What You Need to Know before Short-term Renting Your Home

You own a great ski house in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Friends, family and even coworkers have asked to use it for a long weekend during ski season, leaf peeping in the fall or a week away in the summer months. For these types of scenarios you most likely will not need to change your insurance policy.

But what if you decide to take it one step further and list it on an online site such as Home Away or AirBnB? While some online vacation rental websites now offer insurance for those who rent their homes, coverage varies and some policies are more comprehensive than others. Your own individual company may have an issue with the short term rental. This is definitely a conversation you want to have with your insurance agent before moving forward.

Below is a list of some things to consider when listing your home.

  • Minimize your liability. Remove items that could result in injury. Trampolines, kayaks, boats, etc. are all examples of items that can increase your liability risk if provided to your renters. In addition, be sure that you have no loose steps, uneven walkways, or any other trip and fall hazards.
  • Check with the city or town where the home is located. Many cities or towns have ordinances that restrict short-term rentals. These violations can result in large fines to you. If the location is a condo be sure you are not violating the bylaws.
  • Be sure you hire a professional snow and ice removal service to maintain the driveway and walkways.
  • Cameras you have placed in your living areas to monitor break-ins can expose you to privacy lawsuits with renters. They should be disconnected or at the very least be disclosed in the rental agreement.
  • Be sure handrails are secure, smoke and CO2 detectors are functioning. Be sure the boiler, hot water heater, and appliances are checked on a yearly basis.
  • Make sure all small appliances-coffee pots, hair styling tools, irons and toaster ovens have auto shut offs.
  • Drain hot tubs. You might think a hot tub makes your rental more attractive, but it only increases the chances of a liability claim. What if your renter is intoxicated and slips and falls in the hot tub? Who will clean the hot tub and ensure the water’s pH balance is maintained so your renters don’t contract skin infections?
  • Practice due diligence in screening each renter. Most online sites perform minimal checking which basically just verifies that the renter is an actual human with a valid email address. You might want to have your own back ground check done on the renter to ensure they are on the up and up. Don’t be afraid to ask for references, Google them and check out their social media presence.
  • Protect your home and belongings.
  • Most renter’s insurance policies will either offer limited theft coverage or exclude it entirely. Be sure you know your policy limits in connection to theft while the property is being rented.