Prepping Your Home for Airbnb: Summer Essentials

Summer is a time of adventure and travel, and for many Airbnb hosts, it’s the peak point of the year to welcome guests to your short-term rental. The comfort and charm you provide at your Airbnb or Vrbo property can leave a lasting impression that leads to glowing reviews and returning guests. 

This guide details the necessities and niceties of preparing your property for Airbnb ahead of the busy summer season.

Two young boys with fishing poles walk towards the ocean water. Airbnb home in the distance.

Conducting a Safety Inspection Ahead of the Summer Season 

With the summer season’s high occupancy rates and increased traffic to the property, it’s important that your home adheres to the safety standards of hospitality law. Short-term rentals are subject to the same requirements as hotels.

Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Alarms: These devices can be lifesavers, literally. Test all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure they’re functioning correctly. Replace batteries as needed and install additional units if any rooms are lacking. Remember, it’s better to overprepare when it comes to safety alerts. 

Emergency Exits and Fire Safety: Ensure all exits are unobstructed. If you have fire extinguishers on the property, check that they’re easily accessible and not expired. Providing guests with a map of emergency exits and instructions on what to do in case of a fire can significantly enhance their safety during their stay.

Property Maintenance: Walk through your property to identify any potential hazards such as loose railings, uneven steps, or cracked pavements. Addressing these issues before the summer rush can prevent slip-and-fall accidents and liability claims

HVAC System Check: First and foremost, confirm that your air conditioning and ventilation systems are in top working condition. A malfunctioning AC not only detracts from guests’ comfort but can also pose health risks during sweltering heat waves. Schedule a professional maintenance check to clean filters, fix leaks, and ensure the system efficiently cools your space to avoid unexpected equipment breakdowns.

Pest Control: Summer can bring an uptick in pests, which can range from a minor nuisance to a major deterrent for guests and even liability concerns for you as the host. Professional pest control services can help keep ants, mosquitoes, and rodents away. However, one pest you can’t fully prepare for is if a guest brings bed bugs or their pet brings fleas to your property. For those instances, you’ll want to make sure you have bed bug and flea coverage in place for extermination and liability protection. 

Safety Supplies: Stocking up on safety supplies, such as restocking your first-aid kit and updating an emergency contact list provides guests with resources in case of minor injuries or unexpected situations. Consider adding a safety card to the front of the fridge that includes the address of your Airbnb and local emergency numbers. 

By inspecting your property and addressing the points above, you will set the stage for a hopefully hazard-free and comfortable stay for your guests.

Updating Your Property Listing to Appeal to Summer Guests 

With your property now passing a quick safety inspection, the next step is to ensure its appeal and readiness for the summer crowd. During the warmer months, tourists have specific expectations, and meeting these can significantly enhance their stay. 

Refreshing Property Photos: Update your Airbnb listing with high-quality images highlighting outdoor areas of your property where guests can enjoy the sunny weather. 

Adjusting Pricing Based on Seasonality: Analyze the market and your competition to adjust your pricing accordingly for peak season. Consider offering weekly or monthly discounts to attract longer stays, which can mean less turnover work for you. However, if you decide to offer stays longer than 30 days, be sure you understand the expanded legal risks and insurance needs that go along with when a guest becomes a tenant.

Enhancing Guest Comfort with Seasonal Amenities: Consider adding amenities like bicycles or providing items like beach towels, coolers, or picnic baskets that guests can use. You’ll want to make sure that any amenities that take your guest off the property, like a bike or kayak, are covered by your insurance with off-premises liability coverage. 

Updating Your Welcome Guide: Tailor your welcome guide for the summer by including information on local summer events, farmers’ markets, the best local ice cream spots, and other outdoor activities. Recommendations for nearby parks, beaches, and hiking trails can encourage guests to explore the area but may put you in trouble if something goes wrong, you’ll want to double-check with your insurance carrier that including this information doesn’t put you in a situation for negligence.

By updating your property for summer, you will not only increase its attractiveness to potential guests but also enhance their overall experience upon arrival.

Short-term rentals often have additional amenities that, while attractive and enjoyable for guests, also introduce new safety and liability considerations for the Airbnb host.

It’s important that if you offer any of the following amenities, you have adequate insurance coverage that protects you from injuries that could occur to guests using them. Even if all of the following steps have been taken, risk will always remain.

Pool 

While this amenity can be a major draw for summer guests, having a pool comes with significant safety and liability responsibilities.

  • Consider adding a secure fence around the pool area to prevent unsupervised access, especially by children.  
  • Display pool rules clearly regarding supervision, diving, swimming at your own risk, and access hours if applicable.  
  • Check and maintain water quality to prevent infections. 
  • Ensure certified life-saving equipment and a first-aid kit are readily accessible.  
  • Conduct regular inspections for slip hazards and maintain non-slip surfaces around the pool. 
  • Provide depth markers along the poolside. 
  • Refrain from providing pool toys and floats, as they can encourage unconfident swimmers to enter the pool, increasing the risk of accidents and liability. 

Waterfront Access 

Properties located by the water hold a unique appeal, especially during the summertime, but require careful consideration of guest safety. 

