What Every Host Needs at the Top of Their Short-Term Rental Checklist

Understanding and meeting guest expectations makes all the difference between a one-time booking and a loyal returning guest that puts you one step closer to booking direct. The standards today are high as people are searching for more than just a place to rest their heads; they’re looking for a unique, personalized experience that combines the comforts of home with the amenities and standards of a hotel.

Guests anticipate seamless communication, superior cleanliness and local insights. But above all, what guests want the most is the very thing they don’t even realize they need to look for — a safe and secure environment.

Safety, while paramount, is often an overlooked aspect in the short-term rental industry. It is an expectation that is held high by the standards of the hotel industry, but one that doesn’t even exist for vacation rentals. However, the same belief holds true, when a guest walks in they trust that it’s not just a comfortable space but also a safe and secure environment.  

Safety should be the standard that is upheld across the industry rather than in the hands of a guest that has never stepped foot on the property. However, many hosts seem to have items on their short-term rental checklists like what to include in a welcome basket or how many rolls of toilet paper to leave in the bathroom instead of adding safety measures that come with operating a micro-hotel like a short-term rental property.

Family entering an Airbnb home

Understanding Hospitality Law

Hospitality law covers legal matters related to the hospitality industry, which includes hotels, restaurants, bars, spas, and – what many people may not realize – short-term rentals like Airbnb or Vrbo properties. 

At its core, hospitality law is about ensuring that all the transactions, processes, and interactions within this industry are carried out legally and ethically. Safety is a fundamental aspect of hospitality law. It governs how hosts must ensure their properties are safe for guests to use. This could include regulations about: 

  • Fire safety – such as the need for smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in every property 
  • Building regulations – such as maintaining structural integrity and ensuring the property meets accessibility standards 
  • Health and hygiene regulations – such as cleanliness standards to prevent the spread of diseases. 

As a host in the short-term rental market, understanding hospitality law, and specifically the safety aspects of it, are crucial. Not only does it help you offer a safer, more comfortable experience for your guests, but it also protects you from potential legal issues down the line. 

Safety Expectations in Short-Term Rentals 

When guests book a short-term rental, they are essentially placing their trust in the host. They expect that the property will not only be clean and comfortable but also safe and secure. However, safety is probably not even on the guest’s radar – it is something that they assume has been taken care of by the owner or host. 

Common safety expectations include functional locks on all doors and windows, working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and clear exit paths in case of emergencies. In addition, guests may expect the property to be well-maintained to prevent accidents such as slips or falls. For instance, stairways should have handrails, rugs should be secured to prevent slipping, and any potential hazards like low ceilings or step-ups should be clearly marked. 

Furthermore, there are also less obvious safety considerations that hosts should be aware of. These can include providing a first-aid kit, displaying emergency contact numbers, having a fire extinguisher readily available, and ensuring there are no potential fire hazards like faulty wiring or blocked vents. 

Unfortunately, there have been instances where these safety expectations were not met, resulting in negative experiences for guests. For example, a guest might discover halfway through the night that the smoke detector in their room is non-functional; hopefully that discovery is not during an active fire. Or a family with young children might find unsecured cleaning supplies within the kids’ reach, posing a potential poisoning hazard. 

These examples highlight why it’s crucial for hosts to not just meet but exceed these safety expectations. A short-term rental property needs to be prepared for a variety of guests and abilities. By doing so, they can provide a safer, more enjoyable experience for their guests and potentially avoid legal issues down the line. In the next section, we’ll share some tips and best practices on how you can exceed these safety expectations in your short-term rental. 

How to Meet Basic Safety Standards 

As a host, creating a safe environment for your guests isn’t just about meeting the bare minimum requirements. It’s about taking proactive steps to ensure their safety and comfort throughout their stay. 

  • Provide Comprehensive Safety Information: Leave no room for ambiguity. Create a comprehensive guide that includes all safety-related information – from the location of fire extinguishers and first aid kits to emergency exit routes and contact numbers for local emergency services. Make this guide easily accessible to all guests. 
  • Regular Safety Checks: Regularly inspect your property for potential safety issues. This includes testing smoke and CO detectors, checking locks on doors and windows, and looking for any potential hazards that might have been overlooked. 
  • Preparation for All Ages: If you’re open to hosting families, consider every age that you might have at your property. This could include securing furniture to walls to prevent tipping, covering electrical outlets, and storing cleaning supplies out of reach. Don’t forget to consider potential hazards for older adults, such as loose rugs or poorly lit pathways. 
  • Invest in Quality Locks and Security Systems: Consider investing in high-quality locks for all entrances and exits. Additionally, a security system or outdoor cameras can provide an added layer of protection and peace of mind for your guests. 
  • Offer Personal Safety Amenities: Consider providing personal safety amenities like flashlights, a list of local hospitals or clinics, and even a basic first-aid course for guests who may be interested. 
  • Maintain Open Communication: Keep lines of communication open with your guests. Let them know they can reach out to you if they have any concerns or questions about their safety during their stay. 
  • Disclose Security Cameras Usage: Be sure to be upfront with your guests about the presence and location of security cameras at your property. Be mindful of where you place these cameras as people don’t like feeling watched while on vacation and having a camera in the wrong area could result in an invasion of privacy lawsuit. 

