There is a large number of vacation rentals in the US, especially in and around some of the most popular tourist destinations like New York, Los Angeles, Miami, etc. Usually, you can find thousand rentals nearby of each of those and it is clear that these both have plenty of ups and downs for their owners.
Some of the more recent vacation home communities that have sprung up in popular areas are managed communities where security is less of a problem. But most vacation home rentals are in normal residential communities lacking both security and property management. The vacation rentals in these neighborhoods are subject to the most serious security issues.
How big is the security problem for property owners? Vivint recently surveyed 406 vacation homeowners and 602 guests. Among other things, they discovered that 40% of the owners have reported damage to their rental properties. In addition, 23% of them believe the damage was intentional. In terms of cost, the average is $553 per incident.
Guests Don’t Respect Rental Properties
Additional research suggests that rental property owners in many popular tourist areas have a common theme among them: by and large, they believe guests don’t respect rental properties. Their reasoning makes sense.
Residential landlords have long reported that tenants do not respect their properties because they don’t own the units that they live in. It is not until one owns his own home that he starts treating his living space with more care and respect. The same should hold for vacation rentals.
Families Are More Desirable
Various surveys also revealed that families are more desirable than groups of individuals. Again, it makes sense. Families are more likely to take better care of property and less likely to be there solely for the purpose of partying. When groups of individuals rent vacation homes, partying is usually high on the priority list.
The harder guests party, the more likely they are to do damage. Even worse, it is harder to find out who did what because no one wants to admit to breaking something. The harsh reality of renting to groups has led some vacation property owners to seek out families over groups. For many landlords this is imperative, but there are also many that do not have a choice and need to rent their properties to those who are willing.
Property Owners Taking Security Measures
It is unfortunate, but vacation home owners now feel like they need to take extra security measures to protect their investments. State and federal laws dictate the extent to which property owners can go. For example, security cameras are not allowed in areas where guests have a reasonable expectation of privacy – like in bathrooms, for example.
Federal and state laws notwithstanding, here are some of the security measures professionals say property owners are taking, along with the percentage of owners who responded affirmatively in the survey:
- Alarm systems – 54%
- Routine property inspections – 46%
- Smart locks – 44%
- Motion-activated lighting – 44%
- Interior security cameras – 22%
- Security provided by management companies – 17%
- Neighborhood watch or similar initiatives – 11%.
A surprising 36% of the property owners surveyed say they have considered deploying advanced security measures to prevent destructive behavior. It is not clear what those measures might be. It is clear that property owners are concerned about specific types of behavior:
- Vandalism – 53%
- Property damage – 50%
- Theft – 47%
- Unauthorized guests – 44%
- Noise complaints – 37%.
Other unwanted behaviors cover everything from disturbing the neighbors to illegal drug and alcohol use. These are all things that need to be considered prior to opening a vacation property to rentals. Keep this in mind if you are planning to invest your hard earned money into this business. You definitely do not want your source of income to be vandalized and for it’s price to drop in the future if you do decide to sell it. Additionally, after one group leaves and the new tenants are coming, you will be either forced to make all those repairs out of your pocket or lower the rent.
A Good Management Company Goes a Long Way
There is nosingle strategy for making a vacation home completely safe and secure. But if there’s one thing every property owner should do prior to opening a home for rental: contract with a good management company. A management company can look after things, conduct routine inspections, and address damage before it becomes a major issue.
Management companies obviously don’t work for free. That being the case, hiring a company means either raising rents to cover the cost or accepting a lower margin. Either way, the investment is well worth it.
So many property owners run into trouble because they don’t live anywhere near their vacation homes. They do not know what goes on from one rental week to the next – at least until neighbors start calling with complaints. But by then it’s too late and the amount of money you will need to spend on repairs might be considerable chunk of your profit or even worse, you might need to give additional money out of your pocket.
A Risk That Shouldn’t Be Ignored
Owning a vacation home is a dream come true for a lot of people. Being able to rent it out for most of the year adds to the dream by letting the property pay for itself. But whenever you are talking vacation rentals, you’re also talking security risks. Rental properties are damaged by guests. They are sometimes host to rowdy and illegal behavior.
Security risks should not be ignored. They should be carefully considered before, during, and after renting. And when security problems arise, they need to be dealt with right away.