How Short-Term Rental Owners, Managers Can Captain COVID-19 Cleaning
Today, short-term rentals occupy a strange and unique space in the vacation industry. While airline travel is still down significantly due to COVID-19, stays at properties on Airbnb have nearly doubled over the past few months. For people looking to get away, driving to a short-term rental property is far more appealing than flying somewhere and staying in a hotel.
While that is good news for private accommodations, it also comes with an increased level of responsibility and scrutiny. Vacationers are putting their faith in the owners and operators of these properties to keep them safe during the pandemic, so it’s crucial that owners and vacation rental managers step up and show that this faith isn’t misplaced.
The majority of vacation rental companies, management associations, and rental platforms like Booking.com or Vrbo have responded to these increased expectations, developing coronavirus-specific guidelines designed to keep both renters and staff members safe. But creating the right protocols and actually carrying them out are two completely different things. Ultimately, it’s up to rental manager and owners to ensure that everyone feels — and is — as safe as possible.
Set Expectations and See Them Through
In normal times, something as routine as cleaning and safety protocols would largely be left to the staff and property managers to handle. A property owner or manager would only need to step in if something was noticeably amiss.
However, these aren’t normal times. Renters are giving extra attention to cleanliness and adherence to safety guidelines. Many will want to know ahead of time exactly what extra measures are being put in place to ensure their safety, and they will likely hold the owner responsible for any lapses.
This responsibility isn’t just about dealing with customer expectations — it’s also potential legal issues. There is a lot of ambiguity among lawyers for how coronavirus infections could influence personal injury lawsuits and litigation over compliance with government-issued orders. Many lawyers believe it’s only a matter of time before coronavirus-related lawsuits begin to plague the travel and entertainment industries.
When it comes to short-term rentals, those lawsuits will likely fall at the feet of property managers and individual property owners. If that happens, it won’t be enough to show plaintiffs a set of guidelines you hoped were followed. As an owner, you’ll need to prove you played an active role in implementing these guidelines.
This doesn’t have to be a logistical nightmare. Here are a few easy steps you can take to get your managers and staff ready to handle new cleaning standards while keeping renters safe:
- Update your criteria. If you want to be certain your cleaning crew is following the right protocols, you should use an established set of COVID-19 cleaning guidelines to train staff members on everything they need to do.
- Encourage compliance. To ensure that the proper cleaning protocols are being followed every time a renter checks out of your property, you might invest in a property management service. Platforms like Breezeway can help make sure that new cleaning criteria are present beyond the training phase — so you can rest assured that the right work is getting done before the next guest checks in.
- Switch to keyless entry. Keyless locks remove the necessity of a physical key, granting contactless access to guests, maintenance staff, and cleaning staff while limiting the spread of germs. Keyless locks with event history can also help property managers verify the duration of cleaning visits, providing another check that cleaning protocols are being followed.
While keeping a clean, safe property has no doubt always been a priority for the majority of short-term rental owners and operators, it has taken on a new level of importance due to COVID-19. It’s not solely up to property managers and staff members to follow the right safety and cleaning protocols — owners must also take an active role in keeping rentals up to snuff. If not, they could be endangering their tenants and opening themselves up to potential litigation.