Howdy, to all you happy hosts and rental rock stars! I hope your October was full of bookings and 5-star reviews. This month was a turbulent one for the Short Term Rental world as policy and law changes abound across the country. I hope everyone is planning on voting because the people you are voting for will be the ones making the STR regulations you will have to follow. So, get out there and let them know what you think with your vote! Now, let's get into October's Rent Host Wrap-Up:
The Laws: They are a Changin'
The legal side of the Short Term Rental business is rapidly changing. Every month, I am hearing about some new law, restriction, or regulation coming into place:
- In Las Vegas, the planning commision passed a banning regulation (which still needs to be approved by City Council.)
- San Diego is considering a new set of regulations.
- DC is looking at banning short-term rentals of second homes.
As hosts, I think we need to do two key things regarding the changing laws. First, make sure to contact your local representatives and tell them your thoughts and experiences. Having done so myself, I think you will be shocked to learn how little your lawmakers actually know about short-term rentals and how they operate. You may even need to educate them (without being condescending, of course). Second, you need to do everything in your power to follow existing regulations. Yes, many of them suck and are a pain but if hosts don't follow the current rules then outright bans will follow.
Listing SpotlightIn honor of Halloween, let's take a look at a haunted Airbnb! The Weld Street Inn is a spooky house built in 1881 which rents out three rooms and runs a bakery out of the kitchen. Scares and sweets? I am sooo in. The ghost stories center around two people, Faith and David. To get the full story, check out this write-up about what it's like to stay at the rental. And, of course, if you want to stay at the Weld Street Inn yourself, check out their website for all the details.
Airbnb Photo Policy Change
For better or worse, Airbnb is always tinkering with their policies so keeping up to date on every little change is mandatory. And this new change is one you are going to want to know about. Hosts will no longer be able to see guest photos until a booking has been confirmed. Seems odd, I know. And, in all honesty, my knee-jerk reaction was that this was a terrible change and would cause safety concerns for home share hosts. But, after doing some reading up on it and understanding the bigger picture, it seems like a reasonable change. Airbnb has had major issues with racist hosts not letting non-white guests book with them. This photo change is one step they are making to try and curb the issue (we will see if it actually helps). After thinking about it more, the fact that you still get a picture after the guest books will let home share hosts confirm that the person that booked is the person in their home which will address the safety concerns. If you are interested in a detailed breakdown about this change, check out this write-up. And, here is a quick breakdown of the new policy:
If a guest chooses to provide a profile photo, that profile photo won’t be displayed to the host as part of the booking process until after the booking is confirmed.
Airbnb will give hosts the option to ask guests to provide a profile photo prior to booking, which will only be made visible after the host accepts the booking request.
As a fairness safeguard, hosts must proactively turn on their request for a photo before receiving a reservation request, even though they won’t see the photo until the process is completed.
If a host asks for a profile photo, Airbnb will prompt guests to upload one to their Airbnb profile before they can request to book that host’s particular listing and the photo will not be presented to the host until after the booking is confirmed.
If a host cancels a reservation after viewing a guest’s photo, the guest will have an easier way to complain to Airbnb, and hosts violating the policy may be permanently banned from using the site.
Hosting Tip: Washcloths for Cosmetics
The never-ending cycle of replacing destroyed towels is an annoying but inevitable part of hosting. There really is no way around it. Guests wear makeup, use acne cream, and a ton of other potions and lotions that will damage your towels. So, if you cannot stop it, the best you can hope for is to minimize the damage. That is why we have found providing a black washcloth labelled "Cosmetics" or "Makeup" goes a long way towards minimizing the damage. It keeps all the makeup stains on a single washcloth which is cheap to replace. And it hides the stains better than your white towels. A single embroidered washcloth for each guest won't stop the problem completely but it will go a long way towards containing it.
Poll Question of the Month
Hosts rarely get to see how other hosts do things which makes it hard to learn. That's why, every month, we are going to ask a poll question about how you host and then we will put the results in next month's newsletter. Hopefully, we can all learn from each other and upgrade our hosting skills.
This month, we got a simple question that might provoke quite a bit of debate: