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Vacation Rental Insurance: Are you Covered?

.Vacation Rental Insurance: Are you Covered? from MaidThis.com

Whether you’re renting a property as a serious source of income or just as a side hustle, it’s important that you have the right insurance policy to cover any damages that might occur. As running a vacation rental is a business activity, your usual homeowner’s policy or landlord’s policy won’t be valid for the times you rent your property out for short-term stays.

Luckily, many insurance policies are specifically designed for short-term rental properties these days and most providers will allow you to easily add a short-term rental policy to your usual home insurance plan. 

Here’s what you need to know about vacation rental insurance. 

 

What should your vacation rental insurance cover? 

What’s the difference between vacation rental insurance and homeowner’s insurance? The answer is the degree of coverage as well as what areas are covered. 

There are three main categories you should look at when determining what coverage you’ll need for your rental property: 

 

  • Liability: Without liability insurance, your guests could potentially sue you for any injuries or accidents that happen on your property. This is true even if it doesn’t seem like you’re at fault. General liability insurance protects you and your assets in the event of an unforeseen disaster resulting in injury. 
  • Property Damage: For serious property damage caused by renters or natural disasters, many hosts would be out of luck without property damage insurance. Make sure that the insurance policy you choose covers your entire property, including decks, sheds, and other structures that might be set further away from the house. 
  • Loss of Income: Your property is considered a business expense, so if damages prevent you from renting it out, you’ll need insurance to cover the loss of income. You may be able to be compensated for the time that you miss out on renting due to repairs as well as the repairs themselves. 

 

With a comprehensive insurance package, you won’t have to worry about things going awry when you rent out your property. It’s almost always worth the investment if you’re serious about vacation rental hosting. It’s much cheaper to pay for insurance than it would be to pay for damages or lawsuits that might occur without it. 

 

Vacation Rental Insurance Providers

It’s easy to find a trusted name when it comes to vacation rental insurance. Many of the big-name insurance providers now offer homeshare or short-term rental insurance policies. Here are a few to consider: 

 

The insurance provider you choose will depend on your individual rates as well as what feels best for you. It’s a good idea to shop around and see how the policies differ before committing to one. Don’t just go with what’s familiar; the insurance provider you’ve used for auto insurance in the past might not necessarily be the best choice for your vacation rental insurance. 

 

Overall, an airtight vacation rental insurance policy will save you a lot of time and hassle if something goes wrong during a guest’s stay. You can rest easy knowing that your property is covered, no matter what life (or a guest) throws at you. 

 

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At first I tried to take care of all of the cleaning process myself, and it turned out to be a bigger headache than anything else. So a friend told me about MaidThis and its been fantastic. I’ve been working with my cleaners for a few months so far. I recommend you check out the service for yourself.
Brent
Airbnb Host in LA
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I definitely think that as a company we've been able to make more money, not only because we're saving money by using Maid This, but also because they're helping take a few of the necessary evils with doing vacation rentals off of the property managers plate.
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Airbnb Host in LA
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How One Airbnb Host Grew Her Business to 9 Airbnb Properties

davida horn airbnb host interview

Recently, we at MaidThis! cleaning had a wonderful opportunity to chat with and interview Davida Horn, an LA-based Airbnb and vacation rental host. Davida manages a whopping 9 properties throughout the Los Angeles area and has tons of wisdom to offer other hosts and hosts-to-be. (If you’re a new host, she’s got some great advice!)

Check out our interview with Davida and learn more about the systems she uses to keep herself organized and sane, what systems she uses to communicate with her guests, and her “hands-off” method for earning dozens of 5-star reviews.

 

 

 

 

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MaidThis!: It’s so nice to chat with you, Davida! Thank you for taking the time to talk with us.

Davida Horn: It’s nice to talk with you, too. Thank you for the invitation.

MT: Of course! Well, to start us off, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your business?

DH: Well, I have two businesses. My main business is that I’m a bookkeeper: I pay people’s bills for a living. It just happens that several of my clients have other properties and as Airbnb and VRBO became popular, they decided to rent them as vacation rentals instead of just “regular” rentals. Through our years of working together, they asked me to manage them.

I don’t actually own any of the properties that I manage – I’m what Airbnb calls a “co-host.” Airbnb has a special system, though it’s changing, for co-hosts that allows the co-host to see everything that the host sees. VRBO does not have the same setup at all.

But I’ve been managing rentals for 5 years.

MT: Okay, interesting. So, how many rentals do you manage?

DH: Currently, I’m managing 9.

