For landlords of long-term residential units, the background check is a familiar tool of the trade. They’re considered standard protocol and are typically accepted as a safety precaution against fraud, problem tenants, poor credit, and other information that might inform the decision about whether or not to rent to specific people. When your livelihood is tied up in your rental property, it’s a completely logical and legal way to protect your investment.
However, if you’ve decided to dip your toe into the pool of vacation rentals, it’s a little bit of a different story. Background checks are typically not used for short-term vacation rentals due to both the expense and the fact that guests might be turned off if they’re asked for excessive amounts of personal information to stay in a condo for a weekend. Still, it’s likely that you’ll want to know a little bit about your potential renters before allowing them into your property. What’s the solution?
Generally speaking, there are a number of things that you can and should ask for when booking someone for your vacation rental space. You can ask for copies of driver’s licenses, phone numbers, and a credit card number for billing. If you’re using a third-party site to rent out your space, they may also have general information gathering services in place. You are welcome to set rules, ask for a security deposit, and dictate whether or not pets and children are allowed, and if so, what type and how many. Check-in and check-out dates with defined “in and out” times are also acceptable, especially if you have housekeeping or other cleanup services that come through between guests.
How else can you protect your rental investment from potentially poor tenants? Consider speaking with them on the phone or exchanging emails before their stay. Familiarize yourself with tactics used by potential scammers, such as questionable emails with odd phrasing that just feel “off” to you, or strange requests for money transfer. If you want to get very “private eye,” you might also check up on their social media sites, if available.
If you do want to consider more in-depth checks for longer stays, contact a professional service for advice or additional help. We’re always available, and we have plenty of experience with background checks!