Any property manager can find himself in difficult situations anytime and these can be difficult in many ways: damaged objects in the property, home parties, rules ignored, deteriorated common spaces, excessive noise, guest attempts to go around payments etc. These situations, apart from physical and economic damages, risk to also deteriorate the precious relationship with neighbors.
There are situations that are easy to read and predict like when the property is awaiting a group of youngsters, normally louder than usual and with poor respect of common spaces, or families with little kids, prone to touching everything and therefore breaking objects in the property. On the other hand, there are specific tools and strategies to avoid the most common conflictual situations like contracts, security deposits and cancellation policies. In any case, if from one side property managers can try to avoid unpleasant situations by aiming towards the safest guest targets, on the other they cannot always guess what are the guest’s real intentions and habits.
Once again, communication can play an important role in trying to understand what kind of guest we are about to deal with. If particularly conflictual situations arise even before guest arrival it might be wise to cancel the reservation to save oneself from complicated situations and, most of all, negative reviews with all the image damage it brings with it.
what can we do to prepare ourselves to avoid conflictual situations?
- House rules - One of the most important things to do is to communicate house rules clearly, without leaving space to interpretations, and making sure these reach the guest. House rules can be sent via email and/or hung up somewhere in the property. These must establish what it is allowed to do and what it is not allowed to do.
- Property inventory - It is quite common to find out something is missing: a remote control, kitchenware, batteries etc. Some missing objects are easy to spot but others are not, using an inventory may be useful to go over what’s in the property after a stay. The inventory should increase chances of recovering the object or obtain compensation from the guest.
- Contract - It is very common to have the guest sign a short term rental contract before they begin their stay. The contract, similarly to the house rules mentioned before, establish what can be done and what cannot be done but with the main difference that the contract is vinculating and therefore also establishes what happens in determined situations. Classic topics are general reservation conditions, how and when payments are processed, what happens in case of damages etc. The more situations are regulated the less conflicts will arise.
- Cancellation policy - Always apply a cancellation policy that is clear and concise, reservation cancellations are often a source for many conflicts.
- Security deposit system - Charge a security deposit for every reservation to have a determined amount already cashed in to cover potential property damages. The deposit must be taken during check-in but only after checking the property is in perfect conditions, and returned during check-out after making sure the property is left the same way it was found.
- Downpayment - Also this strategy is very useful, setting up the business so that all reservations are partially prepaid via virtual POS, Paypal or bank transfer. This way all reservations are taken with a portion of it being paid and safeguard the property manager from cancellations and last minute no shows.