Guests often choose short-term rentals for the experience of living like a local in a home-like atmosphere. But we can’t forget that they’re temporarily living amongst locals, too – our neighbors – so it’s important that our guests are good neighbors who enhance the quality of the community.
This community-first approach also makes business sense. Neighbor complaints can draw unwanted attention from police and city officials and become a driving force for limits or bans on short-term rentals.
Thankfully, hosts can easily protect their community and their ability to rent by being proactive in addressing common problems before they occur and communicating with neighbors about their plans. The following strategies are among the most effective for building trust and rapport with neighbors and managing common issues associated with short-term rentals.
1. Inform neighbors about your short-term rental
It’s best for your neighbors to hear about your plans from you. Doing so demonstrates that you respect them and care about their peace of mind. Before you welcome guests, inform your neighbors about your plans and leave nothing to surprise. Your neighbors will likely appreciate your honesty and interest in how your plans may affect them. You could even hold a happy hour to make your announcement to neighbors.
Give your neighbors a phone number they can call to report to you any problems that might occur, such as excessive noise. If a neighbor complains, take care of the problem immediately and let them know you have done so.
2. Be available when short-term renters are in your home
If you can't be available for each rental make sure there is a property manager or some you trust that is available.
3. Extend your hospitality to neighbors
Neighbors can be your short-term rental’s best allies. Invite them over or offer your property up to them when they need extra space for family or friends. By showing them hospitality, you are empowering a neighbor to see your short-term rental as an asset to them and the neighborhood.
4. Create win-wins
You can help nurture positive relations with your community by creating win-win situations. For example, if your neighbor doesn’t have a lawn-cutting service, consider offering to have your landscaping team care for their yard as well. Not only have you done a favor for your neighbor but your guests will be impressed by the appearance of both lawns.
5. Prevent complaints before they happen
Managing nuisances before neighbors make complaints is crucial to demonstrating your commitment to maintaining the quality and serenity of the neighborhood. Put nuisance prevention and management plans in place for each of the most common problems: noise, parking, and trash. Ideally, develop these plans before accepting guests and share them with your neighbors. Showing specifics on how you plan to deal with issues is a great way to give neighbors peace of mind and instill trust that you are being proactive to prevent problems.
Noise prevention plan
The vast majority of neighbor nuisance complaints are about noise – about 75%. A successful noise management plan should include communicating quiet hours, noise ordinances, and consequences for violations and detailed protocols for how to deal with excess noise.
If the host is off-site, there should be a noise monitoring system on the premises to alert the host when noise reaches a concerning level. Check out the NoiseAware Software!
Parking management plan
In the Finger Lakes parking can be a tight squeeze for many properties. Make sure that your property has enough parking for your rentals full occupancy threshold. When creating a plan clearly mark outside where guests can park and communicate clearly with your renters if there is enough room for boat trailers. If there is overflow, identify alternate locations where guests can park their cars, contact information, and rates, if applicable.
Communicate clearly that guests should not take an inordinate amount of street parking or block driveways, mailboxes, alleys, or trash cans. Doorbell cameras and street-facing security cameras can help you enforce parking rules.
Trash management plan
A plan for managing trash should identify trash and recycling receptacle locations, pickup times and locations, other rules, and any city penalties for improper disposal.
To be adequately prepared, there needs to be a backup plan in place for when guests fail to follow trash disposal protocols or when the amount of trash exceeds city limits for pickup. That could be hiring a third party or asking a friend or family member to properly dispose of trash or take excess waste to the dump.
Communicate good neighbor expectations with guests more than once
Each of these plans should include effective communication of expectations for guests and consequences for violations. Communicate these specific expectations in at least two of the following ways: property description, house rules, rental agreement, pre-arrival messaging, guestbook, in-house signage, in-person check-in, or welcome phone calls.
In addition, hosts should provide a guideline sheet for guests that combines all of the key information from the noise, parking, and trash management plans in an easy-to-digest format.
To find these tips as well as templates for developing management plans for noise, parking, and trash, and a guest guideline sheet, download the Finger Lakes Vacation Rental Alliance Good Neighbor Guide.
Written by Emily Barber, Marketing and Sales Coordinator at Finger Lakes Premier Properties.