  • Establish clear guidelines for water access and usage, especially if boats (like kayaks or canoes) are available for guest use. 
  • Provide Coast Guard-approved life jackets in various sizes and emergency throw ropes that are easily accessible on your dock or pier. 
  • Consider installing signage like “swim at your own risk” 
  • Provide a safety brief or guidebook section on waterfront precautions to help guests enjoy the access responsibly. 
  • Avoid water trampolines, slides, and other injury-prone installments.

Pro Tip: If you provide waterfront access at your Airbnb you’ll want to verify that you have off-premises liability coverage included in your insurance policy. Unless you own the lake or pond, you are encouraging guests to enjoy space beyond your property line. While they can still hold you liable for injury, a premises liability policy would be under no obligation to respond and defend you in court. 

Decks  

Outdoor decks and balconies are perfect for guests to enjoy the summer breeze, but they should be kept in safe condition.  

  • Inspect all wooden structures for signs of wear, rot, or damage.  
  • Ensure railings and balusters are secure and meet local building codes for height and spacing to prevent falls.  
  • Repair any issues and applying weather-resistant sealants can extend the life of your deck while ensuring guest safety.  
  • Furnish outdoor spaces with sturdy, comfortable furniture and provide adequate lighting for evening use. 

Kayaks 

Offering kayaks or other watercraft is a fantastic way to allow guests to explore local waterways. 

  • Provide Coast Guard-approved life jackets for guests of all sizes and consider attaching safety whistles.  
  • Make sure kayaks and boats are checked for damage between guest stays 
  • Create a laminated guide that outlines safe paddling practices and what to do in case of capsizing. 
  • Have guests sign a waiver acknowledging the risks and confirming their responsibility for using the equipment safely. 

Pro Tip: If you provide kayaks at your Airbnb for guests to use, you’ll want to verify that you have off-premises liability coverage included in your insurance policy. 

Bicycles 

Bicycles are a great amenity for guests looking to tour the area or enjoy scenic rides.  

  • Before the season starts, perform maintenance checks on all bikes to ensure they are in good working condition—this includes checking brakes, tires, and gears. You’ll want to continue to perform maintenance checks after each guest’s stay. 
  • Provide helmets, locks, and lights or high-visibility gear for guests. 
  • Consider having guests sign a waiver of responsibility. 

Pro Tip: If you offer bicycles as an amenity at your Airbnb, verify that your insurance policy includes off-premises liability coverage. 

Grills 

A grill can be the centerpiece for an unforgettable summer evening at your Airbnb.  

  • Prior to guest arrival, check the grill for cleanliness and proper function, ensuring all gas connections are secure and there are no leaks.  
  • Supply clear instructions for use, including how to safely light the grill and shut it off, along with any cleaning procedures.  
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby, and make sure the grilling area is well-ventilated and at least 10 feet away from flammable materials, including the siding of the house, deck overhangs, or other combustible material. 
  • Inform guests about local regulations regarding grill usage, especially if there are any restrictions during dry seasons to prevent fires. 

Firepits 

Create an inviting atmosphere with a safely maintained firepit, clear of debris and positioned away from flammable materials.  

  • Provide guests with instructions for igniting and extinguishing flames responsibly, along with guidelines on local fire regulations to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. 
  • Ensure a fire extinguisher is readily accessible near the firepit area for quick response in case of emergencies. 

Golf Carts 

Providing golf carts can enhance the convenience and enjoyment of your guests, especially in areas where they are popular for getting around. 

  • Make sure each golf cart is regularly maintained and inspected for safety issues to prevent breakdowns or accidents. 
  • Supply clear instructions on operating the golf carts, including any local regulations and designated areas where they can be driven. 
  • Require guests to sign a liability waiver that covers the use of the golf carts, acknowledging the risks and outlining their responsibilities. 
  • Keep spare keys and ensure that only licensed drivers are allowed to operate the golf carts to maintain safety and accountability. 

Pro Tip: Golf carts aren’t typically covered by your home insurance. You will need to have a separate policy to cover any liability incidents involving the cart. The Proper policy extends liability protection to golf carts as amenities, provided that they are not required to be registered for on-road use by your local authority. 

In Summary: Three Steps When Providing Amenities at Your Airbnb

  1. Secure comprehensive insurance: Before providing any amenities, ensure you have comprehensive short-term rental insurance coverage to protect yourself against increased liability exposure, especially if the provided equipment takes your guests off your property. The Commercial Homeowners policy by Proper Insurance ensures that coverage follows wherever your guests may venture during their stay at your Airbnb while providing unmatched protection for your property, liability, and revenue.
  2. Over-communicate how to use amenities: For all amenities you provide at your short-term rental, over-communicate detailed instructions on how to use the amenity, safety tips, and emergency procedures to your guests. This promotes safe use of the amenities and enhances guests’ confidence in using them during their stay.
  3. Regularly inspect and encourage guest feedback: Routinely check your amenities for issues and encourage guests to report any concerns with the amenities provided so you can address them promptly. This will minimize risks to them and future guests and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.

Upgrade Your Short-Term Rental Insurance Today 

Interested in a policy that protects you and your business? Proper Insurance leads the nation in short-term vacation rental insurance, offering comprehensive coverage tailored to your needs. Protect your property, revenue, and business liability with a policy that includes coverage for guest-caused theft/damage, liquor liability, amenities, and even bed bugs.

Don’t leave your summer success to chance. Contact Proper Insurance today for a comprehensive risk assessment of your property and to explore the robust coverage you need for your unique rental scenario.

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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