By taking these steps, you can not only meet but exceed the safety expectations of your guests. In doing so, you’re not only protecting your guests but also your business by reducing the risk of accidents and potential legal issues. Remember, a safe guest is a happy guest, and a happy guest is more likely to leave positive reviews and return for future stays. 

In addition to ensuring guest safety, hosts need to be aware of their legal responsibilities and potential liabilities. Ignorance of the law is no defense, and failure to comply with safety regulations can result in severe penalties, including fines, imprisonment, or both. 

  • Familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations related to short-term rentals. These can vary widely depending on your location, so it’s essential to do your research. Look into building codes, fire safety regulations, and health department rules that apply to your property. 
  • Invest in insurance. Ensure you have the correct and sufficient coverage for potential accidents or damages that could occur during a guest’s stay. Many standard policies fail to include the protections short-term rentals require, such as commercial liability. While platforms like Airbnb provide a supplemental liability program, these offerings are not actual insurance policies and should not replace your own insurance. 
  • By renting your property, you’re effectively running a business. This means you have a duty to take care of your guests. If a guest gets injured due to your negligence – for instance, if you failed to repair a broken staircase – you could be held liable. 
  • Consider a risk management consultation. Proper Insurance specializes in short-term rental insurance and has a team of Super Agents who are happy to review your current risk management plan and provide tips and solutions and best practices.  

Remember, being proactive about safety isn’t just about providing a great experience for your guests. It’s also about protecting yourself and your property from potential legal issues. By staying informed and taking the necessary precautions, your hosting journey can be successful and less stressful. 

The Importance of Safety in Short-Term Rentals 

The safety of your guests should always be a top priority when you’re hosting short-term rentals. It’s not just about meeting the minimum suggestions but going above and beyond to ensure that your guests feel safe and comfortable during their stay. 

By providing comprehensive safety information, conducting regular safety checks, preparing for every age that will stay at your property, offering personal safety amenities, and maintaining open communication, you can exceed guest expectations and create a memorable experience for them. 

But it’s not just about the guests. As a host, you also need to protect your interests. Familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations, invest in the right insurance, understand your legal responsibilities, and seek legal advice when necessary. By doing so, you can mitigate potential risks and liabilities, ensuring a smooth and successful hosting journey. 

In the end, a safe and secure rental property leads to happier guests, better reviews, repeat business, and peace of mind for you as a host. Safety is an essential aspect of hosting that can set you apart in the competitive short-term rental market. 

Verify Your Insurance 

It’s important to keep in mind that if your insurance provider is not asking questions about the safety measures put in place at your property or asking to see an online listing of your vacation rental, it’s highly likely that there are gaps in your insurance coverage. It’s smart to verify your insurance so that you understand what those gaps may be.

You can also simply contact one of our Super Agents to compare your current policy to the unmatched coverage offered by Proper Insurance. Upgrade your insurance to a Proper policy to completely replace your current Homeowners or Landlord policy. 

Proper Insurance is the nation’s leading short-term vacation rental insurance provider, with the most comprehensive policy on the market. We protect homes in all 50 states with unmatched coverage for your property, revenue, and business liability, customized to include guest-caused theft/damage, liquor liability, amenity liability (bikes, kayaks, hot tub, etc.), bed bugs, squatters, and more.  

Give us a call at 888-631-6680 to receive a free comprehensive coverage comparison or submit a request for a quick 3-minute quote today. 

About the Author

Justin Brodin

Justin Brodin is the Marketing Director at Proper Insurance, where he specializes in short-term rental insurance education. With six years of experience in the STR industry, Justin has developed a deep understanding of the unique needs and challenges short-term rental owners and operators face. He currently resides in Austin, TX, where he enjoys the warm vibes of the city and spends his free time on the water.


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