MT: Nine! Wow, that’s a lot!

DH: It is a lot!

Staying Organized

MT: Because that’s a lot, how do you typically try to keep things organized? What kind of systems do you use to help you manage so many properties?

DH: I’ll just be honest: It’s challenging! In several of my listings, I have different situations – they’re not all the same. One is owner-occupied and is rented a couple of months out of the year when she goes away. Another one is two bedrooms in a house, so the owner lives there and we kind of co-work together.

For the ones that are regular, full-time, 100% vacation rentals, it’s just become my job. I do less bookkeeping and I do Airbnb management. Every day, I check each calendar and when there’s a booking, I schedule the cleaning – everyone has a different cleaning situation. I have to communicate with [the cleaners and sometimes the owners] and set up a schedule for the month.

I mean, it really varies. I do use a service called HomeOn to help me keep things a little more organized. Obviously, one of the benefits to HomeOn is that it’s linked to the Airbnb calendar, and it instantly creates a cleaning schedule which takes a ton of work and pressure and thinking out of managing things.

There’s no brilliant system that I’ve discovered other than paying attention every day to every one – you know, going in every day and looking at the calendar and the bookings for each one.

MT: Gotcha. About how long do you think you spend every day doing that?

DH: I would say it absolutely varies between 5-10 minutes to a couple of hours because sometimes, you know, a guest has an issue and that’s what can be time-consuming.

MT: That makes complete sense. So, it can take quite a bit of time. Are any of your properties also listed on multiple vacation rental sites?

DH: Yes, 4 of them are listed on both Airbnb and VRBO.

MT: Got it. So how do you reconcile that? Have you ever had an issue with a double-booking coming in – one from both sites?

DH: So, Airbnb and VRBO do have linking calendars so that once a booking happens on Airbnb, it updates pretty quickly on VRBO. I can’t say it’s 100% foolproof, but I, personally, have never had any issues. I’ve heard of other people having issues but it’s very rare.

MT: That must be a relief! A little less for you to worry about.

DH: It’s a pretty good system.

MT: How often do you visit your properties?

DH: I try to go every couple of weeks but, the better the cleaner, the less I have to go. That’s a big deal to me, is to have people that I can rely on so that I don’t have to go since they’re already there. I don’t want to have to go. Since they show up, one to two to three times a week. Ideally, like twice a month but sometimes, more often.

Working with Guests

MT: And how often do you end up communicating with guests?

DH: I send them an automated welcome message 3 to 5 days before arrival. A lot of times when they arrive, I won’t even hear from them. It’s self-check-in so a lot of times, I’ll either check-in with them later that day or in the morning and just make sure everything went smoothly.

And then I tend to leave them alone mostly and maybe check in every 3-ish days, depending on how long the booking is. The booking can be anywhere from 3 days on. So, usually, if the guest has an issue, they’ll usually contact you. They welcome a “Hey, how’s everything going?” once in a while, but they don’t want to hear from you every day just like when I’m on vacation – I don’t want to hear someone – you know, it’s nice to say “How are you doing?” but I don’t need them to do that every other day.

I’d say every few days and if they’re there for a couple weeks, you know, I’ll go for a week without reaching out to them unless there’s something we need to talk about.

MT: Do you typically only communicate with guests through the listing portal or do you have an external email system or something else that you use?

DH: They tend to text me privately. I leave them my phone number so they can reach me directly. But yes, I do use the Airbnb and VRBO apps a lot. I love the Airbnb app – everything happens on my phone, text messages, everything happens on my phone. It’s one of the perks for working with Airbnb, that you can work from anywhere.

MT: Your guests have left a lot of great feedback. What have you found to be the best way to get guests to leave reviews for you? Where are they leaving said reviews?

DH: You know, that’s interesting you ask that! That’s been a recent topic of discussion in one of the Facebook support groups I’m in – about leaving reviews. I was asking people, “What’s your system for asking people to leave reviews?” because I don’t have one – I don’t ever ask anybody to leave a review. I don’t know. It’s weird – if I was checking out and somebody said, “Don’t forget to leave me a 5-star review!”, for some reason that would just irritate me or rub me wrong. I don’t know.

So, I have not. A lot of people do find an eloquent way to ask. Airbnb frowns upon anything that’s under 5 stars, so it’s actually imperative for [hosts] to get 5 stars, but I just focus on having the space be as nice and clean and perfectly matching the representation as it is online.

You can’t please everybody, but I try. I’m an instant responder, so if anybody ever messages me, they’re getting a message back within minutes. So I try to just be really available and have the space be stocked and clean.

You know, I have some properties that are a block from the beach, so that just helps – having a good space and a good location. It’s not downtown LA, and in the middle of Skid Row. So, you know, it helps.

But still, there’s always somebody that doesn’t like one thing… It just happens.

Anyways, to answer your question, I don’t specifically ask for reviews. I just leave it to, you know, what it is. (Laughs)

Words of Hosting Wisdom

MT: Sure! That’s really interesting. So, what advice would you give to struggling hosts or hosts just getting started?

DH: Oh, goodness! Well, one of the things I’ve found most useful is playing with the prices – weekly. You know, the weekends are usually booked, depending on the location and usually, there’s the stragglers in the middle of the week that are left empty.

If it’s empty within a week of the current date, I’ll drop the prices because some money is better than no money! And if you drop them low enough, you can usually always get a booking. So, it just really depends on what your situation is.

But, you know, if your normal rate is $150 a night, it’s better to get $99 or $89 than nothing. So, be willing to play with those prices in the middle of the week on the current, upcoming week or two.

I’d say beware of the travelers who have not been verified… if they don’t have previous reviews. Although they can be outstanding, they’re also the most likely to be difficult and scam you because you cannot see reviews from prior hosts stating whether they were great or not. So, that is a very tricky area because it can be totally fine or it can be totally disastrous.

I’m learning from my newest account that sometimes, there are people out there that are scamming new hosts! They’re people with accounts that don’t have reviews. Maybe they’ve set up an account through a friend or something like that and there are no reviews. So they’ll go in there and start complaining about things to try and get a free stay… And they tend to look for new, inexperienced hosts that don’t have a lot of business. So, I think that is a thing – I’m not 100% sure but that seems to be the consensus.

And outside of that, expect that there’s no “off” switch. To be available at all times. You need to be a very fast responder to inquiries and other things. If you don’t respond fast enough, they will go somewhere else because there’s a ton of competition, the market’s saturated – it’s different than it was a year or two ago where you were kind of the only one doing it.

Now, in the winter, it really slows down or it can really slow down and you might have to lower your prices more than you would have in the past because there’s so much competition.

MT: Right. So, when you start to look at lowering your prices – whether it be for a seasonal change or whether it be, like you said, you have some openings the following week – what do you typically do for that? Do you set at a certain percentage point or do you guess?…

DH: I just make a guess based on past experience. My experience is that my 1-bedroom at the beach that, in the summer, easily goes for $165, I will have a hard time getting even $125 in the winter. It seems that not until I drop it down to between $99 to $95 to $89 can I for sure get booked. It’s just what I’ve experienced.

So, I just start high and gradually go low until I get a booking so that I don’t get nothing for that day. I just keep testing.

MT: Do you ever look at similar properties in the same area to see what they’re doing?

DH: You know what, I don’t. I just try to get a booking. It almost doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing if mine is still empty.

Balancing Guests for Full-Time Live-In Hosts

MT: So, you said earlier that you have one property where the host lives full-time in the house and rents out two rooms. Is that also on the beach or in the city?

DH: No, actually, it’s in the inner city in a very ethnically diverse neighborhood above downtown LA. I’d say that although his house is very nice on the top of a hilltop, it’s not a high-end neighborhood by any means.

He still booked a lot. It’s a lower rate, but it’s full and it makes him great money at a nightly rate. He basically works during the day and he doesn’t have time to respond to inquiries. I book the cleaner and respond to things.

MT: Does he have any specific house rules that guests are expected to follow in the kitchen or anything like that?

DH: You know, he’s very easygoing. There’s only one shower even though there’s two bathrooms and he just states in his listing that he uses it before work from 7-8 on weekdays. So, it’s just understood that it’s going to be off-limits for an hour 5 days a week. Never had any issues – he’s a very social guy.

He has about 70 reviews in a year. The reason I decided to take his property on (because it’s not necessarily what I would normally do) was because his reviews were so great! Everybody was like, “This guy is the greatest guy!” “He’s so nice” “He’s so friendly!” And I was like, “Okay, sure! I’ll help you out and respond to a few emails.” And he’s been awesome.

MT: So, in LA, there’s a lot more potential hosts out there like your client – that could afford to rent out a room in their apartment or their house than there are hosts who can afford to purchase a whole other property.

DH: I think you really have to be the kind of person that’s into that. You really have to be a social person that’s comfortable with the ins and outs of people’s different ways. You’re not just getting used to one roommate, you’re getting used to a lot of coming and going.

