect a small, non-refundable fee from each guest to waive their liability for small damages. You can use this as an emergency fund to cover the cost of damages when they do occur. Or, you can collect a damage deposit of around $500 which is refunded to the guest if no damages occur.

Superhog also offers a Damage Protection Plan for short-term rental properties, which covers up to $5 million worth of damages caused by verified guests, giving you complete peace of mind that you’ll be able to receive compensation for damage to your property.

AZ Getaway uses Superhog’s damage protection solutions to reduce and cover the cost of damages. “We’re currently using the damage waiver and damage deposit. Before Superhog, we had six smoking occurrences a month. It’s now gone down to one per month.”

Take a holistic approach to protecting your business

Property managers must take a holistic approach to protect their business. 

This includes:

  • Comprehensive guest screening
  • Investing in quality furnishings and appliances
  • Acting fast to solve any problems
  • Use technology to enhance property security

Combining all these tactics will help you safeguard your properties to sustain and grow your business.

Enhancing your security can even help grow your business, as homeowners will trust you to manage their properties safely. Speak to us to see how to protect your business with damage protection cover and comprehensive guest screening!

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