Short-Term & Vacation Rental Discussions

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Allen L.
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STR strategy questions

Allen L.
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Chicago and mainly invests in KS remotely
Posted Jul 4 2022, 19:23

Hi all,

I am underwriting a potential STR property and I have some basic questions. I'm looking to add some features to the backyard to make the property more attractive as vacation rental.

1. fire pit

2. outdoor sauna

3. children's playground

I'm looking to add all of these things, however what happens if someone slips on the playground? Passes out in the sauna? For LTRs, we do not add these things, but they seem attractive in a STR. I see people marketing properties with pools all the time on AirBnB, and the consensus on BP is that pools are great for STR as long as you carry sufficient liability insurance. This logic then follows for outdoor sauna and playground. Is this liability issue sort of a non-issue for STR?

Austin, Texas

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John Underwood#4 All Forums Contributor
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John Underwood#4 All Forums Contributor
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Replied Jul 4 2022, 19:51
Quote from @Allen L.:

Hi all,

I am underwriting a potential STR property and I have some basic questions. I'm looking to add some features to the backyard to make the property more attractive as vacation rental.

1. fire pit

2. outdoor sauna

3. children's playground

I'm looking to add all of these things, however what happens if someone slips on the playground? Passes out in the sauna? For LTRs, we do not add these things, but they seem attractive in a STR. I see people marketing properties with pools all the time on AirBnB, and the consensus on BP is that pools are great for STR as long as you carry sufficient liability insurance. This logic then follows for outdoor sauna and playground. Is this liability issue sort of a non-issue for STR?


 I'd skip the playground for the liability issues you mentioned. A kid could get hurt even on a play set in good condition. 

Hot tubs are routinely maintained and covered by STR coverage.

Fire pits if properly maintained are also pretty safe.

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Andrew Street
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Andrew Street
Replied Jul 4 2022, 19:55

In addition, I think that having some form of umbrella insurance would really help with your liability concerns. Maybe what you have already has an umbrella policy attached, but something to think about.

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Nathan G.
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Nathan G.
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ModeratorReplied Jul 5 2022, 04:45
Quote from @Allen L.:

Hi all,

I am underwriting a potential STR property and I have some basic questions. I'm looking to add some features to the backyard to make the property more attractive as vacation rental.

1. fire pit

2. outdoor sauna

3. children's playground

I'm looking to add all of these things, however what happens if someone slips on the playground? Passes out in the sauna? For LTRs, we do not add these things, but they seem attractive in a STR. I see people marketing properties with pools all the time on AirBnB, and the consensus on BP is that pools are great for STR as long as you carry sufficient liability insurance. This logic then follows for outdoor sauna and playground. Is this liability issue sort of a non-issue for STR?


Question: do you know anyone that's sued and wasn't covered by their insurance? Or do you just hear people wringing their hands about it?

I believe we're the most litigious counry in the world, but they're still not as common as people are led to believe. Even if you are sued, your insurance provider is likely to settle out of court (about 95% of all lawsuits). Even if it goes to court and you lose, your insurance is going to cover it. The odds of you being sued for such a large amount that your insurance won't cover it is probably equivalent to being struck by lightning twice.

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Ken Boone
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Ken Boone
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Replied Jul 5 2022, 06:07

The main thing to do is talk to your insurance provider about your plans and make sure your policy covers you for those things.  I have indoor pools in my places and one of them has an indoor sauna as well.  Some providers won’t cover an str with a pool and some will.  In my case the insurance agent also provided verbiage that has to be in my rental agreement for me to be covered.  When I decided to do a fire pit at my newest property I again talked to my agent and he provided guidance for me to follow to ensure I am covered. The main thing is to go over this stuff with your agent and they will be in the best position to help you.   

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Luke Carl
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Luke Carl
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Replied Jul 5 2022, 06:46
I'm anti fire pit but I do recognize that they work for the right host. I don't like drunk people starting fires next to my home made of mostly wood.

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Luke Carl
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Luke Carl
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Replied Jul 5 2022, 06:47
I'm anti fire pit but I do recognize that they work for the right host. I don't like drunk people starting fires next to my home made of mostly wood.

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Eliott Elias
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Eliott Elias
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Replied Jul 5 2022, 06:57

I know someone who can answer all these. Shoot me a DM 

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Eliott Elias
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Eliott Elias
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Replied Jul 5 2022, 06:58

I know someone who can answer all these. Shoot me a DM 

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Bruce Woodruff#2 All Forums Contributor
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Bruce Woodruff#2 All Forums Contributor
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Replied Jul 5 2022, 07:10

First question to ask yourself is this - Will you regain 1) the costs of these amenities, plus 2) the added maintenance and repairs, plus 3) the cost of the added insurance? What do your competitors in the nearby areas have for amenities? This should be about money. Don't do it for fun or just to have the coolest STR around...

You can always 'insurance up', that's not the problem....it's the $ in vs $ out and the added hassles

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Randy Dubiskas
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Randy Dubiskas
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Replied Jul 5 2022, 10:21

I have a chimenea which in northern New Mexico is really a nice addition.  It's in the courtyard and I stock pinon wood.  My house is not a log cabin like @Luke Carl. It has a stucco exterior that is pretty fire resistant. So far, guests have been very careful with burning in it, but it is one of the safer type of outdoor fireplaces you can have. The pinon smell is really a classic New Mexico thing. I do have STR insurance through State Farm and an Umbrella Policy, also through State Farm. I don't think I would do the playground thing, but that's not my guests demographic for the most part.

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Replied Jul 5 2022, 13:21
Quote from @Luke Carl:
I'm anti fire pit but I do recognize that they work for the right host. I don't like drunk people starting fires next to my home made of mostly wood.

I agree that a true wood powered fire pit may not be ideal, especially in fire prone areas. Plus you have the added responsibility of keeping wood in stock. Would also be a good idea to have a fire extinguisher handy. 

I have a small propane powered fire pit that connects to a line splitter and tank that is shared by the gas grill.