I just think it’s not for everybody and it obviously really depends on the space.

The other thing to consider, though, is that it’s usually going to be at a lower price point than if you were renting out the entire space. Therefore, you’re going to be charging a lower cleaning fee. A lot of people that are renting in their own home are doing the cleaning themselves, and that’s fine, but it’s also a lot of work.

So, if you want to outsource it, it can be a process to find something that will work. We went through a bit of a process to find somebody on Craigslist that would be so local, that would be willing to just come for an hour to an hour and a half, here and there, for under $40…

So, that’s the biggest consideration. If they’re willing to clean themselves or if they have someone who can help them at a price point that’s worth it to the person and that they’ll be consistent and reliable – which is the most difficult part of the business! Finding a good cleaner that presents well, that will show up on time every time and have it done. That is the biggest challenge.

Thoughts for New Hosts and Managers

MT: Do you have any specific advice for people interested in becoming property managers like yourself or just getting started with hosting their own places?

DH: I don’t have fabulous words of wisdom, to be honest, because it is harder now than it’s ever been. Again, the market’s saturated. So for me, as a co-host, it’s been harder to find properties to take on – it’s been months in the making just to get one. There are so many people doing what I’m doing and there are so many companies popping up and doing what I’m doing, that it’s no longer just people. So, now you’re competing with companies…

As far as getting started yourself, that’s the best bet: That’s the best thing you can do is to have a profile, have professional photography done (it makes all the difference in the world), and have a desirable space and a desireable location. Period. That’s all I can say.

And then you’re just going to be competing with everybody else in terms of your amenities, your decor, and your location.

MT: Do you have any final advice for hosts or maybe a good story you can share with us?

DH: Let’s see… A good story. (Laughs) Well, trust your gut.

When people are pushy before they – just do a little investigation into people. My worst story is that somebody contacted me and wanted to arrive same-day. We hadn’t scheduled cleaner because we weren’t expecting same-day guests and I said, “Hey, it’s not clean,” and they said, “No worries, we’ll clean it.”

And they were pushy and I went against my better judgment. I even googled their email and there were some unfavorable things that came up but I didn’t want to be discriminatory… Two days later, my client called me and was like, “Why is the SWAT team at the house and the whole block is shut down?!”

So, if they’re a little bit pushy or too aggressive or too eager to get in or willing to take it without it being cleaned or don’t have any reviews… don’t take the chance because it’s not worth it.

I will say this: In 5 years, that’s my worst story and I have 3 other maybe “bad” stories that just amount to difficult guests, just difficult people. But I’ve heard all sorts of horror stories and in 5 years, with multiple properties, I’ve had almost none. It’s been really great most of the time. It’s very lucrative and that’s why everybody’s doing it now. It’s just a great business.

I mean, there’s some really great guests! I had one girl that had never used Airbnb before and she was so nervous and asking me a million questions. I had to prompt her to get her ID verified and put a photo up. And I was a little concerned – like, “Who is this girl?” She was asking a lot of questions – she was asking if there were security cameras inside which made me go, “Well, why are you asking that?” She was so nervous. But long story short is this girl left a $50 tip. I’ve never had anybody leave a tip in 5 years. Her nightly rate was only like $75 a night, it wasn’t a high-end place, it was just a decent space and she left a $50 tip. It was just really nice – people don’t do that. So that’s one of my best stories.

 

It was a pleasure speaking with and interviewing Davida! She has some great nuggets of advice for other hosts and managers. No matter where you are in your hosting journey, it’s always helpful to hear from others in your shoes.

 

Ready for your next turnover cleaning? Schedule for your check-outs now!

 

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Getting Over First-Time Jitters: Things to Know for Your First Vacation Rental Hosting Experience

first-time host

It’s completely understandable if you’re nervous about renting your home to holiday-makers for the very first time. Sites like Airbnb are quick and easy to use and can generate very welcome passive income. However, the downside to such benefits is that your home will be subject to the scrutiny of strangers. When preparing for your first hosting experience, you may feel you’re not ready for that level of judgment.

Luckily, there are a few simple steps you can take to help calm your nerves.

Here’s a quick checklist of ways to add some finishing touches to your property before your first guests arrive. By putting in the groundwork, your experience will be so overwhelmingly positive, you’ll be keen to repeat it.

1. Think like a concierge.

Renting your house to vacationers is a great way to make some extra cash and perhaps, even meet some interesting people. That being said, it’s a smart idea to treat the transaction like a business deal. By seeing your guests’ stay for what it is in its simplest form, you’ll feel more prepared.

Take it one step further and think about what sets you apart from other accommodation and vacation rentals in your area. What is your unique selling proposition? If you were running a hotel, how would you want to improve your guests’ experience? Customize what makes your home and surrounding area special.

For example, it might be a nice idea to create a local “guide.” Include some suggestions of places to go, restaurants to visit, or other “gems” your neighborhood has to offer.

Also, try to see things from your guests’ perspective. With a few thoughtful touches, you can significantly improve how your visitors feel about their stay. You might even want to leave a token gift, like a chocolate on the pillows or a nice bottle of wine.

2. Be upfront and personal – in an informative way.

Clear communication is vital and will ensure that you’re completely organized. Have you discussed how your guests should collect and return your key? Will they be welcome to any food in the refrigerator? Set clear expectations and never assume that things will take care of themselves due to common sense. Make sure you mention all the idiosyncrasies of your home and any specific rules (but try not to be overbearing).

It’s crucial to talk to your guests beforehand and upon their arrival. They’ll have a clearer picture of what to expect, plus it will also help to prevent any uncertainty.

3. Ask for reviews and be ready to accept some suggestions.

Don’t forget: your guests chose your property. There were plenty of other options available, but you won! Don’t look around your home and feel you aren’t worthy. You took the time to create the listing – writing the description and taking the photos – and it attracted vacationers. Ask your guests to leave positive reviews for you if they were happy during their time in your home.

If your guests were unhappy with anything during their stay, that’s okay. See it as a chance to improve for next time. Be sure to ask what you could have done differently to improve their experience. For some ideas to stay ahead of the game, check out these 5 ways to enhance vacation rental reviews and see how you can avoid apologies before they’re even needed.

4. Call in help if you need it.

One thing that is guaranteed to affect how your guests rate and review your home is the cleanliness of the space. Preparing your property to guest-ready standards can be very time-consuming, not to mention costly, once you invest in all the cleaning supplies. Don’t fret over the details. There is quality, affordable help available.

Contact us today to set the wheels in motion and ensure that every surface is sparkling when your guests arrive. You only get one chance to make a first impression and at MaidThis!, we’re experts at setting the right tone for your vacation rental.

If you want to prepare for every scenario, we can help. We’re available to get your home ready before your guests arrive and can also arrange a post-visit tidy up.

Additionally, our staff are trained to look for any signs of damage after your guests have checked out. We will also let you know when you’re running low on key supplies. We pride ourselves on going above and beyond to make the whole process as easy as possible.

5. Be sure to leave feedback about your guests for future hosts.

The great unknown that’s probably making you anxious is the imminent review of your home or rental property. Take a few deep breaths and remember that you have the chance to review your guests, too.

In the same way you want your guests to leave positive reviews about their stay with you, they will likely want you to leave a positive review about their time in your space. Give them the benefit of the doubt if there is anything that doesn’t go quite according to plan, but be honest in your review if your ground rules weren’t followed or were completely ignored.

6. Don’t forget to relax!

Remember, your guests want to like you. They are more than likely visiting town to have a wonderful time. So, instead of expecting the worst, try to anticipate the best-case scenario.

Try this exercise to get your mind in the right place. After a few deep breaths, take in the things about your home that you enjoy. What activities make you feel most comfortable when you’re hanging around your apartment or house? What are your favorite go-to snacks or drinks?

Make an effort to highlight those things in some way. You might leave tea or coffee displayed on your kitchen counter or a list of suggestions to help your guests choose some quiet pastimes while staying with you. They might need to relax and unwind, too; and small, inviting gestures like these make a significant difference when welcoming new people into your space.

 

You’ll have a lot on your mind before your very first vacation rental hosting experience, but you can very easily mitigate some of that stress. By planning ahead, you’ll be ready for your next guests before you know it.

Clean my
Vacation Rental


single-blog-sidebar-vacation-rental
  • Automated Scheduling
  • Cleaning Report with Pictures
  • Never a No-Show. Guaranteed.
Book Now

Testimonials

At first I tried to take care of all of the cleaning process myself, and it turned out to be a bigger headache than anything else. So a friend told me about MaidThis and its been fantastic. I’ve been working with my cleaners for a few months so far. I recommend you check out the service for yourself.
Brent
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

I definitely think that as a company we've been able to make more money, not only because we're saving money by using Maid This, but also because they're helping take a few of the necessary evils with doing vacation rentals off of the property managers plate.
Laura G
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved